Paper Assignment, Philosophy 101, Fall 2009 Hettinger
The paper should be 5-7 pages (double space, typewritten) and explore a topic in any area of philosophy that we discuss in this course (e.g., ethics, aesthetics, philosophy of religion, social & political philosophy, epistemology, philosophy of mind, metaphysics). The paper counts for 34% of your course grade and so it should be a significant effort.
You choose the topic. Any topic that we have discussed in class or that is considered in the assigned reading is suitable. You may, if you want, write on a topic we haven't discussed in class and on which there is no assigned reading–though this will require more careful philosophy research work. All topics must in some way relate to the course content and refer to and use the course materials relevant to your subject. (It must be clear the writer of the paper was in this class.) If you write on a topic the course specifically addresses, your paper should show a thorough understanding of the readings and class discussions on the issue. Some suggestions for suitable topics are listed below.
A paper proposal is due on Friday, October 30th, 1pm, 14 Glebe, 1st floor mailbox (my mailbox is inside with my name on it). Keep a copy for yourself as well. It should include a characterization of your topic, the major lines of argument you intend to pursue, tentative thesis, and a full bibliographic citation and a paragraph description of the content of one philosophical article you plan to use in your paper. The paper is due on Friday, November 20th, 1pm, 14 Glebe mailbox. (Again keep a copy for yourself.)
The paper should be a philosophy paper in which you focus on normative, evaluative, or conceptual issues. (Always ask: What should we do concerning this issue and why? What are the philosophical, ethical, and conceptual questions which must be answered if this issue is to be resolved?)
One outside (not read as part of the course) philosophical article must be used in your paper. Those of you who write on a topic not specifically covered on the schedule of assignments will have to rely more on your outside philosophical article. Although I require that you interact with the ideas from some philosophy article that we have not read in the class, the main point of the paper is to have you think philosophically for yourself; the outside reading is meant to help stimulate your own thinking and to make sure your paper is philosophical in nature.
One good way to find an article related to your topic is to use The Philosopher's Index. This is a database searchable on line via the library. You can find it here: http://www.cofc.edu/library/find/databases/index.php#p
It lists philosophical articles by title, author, and subject matter. Another way to find a philosophical article on your topic is to search specific journals in areas related to your topic. I may also give you suggestions for articles with my comments on your paper proposal. You might also try PhilPaper: On line research in philosophy at http://philpapers.org/
Here is a list of some of the philosophy journals our library carries: Philosophy and Public Affairs, Between the Species, Bibliography of Bioethics, Bioethics, Biology and Philosophy, Business and Professional Ethics Journal, Environmental Ethics, Ethics, Feminist Review, Hastings Center Report, Hypatia (Feminism), International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, Journal of Applied Philosophy, Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, Journal of Medical Ethics, Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, Journal of Religion, Journal of Value Inquiry, Law and Philosophy. Journal of the History of Philosophy, Journal of Philosophy, Metaphilosophy, Monist, Nous; A Quarterly Journal Of Philosophy, Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, Philosophical Forum, Philosophical Quarterly, Philosophical Topics, Philosophy, Philosophy and Literature, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Philosophy East and West, Philosophy of Science-(East Lansing), Phronesis, Southern Journal of Philosophy, Canadian Journal of Philosophy, Economy and Philosophy, American Philosophical Quarterly, Analysis-(Blackwell), Australasian Journal of Philosophy, History of Philosophy Quarterly, Inquiry, International Philosophical Quarterly.
Some possible topics (or topic areas) you might choose to make your own
1. Some dimension of the cultural relativism issue. (Are morals relative to culture?)
2. The ethics of “female circumcision.”
3. Euthanasia; active versus passive euthanasia
5. Subjectivism in ethics; emotivism.
6. Are there moral facts? Is there proof in ethics?
7. Sexual morality (See Singer’s Companion to Ethics article on Sex by Belliotti); Plain Sex, Goldman
8. The morality of homosexuality; Naturalness and homosexuality
9. Date rape; consent and sexuality
10. Arguments for and against God’s existence
11. The cosmological argument for God’s existence
12. The design argument for God’s existence
13. The problem of evil
14. Faith and reason
15. The compatibility/incompatibility of science and religion (including evolution and religion)
16. Religious exclusivism versus religious pluralism
17. Religion and the environment
18. Relationships between religion and morality; natural law theory
19. Doctrine of double effect
20. Evaluating psychological egoism
21. For (or against) ethical egoism; Ann Rand’s egoism
22. Prisoner’s dilemma and morality
23. World hunger and the duty to contribute to famine relief
24. Critique or defense of utilitarianism
25. Ethics and human treatment of animals; ethics and zoos; ethics and circuses; The ethics of the use of animals for fur or food; Pets and morality; Hunting;
26. Are there absolute moral rules? Is torture ever morally permissible?
27. Theories of punishment; Desert and the death penalty; retribution versus rehabilitation
28. Is morality founded on a social contract?
29. Justifying civil (or uncivil) disobedience
30. Morality and flag burning
31. The ethics of patriotism
32. Arguments for and against legalization of drugs
33. Legal paternalism and dwarf tossing
34. Legal moralism
35. The offence principle
36. Defense of the harm principle as the only legitimate liberty limiting principle
37. Obscenity: How to define it and should it be regulated?
38. An assessment of feminist ethics
39. An assessment of virtue ethics
40. Feminism: A philosophical appraisal
41. Sexual equality and what it entails for our society
42. Reverse discrimination and affirmative action
43. Ethics of cloning; of genetic engineering
44. Ethics of War and Peace
45. The meaning of life
46. The mind/body problem
47. In what does personal identity consist?
48. Physicalism: for and against
49. Free will and determinism: We do (or do not) have free will (and what is it?)
50. Animal liberation and environmental ethics
51. Virtue ethics and the environment
52. Is patriotism a virtue?
53. Treating people as they deserve; distributive justice (rich/poor)