applied ethics

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1. Select an issue in applied ethics — a real-world problem that society faces. This can be anything you want, but some examples are capital punishment, gun rights and regulations, euthanasia, physician-assisted suicide, the government’s role in providing access to healthcare, corporate behavior, environmental issues, data privacy, or animal rights. Just pick a topic that our society argues about and that has at least two opposing sides.

2. Research the issue by gathering information from reliable sources. For example: statistics or data from government websites, peer-reviewed articles published in scholarly journals, research published by unbiased organizations such as Pew, etc. Do not use sources that are biased or have a particular political agenda. In doing the research, ask yourself what facts someone would need to know before deciding for themselves how the issue should be handled. For example, if you were discussing access to healthcare, you would want to know exactly what role the government currently plays in healthcare, how many Americans have health insurance and what it costs, how the U.S. healthcare system compares to that of other countries, etc.

2. Select two moral theories from the list below:

virtue ethics
ethics of care
natural law theory
Kantian ethics

3. Obtain at least one primary source for each theory. A primary source is something written by one of the philosophers we study (e.g. Aristotle, Carol Gilligan, Thomas Aquinas, Kant, etc.). All of the Readings in the course — not the Handouts — are primary sources, but you may also find a book or article written by the philosopher in a library or on the internet.

4. Write a 10-12 page term paper that does the following:

Briefly explain your issue, giving the facts you have found and citing the sources where you found them. Then explain why the issue creates a moral dilemma and why people disagree about it.
Briefly explain the two theories you have chosen, citing at least one primary source for each theory. Use direct quotes or paraphrases from the source to explain the theory and back up your description of it. [Note: When students do poorly on the term paper, this is usually the part that they don’t spend enough time on. You will need at least a page to describe each moral theory. Pretend you are explaining the theory to someone who has never heard of it, and be sure to go into some detail.]
Give an analysis of the issue from the point of view of each theory. How would the theory approach the issue? What solution would it argue for? Compare and contrast how the two theories would handle the issue.
Say which theory you think handles the issue better, and why that theory does that better than the other does. You may also argue for which theory you agree with more in general, or how you would personally solve the issue. [Note: There is no right answer in this part of the paper. Just reasonable and honest. If it turns out that you don’t think either theory does a good job, just say that and explain why.]

Use APA style to cite your sources properly.

I know that citations can be annoying and feel like busy-work, but they aren’t. They are a service to your reader. You have probably wondered many times, “Where did the author get that statistic? Is that really true?” or “Did Aristotle really say that? Where? I need to go read that for myself.” Citations enable your reader to answer those questions.
Avoid plagiarism. Explain things in your own words. Do not cut and paste things into the paper with the intention of putting them in your own words later. There is a strong chance you will forget.
No more than 10% of your paper should be direct quotes, even if they are cited correctly. Don’t let other people write the paper for you.
Never list a source at the end of the paper that you did not actually cite in the paper itself.

Term Paper Rubric
Criteria Ratings Pts
This criterion is linked to a Learning Outcome Use of Good English
10 pts
This criterion is linked to a Learning Outcome Use of MLA or APA Style
10 pts
This criterion is linked to a Learning Outcome Organization
12 pts
This criterion is linked to a Learning Outcome Summary of Issue or Work of Fiction
12 pts
This criterion is linked to a Learning Outcome Summary of First Theory
14 pts
This criterion is linked to a Learning Outcome Summary of Second Theory
14 pts
This criterion is linked to a Learning Outcome Application of First Theory
14 pts
This criterion is linked to a Learning Outcome Application of Second Theory
14 pts
Total Points: 100

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