PHIL 1100 -- Ethics
Prof. Chris Heathwood
T.A. Bodhi Melnitzer
University of Colorado Boulder
Second Paper Assignment
due Wednesday, November 18 in class, at the start of class
Write an 800-1,200 word (roughly 2.5-4 page) paper in which you defend a thesis of your choosing related to our course. Below is list of questions that your paper might try to answer. You may write a paper that defends an answer to one of these questions, or you may write a paper that answers a different question. Whatever topic you choose, indicate your topic in the title of your paper. For some of the questions, I'll give you some hints as to what a paper on this question should include. Read over these hints even if you don't answer that particular question; doing so will help you with whatever question you do answer.
Before you begin, you need to read the Philosophy Paper FAQ. It is very important that you read over this carefully and more than once. It will be impossible to do well on the paper if you don't.
Thesis: "The Organ Harvest Argument refutes Act Utilitarianism."
Background: explain and illustrate Act Utilitarianism.
Argument: Present and explain the Organ Harvest Argument.
Objection: Present a reply that a utilitarian might give to the Organ Harvest Argument, and then explain why, in your view, that reply is not successful.
Thesis: "Ross' Argument from Promises against Utilitarianism is unsound."
Background: explain and illustrate Act Utilitarianism; Present and explain Ross' Argument from Promises against Utilitarianism (pp. 34-35 of Ross)
Argument: Explain which premise is Ross' argument is false, and lay out in detail your reasons for thinking it is false.
Objection: If you have space, you can consider and respond to a reply that Ross might make to your argument.
Here are some theses that you might defend on this topic:
"The bystander in Switch may turn the trolley to save five, but the onlooker in Footbridge may not push the large man to save five, and this is because __________________________ ."
"It is wrong both to push the large man in Footbridge and to turn the trolley in Switch."
"It is permissible both to push the large man in Footbridge and to turn the trolley in Switch."
One way to defend this last thesis would be to show that a number of attempts to identify a morally relevant difference between the bystander saving five in Switch and the onlooker saving five in Footbridge fail.
Thesis: "Norcross' argument for the wrongness of buying factory-farmed meat is sound."
Background: Explain Norcross' argument.
Argument: Present 2-3 of the best criticisms to Norcross' argument in the form of potentially morally relevant differences between Fred's behavior and buying factory-farmed meat; explain why none of these criticisms of Norcross' argument is successful; conclude that since you can't find any morally relevant differences between Fred's behavior and buying factory-farmed meat, Norcross' argument appears to be sound.
Thesis: "Marquis' argument for the wrongness of abortion is unsound."
Background: Explain Marquis' argument.
Argument: Explain which premise of Marquis' argument is false, and why.
Objections: If you have space, consider and respond to a possible reply that Marquis' might give.
Some other theses that a person might defend:
Just to be clear, it is perfectly ok for you pick one of these theses and write a paper defending it.
Yet another thing you might do in your paper is find an argument from another source that bears on one of our topics, and then Extract, Explain, and Evaluate that argument (as we did with Ben Franklin's argument in class). If you do this option, you should quote the text from which you are extracting the argument, so that we can evaluate whether you have interpreted the argument correctly.