Ethics Term Paper (Robert N. Van Wyk OR Peter Singer)

Consider the following case:

You are a member of the country of Eggonia’s Grand Council on Ethics. The council has been given charge of deciding whether or not your country’s citizens are morally obligated to send famine relief to the neighboring country of Furesia. In centuries past, both countries had thriving economies that were based on a small egg-laying mammal called the ‘frazzle’. During the summer, frazzles would migrate to Furesia where they would shed their fur. Furesians would collect the furs and sell them to neighboring countries. In the winter, frazzles would travel to Eggonia where they would mate and lay their eggs. Eggonians would then harvest and sell the eggs. A hundred or so years ago, the Eggonians discovered that they could capture the frazzles and keep them locked up in factories where they could produce eggs all year round. (Keep in mind that while in captivity, fur ceases to grow on the frazzles.) While this resulted in a booming Eggonian economy (roughly as prosperous as the current U.S. economy), it also had the effect of bringing the Furesian economy to ruin. With almost no natural resources, the Furesians have been undergoing a devastating famine that has cost millions of lives over the past fifty years.

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Directions: You are to write a paper expressing an argument as to whether or not individual Eggonians are required to send aid to the Furesians. In the process of doing so, you will most likely need to focus on discussing either Singer’s or Van Wyk’s views of economic justice in detail (see below for details). A successful paper will meet the following conditions:

1. Your paper must offer a clear, well-organized, fully explained, and compelling case for the position that you support. If you think that Eggonians have an obligation to famine victims, you should appeal to the reasoning of either Singer or Van Wyk to make your case and discuss all aspects of that philosopher’s view that are relevant to the preceding case. Otherwise you can, if you should so choose, present your own philosophical position although you should know that this is a VERY DIFFICULT option. Should you decide to present an original argument of your own, you will need to run it by me first before writing your paper. If you think that your fellow countrymen do not have an obligation to famine victims then you can argue as to why Singer’s or Van Wyk’s position is wrong (most likely by developing some of the objections against those philosophers that were mentioned in class). You might also choose to develop an original argument claiming that we have no obligation to famine victims (again, the more DIFFICULT option).

NOTE: Whether you are arguing in favor of or in opposition to famine relief, you can discuss either Singer or Van Wyk but not both! If you choose to discuss one of these philosophers, you should provide a thorough discussion of his position.

2. If you think aid should be offered to the Furesians, what form do you think this aid should take? If you don’t think that aid is required, what, if anything, do you think can be done to help them?

3. All elements of your argumentation must be supported and explained completely. Avoid superficial and vague discussions. You should demonstrate a great deal of thoughtfulness about your topic and a mastery of the key concepts presented in your arguments.

4. A complete paper will include definitions and explanations of key terms.

5. You must consider the strongest objection(s) to the position that you support and give a sophisticated discussion of how your position can respond to this objection(s).

6. Discuss the extent to which you think that the circumstances surrounding Eggonia and Furesia represent the actual situation in the world today. What are your thoughts about what (if anything) wealthy countries should do for poor countries?

7. Avoid discussing any purely practical problems that are not really relevant to the moral principles involved in the discussion. For example, do not discuss the problems that might result from charity groups swindling money, questions about how the food and so forth can actually get transported to the Furesians, etc.

8. Be creative and thoughtful! Use your philosophical skills to the fullest. Argue as if millions of dollars and lives really did depend on the strength of the argument that you will provide.

Suggested Outline:

I. Intro
II. Discussion of either Singer’s or Van Wyk’s view
III. What would either Singer or Van Wyk have to say about the case?
IV. Objection to either Singer or Van Wyk.
V. Your position in detail
a. Include a discussion of whether you think Singer or Van Wyk can avoid the objection against them that you discussed).
VI. To what extent do you believe that the circumstances surrounding Eggonia and Furesia resemble the actual circumstances that exist regarding wealthy and poor countries? What, if anything, should wealthy countries do to help poor countries?
VII. Conclusion

***IMPORTANT:

1) If you have a situation that you believe may prevent you from turning your paper in on time, you need to contact me ASAP! Students who do not contact me and turn in a paper late for whatever reason without documentation of an excused absence should expect their paper to be docked a late penalty.

2) If you submit a rough draft to me through email, you should expect to receive a confirmation that I’ve received it within two days. If you do not receive a confirmation and I do not receive your paper for whatever reason, it is your responsibility to make sure that I’ve received it. Otherwise, email malfunctions, etc., will not excuse late papers.

* Keep in mind that while the preceding is a general outline of what I’ll be looking for, it doesn’t cover everything. You should address all facets of a philosopher’s view that are relevant to the paper topic.

* Try to avoid quotations by paraphrasing whenever possible. If you feel that a quotation is absolutely essential, make sure to cite the appropriate page.

* If you choose to write a paper on a subject other than what is specifically given in this assignment, you must receive an okay from me first or I will not accept it.

* Try not to simply repeat my notes back to me. Try restating them in your own words or expanding on the ideas.

* Good luck and let me know if you have any questions.

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