I’m working on a philosophy writing question and need support to help me learn.
Seminar in Ethics
Your writing task is to address an applied ethical issue. Your paper should accomplish the following tasks:undefined
2. Identify relevant ethical principles.
3. Apply principles to the particular question and arrive at an answer to the question.
First, regarding task 1: Look back over the reading material from the applied ethics section of the course (the McQuilkin & Copan readings, and the Holmes readings), pick an issue or topic area that interests you, and then pick a specific question to address. (Remember that a particular question could be of the form “is it always right to do such-and-such?” or “is it always wrong to do such-and-such?”, but could also be of the form “is it sometimes right (or morally permissible) to do such-and-such?” or “is it sometimes wrong (or morally impermissible) to do such-and-such?) You will then write one or two paragraphs describing the ethical issue, formulating the specific question, and explaining why it’s controversial.
For example, suppose you were intrigued by the section on euthanasia, and you weren’t convinced by McQuilkin & Copan’s view regarding the Terry Shiavo case (p. 391). You might decide to address this particular question: is it ever morally permissible to withhold nutrition from someone in order to hasten death? That is a sufficiently specific question, but not so specific that you would have to do more than moderate research/data collection in order to answer it. Your introduction would include a statement of the particular question, but would also include some explanation regarding the topic area it falls under. In this case, you would say something about what euthanasia is, how this particular question of withholding nutrition relates to the general topic of euthanasia, and why it’s controversial.
Second, regarding task 2: We are going to assume that the Bible contains ethically binding moral commands/principles, so you should determine which biblical passages are the most relevant to the particular question. Remember that this can take the form of identifying commands/passages that apply directly to the question, or it can take the form of identifying more general principles that are relevant even if not directly about the issue in question.
For example, suppose that you have decided to address the question of whether Christians should or may engage in surrogate motherhood, and you want to argue that it is morally acceptable. McQuilkin & Copan argue that surrogacy is ethically unacceptable for Christians (M & C, p. 398). You might mention the Bible verses they cite as relevant, but then you would also identify Bible passages to support the moral acceptability of surrogacy. For example, you might think that the biblical command to love one’s neighbor as oneself is relevant to the question, since becoming a surrogate might be motivated by a self-denying love of neighbor. (Note: I am not endorsing this argument, I am just giving an example of how one could go about arguing about this question!)
You may also want to include discussion of non-biblical moral principles, if there are any you consider relevant.
Finally, regarding task 3: Here is where you will construct your argument for your answer to the ethical question. You will show why the relevant principles identified in task 2 lead to the answer to the question identified in task 1 that you believe is correct. Note that this means that I am asking you to take a position on the issue. It’s fine if you still have some reservations or doubts about your conclusion; even so, you must state a definite answer to the question. This is also the place to explain, if necessary, why passages or principles that would seem to go against your position in fact to do not, or are outweighed by other principles.
For example, suppose that you chose the question of surrogacy mentioned above. You might argue that the principle of loving one’s neighbor, even sacrificially, gives a reason to consider surrogacy as at least morally permissible, unless there are strong biblical directives directly against the practice. Then you may consider McQuilkin and Copan’s biblical support for their view (citing the source, of course, if you do!), and argue that those passages aren’t correctly interpreted, or are stretched beyond legitimate application, or something like that.
You are not required to respond to arguments that are contrary to the view you take, but doing so with strengthen you paper by making it clear that you did not only seek confirming sources and avoided contrary sources when doing your research.
Your paper should be between 2000 and 2500 words in length (this is about 8 to 10 pages double-spaced in 12-point Times New Roman font—but it is word count that matters, not number of pages).
You should use at least three published research sources. A “publishes research source” will have a named author and publisher. Avoid using websites as sources, except when they provide named authors and formal publishers, such as the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy do. If in doubt about a source, please contact your professor.
Once you are finished, upload your paper to the class website.
FORMAT: All submissions should be double spaced and in a 12-point standard font such as Times New Roman.
1. Provide biblical references when citing the Bible. Abbreviation are fine (e.g., Mt. 5:3), and you only need to indicate the translation if you are quoting directly; e.g., “Blessed are the poor in spirit…” (Mt. 5:3, ESV). Your biblical references should be appropriate, meaning clearly relevant to the point you are making, and accurately summarized (when not quoting directly).
2. You must cite any sources that you do use, including the class texts. This means that you will need a “works cited” or “bibliography” section at the end of your paper. This section does not count toward your word requirement.
3. Please refrain from using the phrase “I feel that…” in your paper. State clearly what you think or believe to be true, not what you feel.