Ethical and Moral Philosophy

Final Goal: To write a philosophy paper, per the guidelines detailed in “Writing a philosophy paper” in week two. You will research and discuss one of the theories listed below. You need to pick one you understand and like or appreciate. You should strive to demonstrate adequate understanding of the theory first in the paper.

Contemporary topics: This is much more open-ended. When considering a contemporary topic, think about current events, some ethical issue you are passionate about, or an ethical issue you know a lot about, or perhaps even encounter in your professional or personal life.

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Writing a philosophy paper: (1) The whole paper is one big argument. It is not a report. The aim in philosophy is to find the truth, and the tool we use to find it is an argument. Notice I didn’t say the aim is trying to win the argument but to find the truth. The process begins with suspending judgment until all the facts are in. Only then you form an opinion, i.e. make a judgment. Then, you argue by presenting reasons to support your judgment. You may, in the course of your research, completely flip your point of view… and that’s how we learn. Even if we decide our original opinion was wrong it’s still a win-win situation because we always know more in the end. (2) The thesis is your point of view. Your thesis statement is a concise assertion of your point of view (your judgment or opinion) on an issue. In other words, you are taking a stand, pro or con, and arguing from that perspective. You argue by presenting good reasons for believing your thesis is the right way to think and backing those reasons up with supporting evidence. Even if you are defending a particular philosopher’s thesis, because you agree with him/her, it is your thesis, too. Note that the introduction should introduce the paper to the reader. Think about introducing a new friend to your current friends. Tell the reader exactly what the paper is about. For more information read,


For an argument, lay out your argument in brief. Example: In unprecedented times, unprecedented actions are often necessary. Now officially labeled a pandemic, health organizations must do all possible to protect global and local citizens. After discussing the explosive growth of COVID-19, the right of the WHO and CDC to employ quarantines is explored through the lens of rule utilitarianism. (3) There is always an objection section. As open-minded philosophers, we seriously consider the opposing point of view. You can’t find the truth if you confine yourself to your own little ‘echo chamber’ where everyone you talk to has exactly your point of view. This means that every paper you write will have an objection section, so, you will be presenting two opposing arguments. Your reply to the opposition shows that your thesis is still better. There is a very helpful article by Peter Horban, “Writing A Philosophical Paper.” Here is an excerpt : One of the first points to be clear about is that a philosophical essay is quite different from an essay in most other subjects. That is because it is neither a research paper nor an exercise in literary self-expression. It is not a report of what various scholars have had to say on a particular topic. It does not present the latest findings of tests or experiments. And it does not present your personal feelings or impressions. Instead, it is a reasoned defense of a thesis. What does that mean? Above all, it means that there must be a specific point that you are trying to establish – something that you are trying to convince the reader to accept – together with grounds or justification for its acceptance. Before you start to write your paper, you should be able to state exactly what it is that you are trying to show. This is harder than it sounds. It simply will not do to have a rough idea of what you want to establish. A rough idea is usually one that is not well worked out, not clearly expressed, and as a result, not likely to be understood. Whether you do it in your paper or not, you should be able to state in a single short sentence precisely what you want to prove. If you cannot formulate your thesis this way, odds are you are not clear enough about it. Feel free to read the rest of the paper linked below, particularly his six things to avoid. Horban, Peter. “Writing A Philosophy Paper.” Simon Fraser University, 1993.

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