Monday, September 30, 2013

Abortion & Embryo Research
-        What is an abortion?
-        What reasons are there to think that abortion is wrong?
-        What reasons are there to think that abortion is morally permissible?
-        What reasons are there to think that some abortions could be morally obligatory?
Is the morality of abortion affected by the circumstance?
-        E.g., rape
-        E.g., the mother’s health or life are at risk
-         E.g., the woman just does not want to have a child or another child … 

Assignment: Introduction and Outline for Rachels paper

James Rachels' "Active and Passive Euthanasia" is one of the most famous papers in bioethics. According to Google Scholar, the article has been discussed or cited by other authors over 500 times.

Although relatively short, the article is complex: it has parts that create the whole.

Your task for this assignment is to write an introduction of a paper that explains Rachels's main (and sub) conclusion(s) and his arguments for those conclusions. Your introduction should explain everything that you will do in the paper in good detail. And you should create an outline for the body and conclusion of the paper that covers every important issue and argument made in Rachels' paper. You should briefly explain in each section of the outline what you will do in that section and how it relates to the overall purpose(s) of your paper.

The challenge for this assignment involves seeing the "forest for the trees" and the "trees for the forest." That is, each part of Rachels' paper - often each paragraph, or set of paragraphs - contributes to the whole of the paper. Part of your task with this project is, by way of this outline, for you to show how each part fits into the overall whole.

But first, read and re-read this article by Pryor: http://www.jimpryor.net/teaching/guidelines/writing.html
Make sure that you have read the first 3 sections of the Harvard Writing Book, ideally the whole thing.

Due Monday Oct 7.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Morehouse Writing Center

You are encouraged to visit the Morehouse Writing Center, in Brawley 200, for help with all your writing projects.



Friday, September 20, 2013

For Wednesday, please very carefully read this reading on writing:
http://www.jimpryor.net/teaching/guidelines/writing.html

Also, please develop an outline for a paper about the Rachels article "Active and Passive Euthanasia" that explains the main arguments from Rachels. And write your introduction to that paper.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Wednesday we started discussing this article "Active and Passive Euthanasia" by James Rachels. We'll continue with this Friday.

One writing assignments for Monday, 9/23 (originally this was two assignments; I'm converting it to one assignment):

What are some of the most important ideas, claims and themes from Pence's chapters 1-3 about ethics and dying? What are some of the most difficult issues to resolve? Please answer these questions with reference to at least three cases from the chapters.  

To ensure that your paper is formatted properly, you should use the paper template here:
http://morehousebioethics.blogspot.com/2013/08/assignment-template.html

P.S. Here is an essay evaluation sheet, most of which would be helpful; the only part that isn't relevant here is the 'thesis' part, since this assignment above doesn't have a thesis.
Essay Evaluation Sheet
Here are some concerns for argumentative essays. How well does your essay address them? 
1.      Introduction: do you have an introduction that explains the topic(s) you will address, or the question(s) you will answer?
2.       Thesis: does your paper have a thesis, that is, a conclusion that you try to support?
3.       Arguments: does your paper give an explicit argument or arguments in support of your conclusion?
a.       Do you explicitly state your premises, and why they should be accepted?
b.      Do you explicitly explain how your premises lead to your conclusions?
4.       Do you respond to any objections or counterarguments? Do you respond to questions that readers might have about your arguments?
5.       Does your paper have a conclusion that reviews what you discussed and what you argued for?
6.       Organization: could your paper be outlined to show its structure? Is it well organized?
7.       Paragraphs: does each paragraph focus on one, and only one, topic?
8.       Writing: is your paper written in plain, ordinary English? Do you use ‘fancy’ words – words that people wouldn’t use in ordinary conversation – only if it is absolutely necessary?
9.       Are there any grammatical and spelling errors?
10.   Are your sentences short and clear? Did you look closely at each sentence to ensure it makes sense?
11.   Did you proofread?
12.   Did you get someone else to read your paper and give you helpful feedback for revision?
13.   Did you revise your paper?
This is available here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/9sxz5wmf3wjwzbb/Essay%20Evaluation%20Sheet.doc

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Writing Assignment for Friday: a revision of the assignment originally due Monday

New writing assignment, due this Friday 9/13. Note additions in red.

How do the different moral theories in the Rachels chapter (“A Short Introduction to Moral Philosophy”) (online on the blog) and the Pence chapter explain why the wrong actions (as a group, that we developed in class: you will likely want to mention some items from that last) below are wrong and the not wrong actions are not wrong? Write a short essay (3-4 pages) that explains 
each theory’s answer(s), starting with the theories at the end of the chapter (e.g., Kant and utilitarianism) and working towards the theories at the beginning. Also briefly discuss the African moral theories: links for these are below. For each theory from Rachels and Pence, you should provide a properly cited quote from Rachels and Pence to use to state and explain the theory. Focus on Kant, utilitarianism and the social contract theory, especially Rawls, as presented by Pence. 

Your paper will likely have main claims like this: "According to this theory…. , these actions are wrong because …."


Your paper should have an introduction. It sound begin like this:

"In this paper, I will discuss the topic(s) of _____. The question(s) I will attempt to answer is (are): "

Since this is not an argumentative paper, your paper doesn't have a thesis. Your goal is to just accurately explain the theories. 

Each paragraph should focus on one, and only one, topic. 

To ensure that your paper is formatted properly, you should use the paper template here:
http://morehousebioethics.blogspot.com/2013/08/assignment-template.html

P.S. Here is an essay evaluation sheet, most of which would be helpful; the only part that isn't relevant here is the 'thesis' part, since this assignment above doesn't have a thesis.

Essay Evaluation Sheet

Here are some concerns for argumentative essays. How well does your essay address them?1.      Introduction: do you have an introduction that explains the topic(s) you will address, or the question(s) you will answer?
2.       Thesis: does your paper have a thesis, that is, a conclusion that you try to support?
3.       Arguments: does your paper give an explicit argument or arguments in support of your conclusion?
a.       Do you explicitly state your premises, and why they should be accepted?
b.      Do you explicitly explain how your premises lead to your conclusions?
4.       Do you respond to any objections or counterarguments? Do you respond to questions that readers might have about your arguments?
5.       Does your paper have a conclusion that reviews what you discussed and what you argued for?
6.       Organization: could your paper be outlined to show its structure? Is it well organized?
7.       Paragraphs: does each paragraph focus on one, and only one, topic?
8.       Writing: is your paper written in plain, ordinary English? Do you use ‘fancy’ words – words that people wouldn’t use in ordinary conversation – only if it is absolutely necessary?
9.       Are there any grammatical and spelling errors?
10.   Are your sentences short and clear? Did you look closely at each sentence to ensure it makes sense?
11.   Did you proofread?
12.   Did you get someone else to read your paper and give you helpful feedback for revision?
13.   Did you revise your paper?
This is available here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/9sxz5wmf3wjwzbb/Essay%20Evaluation%20Sheet.doc

Monday, September 9, 2013

Writing Assignment for Monday

New writing assignment, due Monday 9/16.

How do the different moral theories in the Rachels chapter (“A Short Introduction to Moral Philosophy”) (online on the blog) explain why the wrong actions (as a group, that we developed in class) below are wrong and the not wrong actions are not wrong? Write a short essay (3-4 pages) that explains each theory’s answer(s), starting with the theories at the end and working towards the theories at the beginning. Also briefly discuss the African moral theories.

Your paper will likely have main claims like this: "According to this theory…. , these actions are wrong because …."

Due Monday 9/16.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Re-reading and writing assignment for Monday NOW WEDNESDAY:
-          How do the different moral theories in the Rachels chapter (“A Short Introduction to Moral Philosophy”) (online on the blog) explain why the wrong actions (as a group) below are wrong and the not wrong actions are not wrong? Write a short essay that explains each theory’s answer(s), starting with the theories at the end and working towards the theories at the beginning. J
o    According to this theory…. , these actions are wrong because ….

Re-read for Wed: read the Pence chapter. Answer the discussion questions at the end of the chapter.

For Friday, read the stuff on African moral theories: 


  • Metz, T. (2007), Toward an African Moral Theory. Journal of Political Philosophy, 15: 321–341. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9760.2007.00280.x  http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-9760.2007.00280.x/full 
  • Gyekye, Kwame, "African Ethics", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2011 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2011/entries/african-ethics/>. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/african-ethics/ 
  • Also to do:
    1. Read Introduction and Part 1 of the Harvard book on writing.
    2. Read: "How to Read Philosophy," by Jim Pryor: http://www.jimpryor.net/teaching/guidelines/reading.html
    3. The Rachels chapter on moral theories. "A Short Introduction to Moral Philosophy."
    4. Pence chapter on Ethical Theories and Bioethics.
    5. Readings on African Ethics. See links above.




    MAKE A LIST OF ACTIONS (OR CHARACTER TRAITS) THAT YOU THINK MOST PEOPLE WOULD THINK ARE OBVIOUSLY WRONG. VIVID, EXTREME, UNCONTROVERSIAL EXAMPLES ARE BEST L
    Anything else that comes up that doesn’t fit either category?
    MAKE A LIST OF ACTIONS (OR CHARACTER TRAITS) THAT YOU THINK MOST PEOPLE WOULD THINK ARE OBVIOUSLY NOT WRONG; and/or permissible, and/or obligatory, and/or good.. . VIVID, EXTREME, UNCONTROVERSIAL EXAMPLES ARE BEST
    • Killing innocent children
    • Raping pregnant women
    • Urinating on homeless people
    • Decapitating cute puppies for pleasure
    • Not saving a child from drowning
    • Forcing people to become addicted to recreational drugs
    • Stealing money from poor people when you are filthy rich
    • Coercion
    • Unnecessary and irrelevant discrimination based on aesthetic preference
    • Acid baths because you are turned down by a love interest
    • Censorship for the purposes of social control
    • Incest = abusive romantic and sexual relationships within family
    • Slavery…
    •  
    •  
    -          Making people laugh.. when it is not at the expense of another, and in an appropriate situation…
    -          Eating food when you are hungry
    -          Sleeping when you are tired..
    -          Paying bills on time; being financially responsible..
    -          Saving innocent lives … when you can (obviously)..
    -          Giving to the poor..
    -          Drinking coffee..
    -          NOT HARMING OTHERS..
    -          BENEFITTING OTHERS …
    -          TREATING PEOPLE FAIRLY..
    -          TREATING PEOPLE WITH RESPECT..





    To Do

    To do:
    1. Read Introduction and Part 1 of the Harvard book on writing.
    2. Read: "How to Read Philosophy," by Jim Pryor: http://www.jimpryor.net/teaching/guidelines/reading.html
    3. The Rachels chapter on moral theories. "A Short Introduction to Moral Philosophy."
    4. Pence chapter on Ethical Theories and Bioethics.
    5. Readings on African Ethics:

    Wednesday, September 4, 2013

     For Friday:

    1.     DEVELOP A “DATA SET”
    MAKE A LIST OF ACTIONS (OR CHARACTER TRAITS) THAT YOU THINK MOST PEOPLE WOULD THINK ARE OBVIOUSLY WRONG. VIVID, EXTREME, UNCONTROVERSIAL EXAMPLES ARE BEST.

    MAKE A LIST OF ACTIONS (OR CHARACTER TRAITS) THAT YOU THINK MOST PEOPLE WOULD THINK ARE NOT WRONG. VIVID, EXTREME, UNCONTROVERSIAL EXAMPLES ARE BEST.
    2.     EXPLAIN WHY THE WRONG ACTIONS BELONG ON THE WRONG LIST: THAT IS, WHAT IT IS ABOUT THE WRONG ACTIONS THAT MAKE THEM WRONG.
    3.     HOW DO THE THEORIES FROM THE READINGS ANSWER QUESTION (2)?




    Make a list of theories:
    THEORIES EXPLAIN … OBSERVATIONS / DATA
    Evolutionary theory .
    Theories of learning.. explain how people learn…
    Political Theories .. social theories..
    Scientific theories … such as the Theory of relativity; theory of gravity..
    Psychological theories. Freud’s theory…

               

    Why?
    If an action is like Y, then that action is wrong.
    All actions that are Z are morally permissible.
    Moral principles:
    A premise that gives some sufficient conditions for when an action is W, MP or MO.
    Moral theories:
    Theories that…

    Any action where A, B and C are the case are actions that are moral obligations