This course has three written assignments that build upon one another and are designed to take you step-by-step through a process of writing a paper that identifies an ethical question, examines the context, issues, and arguments surrounding the question, and attempts to defend an answer to that question using strong moral reasoning.
This second written assignment is a six-part exercise comprised of the following sections:
- Ethical Question
- Explanation of the Ethical Theory
- Application of the Ethical Theory
For sections (1) and (2) revise and expand on what you did in the first assignment.
Sections (3) and (4) are new.
The main purpose of this paper is to define the nature and scope of the ethical theory in a way that shows how the core principle(s) of that theory lead to a specific moral conclusion on your ethical question. Another way to think of this is to explain how someone who is fully committed to the moral reasoning of the ethical theory would answer your ethical question (even if it is not necessarily how you would answer the question).
The assignment should be 900 to 1,000 words, written in essay form with clearly labeled sections as indicated below, and include a title page and reference page.
Part 1: Ethical Question
State the ethical question beneath this heading.
- This question should be on the same topic as the question presented in the week one assignment, and if necessary, revised based on your instructor’s comments and the additional insight and information you have gained from research on the topic. If you would like to switch topics, you should first consult with your instructor.
Place your ethical question beneath the Part 1: Ethical Question heading.
Part 2: Introduction
Provide an introduction to the topic and question.
- This should be revised and expanded from the Week 1 Introduction in light of your instructor’s comments and the additional insight and information you have gained from research on the topic.
- For instance, you may find that your original ideas about the issue have changed and clarified, that the focus of the ethical question has shifted or become more specific, and/or that there are important background and contextual details that need to be explained.
- The revised introduction should reflect your additional thinking on the scope and significance of the ethical issue, and address any feedback provided by your instructor.
- The introduction should be at least 300 words in one or two paragraphs.
Place the introduction material under the Part 2: Introduction heading.
Part 3: Explanation of the Ethical Theory
Ethical theories provide accounts of how to reason well about moral questions and of what justifies answers to those questions. In this section of the paper, you will discuss either the ethical theory of utilitarianism, deontology, or virtue ethics.
You should not discuss your topic in this section, but focus only on the ethical theory.
The discussion should include the following elements:
- A brief account of the historical background of the theory and the philosopher(s) associated with it.
- An explanation of the core moral principle of the theory, or if there is more than one, the principle that you will focus on in applying that theory to your question.
- A brief, general explanation of how the theory and its core moral principle applies to moral questions, using an example different from the issue that is the main focus of your paper. (For example, if your focus is on how deontology applies to using animals in medical research, you could explain Kant’s moral theory by discussing how it would apply to an issue like lying for the sake of the greater good.)
- This section should focus only on the ethical theory. For instance, if you are discussing physician-assisted suicide from a utilitarian perspective, this section should only discuss utilitarianism in general terms; you should not discuss physician-assisted suicide, euthanasia, or other related topics until the next section.
- The discussion should be around 300 words and must incorporate at least one quote from the required resources on the ethical theory you have chosen to discuss.
Place this section under the Part 3: Ethical Theory heading.
Part 4: Application of the Ethical Theory
Now that you have explained in general terms the core principle of the ethical theory you are focusing on in this paper, you will apply that theory and its core principle to your ethical question.
- Explain as clearly and precisely as you can how that principle leads to a particular conclusion.
- You can think of that conclusion as the answer someone would most likely give to your question if they were reasoning along the utilitarian, deontological, or virtue ethics lines you explained in Part 3.
- Note: This conclusion does not need to be the same as the position you stated in the Week 1 assignment. In fact, it could be the opposing position you discussed there. See the remarks about main purpose of the paper above.
- This section should be around 300 words.
Place this section under the Part 4: Application of the Ethical Theory section.
In your paper,
- Identify the ethical question.
- Introduce the topic and question.
- Explain the ethical theory of utilitarianism, deontology, or virtue ethics.
- Apply the selected ethical theory to the ethical question.
The Applying an Ethical Theory paper
- Must be 900 words in length