The final essay should be about 3,000 words (use your word counter). That is, 9 pages in length, double-spaced, with 1 inch margins, and font size 12. Email it to me.
The essay may cover any of (but only) the topics we covered in the semester. Feel free to write on the same topic you covered in one of your presentations (or clear a new topic with me).
Your essay should have an introduction consisting of a paragraph or two in which you state your thesis and briefly and concisely sketch the argument you will give for your thesis (that is, state the premises you will offer in defense of your thesis).
In addition, I suggest that you organize your essay as follows:
1. After your introduction, defend each of the points counting in favor of your thesis.
2. Then sketch potential criticisms of your thesis, and show why these criticisms fail.
Thus the outline of your essay would look like this:
I. Introduction: state the thesis you will defend, and outline the argument you will give
II. Defense: develop the argument for your thesis
III. Objections and Responses: state potential criticisms of your thesis, and show why these criticisms fail
IV. Summary: review the argument you have given for your thesis.
Your essay will be graded in terms of the following elements:
1. Clarity: your writing should be clear and precise.
2. Completeness: you should address the points made in course materials that bear on your thesis. (Address all relevant points made in the reading and in class discussion.)
3. Organization: your essay should develop logically (it should start with basic concepts and less controversial points then move to more complex concepts and more controversial points).
4. Strength: the arguments you give should be strong, based on uncontroversial assumptions, and you should address likely objections to your position.
5. Originality: making novel points in favor of your position will make your essay especially strong.
While I will not count off for bad grammar, bad grammar is annoying. Follow William Safire?s advice:
No sentence fragments. Avoid run-on sentences they are hard to read. A writer must not shift your point of view. Reserve the apostrophe for it?s proper use and omit it when its not needed. Write all adverbial forms correct. In their writing, everyone should make sure that their pronouns agree with its antecedent. Use the semicolon properly, use it between complete but related thoughts; and not between an independent clause and a mere phrase. Don?t use no double negatives. Also, avoid awkward or affected alliteration. If I?ve told you once, I?ve told you a thousand times: Resist hyperbole. If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is. Avoid commas, that are not necessary. Verbs has to agree with their subjects. Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky. And don?t start a sentence with a conjunction. The passive voice should never be used. Writing carefully, dangling participles should be avoided. Unless you are quoting other people?s exclamations, kill all exclamation points!!! Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do. Proofread carefully to see if you any words out. Use parallel structure when you write and in speaking. You should just avoid confusing readers with misplaced modifiers. Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences?such as those of ten or more words?to their antecedents. Eschew dialect, irregardless. Remember to never split an infinitive. Take the bull by the hand and don?t mix metaphors. Don?t verb nouns. Always pick on the correct idiom. Never, ever use repetitive redundancies. “Avoid overuse of ?quotation “marks.”?” Never use prepositions to end a sentence with. Last but not least, avoid clich?s like the plague.
As far as Singer’s utilitarian ideals such as the theory of effective altruism, in relation to to our obligation to help those in need, I partially agree with an exception. We have a moral duty to help our family as well as the rest of the world, but the first duty outweighs the second.
1. We should prioritize charities that specialize in population control since that is the main reason there is not enough resources for everyone in these impoverished countries. The only exception are catastrophic events or famine occurring in a country, then that should be our priority until it is under control. If these people refuse free birth control and perhaps abortions than we don?t have the obligation to help those that won?t help themselves.
2. The government has the highest responsibility in collecting aid for foreign countries. They also have the responsibility to decide which disasters to prioritize in order to do the most overall good. And since in our case we are a democracy who elect politicians to be our voice in government, we then have a voice in the matter. However, private aid should also be encouraged through the media. I think the more media coverage we receive the more obligated people will feel to help those in need.
3. Morally, we should voluntarily give to charities a substantial amount of our income as long as it does not significantly affect our overall well-being such as our accessibility to healthcare. However, we are allowed to psychologically prioritize our family while keeping in mind the severity of all the situations. We should never give to charities as much money as we can until we reach the level of marginal utility because we must think about our families well-being first and save some money in case of an emergency.
1. John Hospers and Robert Nozick argue that there are no positive duties, such as those that help others accomplish their goals. They suggest every individual has the right to do as he pleases with his possessions even if it means people will die of hunger.
a. At first glance this argument seems valid, however, it is extremely selfish. Additionally, the less we help, the more it will affect us in the long run. A perfect example is the Tragedy of the Commons, described by Hardin, which will undoubtedly affect us eventually by reducing the amount of available resources even for us, even if it takes a couple hundred years, it is inevitable. We have to remember that population control, as long as it causes more good than bad, is a valid method of help.
2. Singer suggests that if no one gives voluntarily then eventually the government would assume that their citizens are uninterested in giving aid to those in need and would not wish to and if only private citizens give then they would be doing more harm by preventing government aid.
a. In a democracy there will always be people who will push for government involvement, especially during catastrophic disasters.
3. We should never prioritize situations psychologically or because of proximity. The action that provides the most overall good should be the one we take.
b. We are allowed to be marginally selfish when it comes to immediate family. It is our instinctual duty and that should be taken into account. If we sacrifice so much to the point where we have no reserves for emergencies for ourselves and rely on a global plan to help each other we lose control of the situation. And it’s obvious many nations do not like us and wish for our demise so what happens when we are faced with not enough provided resources for ourselves. In order for this to work we must have a contingency plan or we face the risk of losing control.
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