Philosophy 1200 - Philosophy and Society

Paper Prompts


Read paper guidelines before reading this. See syllabus for length requirements and due dates of papers. As those paper guidelines said, you don't need to do a pre-assigned topic (a topic based off of on of these prompts). In fact, it's great if you have your own idea. But if you don't have your own thesis and argument, you may write a paper addressing one of the following. If you do one of these pre-assigned topic, make sure to indicate the number of the topic you choose at the top of your paper.

  1. Here are some popular arguments about abortion:

    "It's ok to have an abortion for an unwanted pregnancy. If two people are irresponsible enough to get pregnant accidentally, then they aren't ready to have children."

    "From the moment of conception, there is a living human being -- a living thing with a complete set of human DNA. Since it is obviously wrong to kill innocent human beings, abortion is wrong."

    "No one has the right to tell a woman what she can and cannot do with her body. This is why abortion is permissible."

    "If the couple doesn't want to have the child, then the child probably isn't going to have a very high quality of life anyway. Thus, abortion should be allowed in such cases."

    Pick one or two of these. Develop it as clearly and fairly as you can. Is it a good argument?

  2. What is the best theory of the wrongness of killing?

  3. Does Paske's cat-person example undermine Marquis' position on abortion?

  4. As we noted in class, the psychological theory of personal identity is unfriendly to Marquis' position on abortion, while the biological theory of personal identity is friendly to it. But which theory is true? And what exactly are its implications for abortion?

  5. According to what we called the standard anti-abortion argument, a fetus has a right to life from the moment of conception. Is this claim true? If it's not, then when do we acquire the right to life?

  6. Is the responsibility objection to Thomson's argument successful?

  7. How does Thomson herself present and then respond to the responsibility objection? Is her reply successful?

  8. Does Beckwith's point involving the responsibility of fathers undermine Thomson's argument?

  9. Might abortion be wrong even in cases of rape?

  10. Does Norcross' argument succeed in showing that it's wrong to buy factory-raised meat?

  11. Is the causal impotence objection to Norcross' argument successful?

  12. What is the best theory of moral status?

  13. Should people who think it's wrong to will animals also think it's wrong to have an abortion?

  14. Is there a morally relevant difference between Shallow Pond and Envelope?

  15. Is Singer's more moderate principle strong enough to generate the kind of radical conclusion he wants to generate?

  16. Is Slote's reply to Singer successful?


  17. Is LaFollette right that the government should require a licence to become a parent?

  18. Is there are morally relevant difference between becoming an adoptive parent and becoming a biological parent that would justify requiring a licence for the former but not the latter?

  19. Is Kagan right that there is really nothing very objectionable about reproductive human cloning?

  20. Present an argument against reproductive human cloning from the President's Council on Bioethics that is or would be rejected by either Elliott, Hershenov, or Kagan. Then present the objection that this philosopher would give. Then explain who is right, the President's Council or that philosopher.

  21. Kagan gives a kind of argument for the claim that a human embryo does not have full moral status. Explain that argument. Is it a good argument?

  22. Is human therapeutic cloning wrong?

  23. What is the correct solution to the mere addition paradox?