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Week 3 Ethics and Moral Reasoning

Applying an Ethical Theory


Choose either utilitarian or deontological ethical theory to complete this assignment. Write a paper that applies the theory you have chosen to the thesis problem that you selected in Week One and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of that theory in relation to the issue. You should try to follow these guidelines in writing your paper:

  1. Introduction:
    This should be one paragraph, no more than 120 words. The last sentence of the introduction should be a thesis sentence that briefly states how the question is viewed from the perspective of the ethical theory you have chosen.
  2. Body:
    Each paragraph in the body should start with a topic sentence that clearly identifies the main idea of the paragraph. Each paragraph should have at least four sentences.
  3. Application:
    You should spend approximately 300 words explaining how the ethical theory applies to the question/thesis you have chosen. Your application should be detailed and go beyond the obvious. For example, if you were examining criminal punishment from a utilitarian perspective, you should look not only at the suffering of those punished, but also the positive and negative effects of punishments on other individuals and society as a whole. This is harder than it sounds. You will need to spend time researching and thinking about this. Do not rely on instinct or anecdotal evidence. Instead, do the research, gather information from articles and readings, and defend your interpretation of the strengths and weaknesses of the theory in relation to the topic.
  4. Strengths:
    You should spend approximately 150 words discussing the strengths of the theory as it applies to the ethical issue you have chosen. You should briefly raise at least two objections to the theoretical interpretation of the issue.
  5. Weaknesses:
    You should spend approximately 150 words discussing the weaknesses of the theory as it applies to the ethical issue you have chosen. What important things does the theory miss or get wrong about this question? Why ?
  6. Conclusion:
    This should be one paragraph, no more than 150 words. The conclusion should very briefly review the main points of your essay and must contain a paraphrased restatement of your thesis.

Tips for successful completion of this assignment:

  • Make sure that you first understand the theory that you are using to interpret the best actions in relation to the issue that you identified in Week One. If you do not understand the theory, you will not be able to apply it adequately to the topic.
  • Be honest about the strengths and weaknesses of the theory in relation to the issue. You do not need to dogmatically defend one view. Part of balanced philosophical analysis involves objective analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of one’s position.
  • The reasons that you present in your paper should abide by philosophical standards. They should be backed in evidence and logical reasoning. Believing something because one has been taught to believe it is not a sufficient reason to hold that belief. Avoid using anecdotal evidence, and be sure to attempt to prove that your reasons are grounded in evidence that is convincing.

The paper must be 600 to 900 words (excluding title and reference pages) in length and formatted according to APA style. You must use at least two scholarly resources from this week’s Required Resources to support your claims. Cite your sources within the text of your paper and on the reference page. For information regarding APA, including samples and tutorials, visit the Ashford Writing Center, located within the Learning Resources tab on the left navigation toolbar.

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