In the Week One Assignment, you formulated a concrete ethical question, took a position on that topic, and identified a reason supporting and a reason opposing that position. In the Week Three Assignment, you discussed either deontological or utilitarian theory, applied that theory to the question, and raised a relevant objection.
By engaging with the course material, you now have had a chance to refine your thinking and broaden your understanding of the problem by approaching it from the perspective of multiple ethical theories.
In this paper, you will demonstrate what you have learned by writing an essay in which you
Present a revised formulation of the ethical question and introduction to the topic.
Explain the kind of reasoning you think is the best way to approach this question, and how that reasoning supports the position you think is strongest.
Raise an objection, and be able to respond to it.
Write an essay that conforms to the requirements below. The paper must be 1500 to 2000 words in length (excluding the title and reference pages) and formatted according to APA style as outlined in the Ashford Writing Center.
The paragraphs of your essay should conform to the following guidelines:
Your first paragraph should begin with the topic question, suitably revised. It should be focused, concrete, and on a relevant moral problem. You should then introduce the topic in the way described by the Week One instructions, but reflecting the developed understanding and information you have gained about the topic and any necessary refinement of the scope.
Follow this with a thesis statement that states your position, and a brief description of the primary reason(s) supporting your position. (See the handout on thesis statements provided). Finally, provide a brief preview of the overall aim and procedure of your paper.
Explanation and Demonstration of Moral Reasoning
This section of the Final Paper will explain and demonstrate what you believe to be the best way of reasoning about the question you have chosen, and showing how that reasoning supports the position you have taken on the question. You might explain the principles, rules, values, virtues, conceptions of purposes and ends, and other general ideas that you find persuasive, and show how they support concrete judgments.
In the course of doing so, you must make reference to at least two of the approaches that we have examined in the course (such as deontological, utilitarian, or virtue-based), and utilize at least one resource off the provided list for each of the two approaches. One of these theories may be the theory you discussed in your Week Three Assignment, but your discussion here should be more refined.
For example, you might find the reasoning associated with Aristotelian virtue ethics to be the most compelling, and reference Aristotle in the process of showing how that reasoning supports a certain conclusion. In the course of this, you could contrast that with a utilitarian approach, referencing Mill for instance.
Objection and Response
After explaining the ethical reasoning that supports your position, you should raise an objection and respond to it. An objection articulates a plausible reason why someone might find the argument weak or problematic. You should explain how it brings out this weakness, and do so in a way that would be acceptable to someone who disagrees with your own argument. Then, provide the best response you can to the objection, showing how it does not undermine your position. Your response should not simply restate your original position or argument, but should say something new in support of it.
Provide a conclusion that sums up what you presented in the paper and offers some final reflections.
You must use at least four scholarly resources. Two of the resources must be drawn from the list of acceptable primary resources on each of the two theories you discuss. For example, if you discuss deontology and virtue ethics, you would need at least one resource under the “Deontology” list and at least one resource under the “Virtue Ethics” list. The other two may be from either the Required or Recommended Resources, or scholarly resources found in the Ashford University Library.
The textbook may be cited, but it does not count toward the resource requirement. If you cite the textbook, you will still need to cite at least four more sources that fulfill the requirements stated above.
If you need help with finding additional resources, or are unsure about whether a particular resource will count toward the requirement, please contact your instructor.
For sources to count toward the resources requirement, they must be cited within the text of your paper and on the reference page. Sources that are listed on the references page, but not cited within the paper, do not count toward fulfilling the resources requirement.
For information regarding APA, including samples and tutorials, visit the Ashford Writing Center.
Part One: Formulate the Question
Read through the list of available topic areas, and select a topic on which you would like to write your next two papers. Formulate a specific, concrete, ethical question pertaining to that topic, and place that at the top of your paper.
The question should be specific enough to discuss in six to eight pages (which is the length of the Final Paper assignment). For example, if you were interested in discussing the topic of capital punishment, a question like “Is capital punishment wrong?” would be too vague, and would need to be reformulated as a more specific question, such as “Should we execute people convicted of first degree murder?” or “Is it just to use capital punishment when there is the possibility of executing innocent persons?” or “Is the capital punishment system racist?”
Part Two: Provide a Brief Introduction to the Topic
Your introduction should focus on setting out the topic and scope of the discussion in a way that clearly establishes what exactly you will be talking about and why it is significant. It should also provide any necessary context such as the background, current state of affairs, definitions of key terms, and so on. You want to try to do this in a way that stays as neutral as possible, avoids controversial assumptions, rhetorical questions, and the like. In other words, you should try to construct an introduction to the topic that could be an introduction to a paper defending any position on the question at issue.
It is important for your introduction to narrow down the topic as much as possible. Doing so will allow you to provide a more detailed consideration of the issues and explain the reasoning more clearly in later papers. In general, arguments and analyses are much stronger when they focus on addressing a particular issue thoroughly and in detail, and doing so often requires deciding on one particular question or point to discuss, and leaving other possible ones aside.
You should label this section of your paper as “Introduction.”
Part Three: Provide a Position Statement
State clearly and precisely the position you intend to defend on the question you have formulated. This does not need to be more than one sentence.
Note that providing a position statement does not necessarily presume that you are confident in your position, that other positions do not have merit, or that you cannot change your mind later. However, for now, it is important to at least tentatively take a stand on a position you believe to be better supported than others.
Label this section as “Position Statement.”
Part Four: Identify and Explain a Supporting Reason
Identify and explain a plausible reason someone could give that supports the position you have taken and be sure to clearly explain why you think it supports that position. The explanation should aim to be three to five sentences (shorter explanations are possible, but will likely be inadequate; longer explanations are likely to be too verbose).
Label this section as “Supporting Reason.”
Part Five: Identify and Explain an Opposing Reason
Identify and explain a plausible reason someone might give that would oppose or challenge the position you have taken and be sure to clearly explain why you think it would oppose or challenge it. The explanation should aim to be three to five sentences (shorter explanations are possible, but will likely be inadequate; longer explanations are likely to be too verbose). You should strive to articulate that reason in a way that someone defending a contrary position to your own would do. This requires stepping back from your own position and being able to think about the problem as objectively as you can. You should not attempt to respond to this opposing reason.