Ronit Stahl and Ezekiel Emanuel recently published an influential article on conscientious objection in healthcare in the well-known scholarly medical journal The New England Journal of Medicine. The short essay (4 ½ pages) is posted under course documents. In this essay, Stahl and Emanuel argue that conscientious objection should almost never be permitted for healthcare providers.
Your assignment is to read Stahl and Emanuel’s essay carefully and then to write about it. You should charitably formulate their argument, explain its validity and the reasons Stahl and Emanuel give for its soundness, and then evaluate it (a handout dealing with some of this is also posted under course documents in the Skills, Arguments, Writing folder with the title: “Argument Texts, Reading, Formulating Arguments, Evaluating!”). In discussing Stahl and Emanuel’s defense of their argument, you should identify whether they are appealing to reasoning from the Hippocratic ethical tradition, the respect for persons tradition, or some mix of these. To evaluate the argument, you should formulate a potential counterargument to it including an explanation of which part (which premises or assumptions) of the argument the counterargument is meant to undermine. You should then explain whether you think there is a good response that can be made to the counterargument, or whether you think the counterargument is successful, and why.
The essay should be clear, accurate, and concise, but should also explain and define key ideas in ways that the reader will be able to understand even if they are not already familiar with the issue or with Stahl and Emanuel’s essay.
The essay will thus have roughly the following structure:
Introduction of the issue of conscientious objection and of Stahl and Emanuel’s essay
Premise-conclusion presentation of their main argument as you have interpreted this.
Paragraph-formatted explanation of the validity of the main argument.
Discussion of why Stahl and Emanuel think their premises are true (soundness), including consideration of how their reasoning relates to the Hippocratic and respect for persons ethical traditions.
Clear formulation of a potential counterargument/objection to Stahl and Emanuel’s argument.
Assessment of the counterargument; is there a way to defend Stahl and Emanuel’s position against it, or is the counterargument successful in showing their argument to be mistaken? Explain.
The whole assignment will take about 3-4 double-spaced typed 1-inch margin 12 point font pages.
Be sure to include a bibliography at the end, even if you only cite the article the essay is about. The citation for Stahl and Emanuel is below. If you consult any other sources, be sure to include them in your bibliography as well. In text, be sure to use quotes and cite if/when quoting, (Stahl and Emanuel 2017, p. #).
Citation in APA: Stahl, R. Y. & Emanuel, E. J. (2017). Physicians, not conscripts – Conscientious objection in health care. The New England Journal of Medicine, 376(14), 1380 – 1385.
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