Philosophy

For your paper you are to write a brief defense of a moral position (an answer) taken on one of the following questions. You must select one (and no more) of the following questions to write upon. Do NOT pick a question other than one listed below; I will not accept your paper since you didn’t do the assignment.

  • Is gay marriage morally permissible, or is it wrong (regardless of its legal standing)?
  • Is sexuality inherently wrong and only morally permissible under strict guidelines, or is it inherently permissible and only wrong under specific circumstances?
  • Assuming that lawmakers could all come to an agreement on how to legally regulate the practice of prostitution (for adult male and female prostitutes), would it be morally wrong to do so or is it morally permissible?
  • Is abortion morally wrong, or is it morally permissible?
  • Does the fetus have the same moral standing (i.e. require the same moral consideration) as a person, or does the fetus have some different moral standing?
  • Do fathers have as much say as mothers in deciding if an abortion should be performed, or does the mother have sole or superior say in the decision?

The problem with how many people approach moral questions is that they tend to come up with their answer before they do the work of justifying that answer. That is, we frequently find that we have a “gut reaction” to a moral question, assume that this must be correct, and only then proceed to try to convince ourselves and others that our first reaction was correct. Put differently, most people form moral opinions before they have taken the time to think through a theoretical framework that could either uphold or discount their opinion. To combat this tendency, you will be required to answer the above questions differently from the way you might otherwise do it.

In this paper, you must answer in favor of each alternative in the question(s) you have chosen. That is, you must argue for both sides of the issue. Your paper will NOT conclude in favor of one side or another. The task in your paper is to give as compelling a defense of each side, regardless of your personal convictions on the matter. The purpose is to force you to see the kind of philosophical defense possible on each side of an issue. You will see this because you will be responsible for developing each to equal strength. That is, part of your graded evaluation will depend upon your ability to develop both sides equally well.

To accomplish this, YOU MUST ADHERE TO THE FOLLOWING:

  • Apply one or two (and no more) of the moral theories studied earlier in the course to the question you select.
  • Of these theories, you must use either consequentialism, Kant’s deontology, Greek virtue ethics, or Confucian virtue ethics.
  • You do not need to use all of these theories, but you must use at least one and you may not use any others.

You may use one theoretical framework for one side of the issue and a different theoretical framework for the other side, if you think this will work better. For example, you may use consequentialism to argue in favor of gay marriage, while using Greek virtue ethics to argue against gay marriage. You may, of course, use one theory to argue for both sides. In any case, you will also be evaluated in part for the accuracy with which you explain your chosen moral theories as well as the skill with which you apply them to the cases.

Reminder: Look to the general Paper Instructions for guidelines regarding the logistics of the assignment. Remember, you have a three-page minimum and each “page” means 300 words.