Papers are due Saturday, November 7th, at 11:00 p.m. The D2L Brightspace Assignments box will remain open beyond this date to accept late papers. Late papers will be penalized one full grade per day late. Format your paper properly and do not wait until the last minute to submit!


  • Submit MS Word, plain text, open text, or rich text documents only (no pdfs) in the D2L Drop Box. I need the documents in one of these formats so that I can write on them with my tablet PC. Late papers will be assessed a penalty of one letter grade per day.
  • Three to five (3-6) pages in length (double-spaced, 12 pt. font, standard margins) excluding title page, abstract (if required by your chosen style). Use common sense if you go over/under this range.
  • Save documents as follows: FIRST NAME – LAST NAME – PAPER 2
  • Papers should conform to either APA or MLA style parameters (choose one, be consistent). See Purdue OWL website for help.


  • Using clear reasoning, persuade the reader to adopt your moral position
  • Show thorough understanding of the assigned, philosophical material
  • Apply abstract ethical concepts and principles to concrete moral situations
  • Read the rubric and writing guidance I’ve posted under D2L Brightspace content


  • Be comprehensive – discuss all key concepts of the theory or argument and how they are applied to the ethical situation at hand – show understanding.
  • Be clear – define important terms, give reasons for your positions (ask yourself, “Have I answered, ‘why’?”), use ordinary language, break down arguments into small bites, give examples, etc. Understand the material before writing a single word.
  • Be concise – say your piece as briefly as possible.
  • Be consistent – do not skip between theories; take a position and stick with it.

Your paper should analyze the issue and apply your chosen moral theory to the dilemma. Show mastery of the assigned material. Do not just repeat or paraphrase. Read carefully, close the text, then explain and clarify in your own words. Assume no knowledge of your reader.

  1. Articulate the problem and assess why it is relevant or what it is trying to solve. 
    1. Follow a logical path as you resolve the moral issue (your reader should easily be able to outline your argument). 
    1. Work through every step of the argument on your own, drawing on and referencing the materials we’ve used in class to support your case.
    1. Explain the main concepts and principles and how they relate to the issue.
    1. Cite quotations where appropriate, remembering that examples and quotations do not explain themselves. 
    1. Include one, brief counter-argument (a serious criticism with reasons against your position, replying in a way that fairly dismisses the concern). 

Argumentative Paper Structure

  1. Thesis: set up the structure of your argument
    1. A good argumentative thesis will accomplish three main goals:
      1. It establishes the issue at hand
      1. It takes a clear, unambiguous position
      1. It previews the line of reasoning, concepts and principles that you will use to persuade the reader of your conclusion
  1. Body: the length of this section of your paper will depend on how you argue. It will flow logically from one point to the next. Philosophical theories, principles, or concepts should be carefully integrated and well applied. Reasons given in support of your thesis should be well explained and justified. Any key terms, concepts or principles should be defined and properly used. Generally speaking, each supporting reason is its own paragraph. 
    1. Reason 1 (supporting main position)
      1. Support for reason 1
      1. Additional support, as needed…
    1. Reason 2 (supporting main position) 1. Support for reason 2
      1. Additional support…
      1. Repeat as needed
  1. Counter-Argument: a strong criticism of your argument
    1. A counter-argument shows that you can objectively assess your own reasons, charitably interpret an opposing position, and reply in advance to likely criticisms. A good counter-argument should contain: 
      1. A clear counter-position (this will challenge an existing reason in your argument or raise an omitted one to which you need to respond)
      1. Its own reasons (supporting the counter-position)
      1. Additional support as needed
      1. Be charitable and fair
  1. Reply to Counter-Argument: a strong response defending your thesis.
    1. Explain why the reasoning in the counter-argument fails to dissuade
    1. Do not simply restate your position or previously given reasons
    1. Support your reply as much as necessary for your defense
  • Conclusion: wrap it up
    • Briefly summarize your argument and remind your reader of your conclusion.
Persuasive Writing Rubric
How well does the paper convey the writer’s thoughts? Can points be further elaborated upon, explained or expressed in another way? Could examples or illustrations be used to better express the thought? Do grammatical issues affect its professional appearance or interfere with its readability? Paper does not convey thoughts clearly. Elaboration and/or illustration absent. Many grammatical issues may hamper clarity.Paper conveys thoughts with some clarity. Elaboration and/or illustration is weak. Some grammatical issues may hamper clarity.Paper conveys thoughts clearly. Elaboration and/or illustration is helpful. Few if any grammatical issues.Paper conveys thoughts very clearly. Elaboration and/or illustration is insightful. No grammatical issues.
Does the paper show understanding of the course material? Are the positions accurate? Are authors accurately explained? Are quotes in context? Are central principles and concepts defined and used correctly? Does the paper show original thoughts in applying the material to the topic?Paper does not show understanding of the course material. Incorrect positions, inadequate explanations and misused quotations may exist. Omits central concepts and principles. No application of theory or original thoughts on the material.Paper shows some understanding of the course material. Few incorrect positions, inadequate explanations and misused quotations exist. Mentions central concepts and principles but may need further explanation. Shows limited original thought on the material.Paper shows understanding of the course material. No incorrect positions. Explanations are adequate, and quotations properly used. Uses and explains most central concepts and principles. Applies theory well. Shows original thought on the material.Paper shows deep understanding of the course material. No incorrect positions. Explanations are excellent, and quotations properly used. Uses and explains central concepts and principles. Extremely well applied theory. Shows much original thought on the material.
How well does the paper persuade? Is the thesis paragraph clear and concise? Does the structure of the argument help or hinder its acceptance? Are all assumptions and opinions justified? Are its premises rational and logically supporting its conclusion?Paper is not persuasive. Thesis is omitted or difficult to find. Structure hinders the reasoning. Opinions or assumptions are unjustified. Either lacks premises or premises do not logically support the conclusion.Paper is less than persuasive. Thesis is unclear or buried. Structure may hinder the reasoning. May contain unjustified opinions or assumptions. Premises loosely support the conclusion.Paper is persuasive. Thesis is clear but could be refined. Structure aids in conveying the reasoning. Opinions or assumptions are justified. Premises support the conclusion.Paper is very persuasive. Thesis is clear and concise. Structure conveys the reasoning well. Opinions or assumptions are well justified. Premises directly support the conclusion.
How fairly does the paper present the material? Are biases kept in check? Does the paper consider contrary views and/or counterarguments (with their own reasons)? Are opposing arguments treated fairly and given charitable readings?Paper is unfair and biased. Does not consider contrary views or/counter-arguments.Paper is somewhat unfair and biased. Contrary views are unfairly considered, and counter-arguments are misrepresented or lacking in reasoning.Paper is fair and unbiased. Contrary views are considered, and counter-arguments are fairly represented with reasons.Paper is extremely fair and unbiased. Contrary views are considered, and counter-arguments are well-reasoned, strong and fair.
How professional is the end product? Is it properly formatted? Are all requirements met and all directions carefully followed? Is it submitted on time? Paper is unprofessional. Includes glaring formatting errors. Omits many, requirements. Directions are not followed. May be submitted late.Paper is less than professional. Includes some formatting errors. Omits some requirements. Some directions are not followed.Paper is professional. Few, if any, formatting errors. Few, if any, omitted requirements. Directions are generally followed.Paper is very professional. No formatting errors. All requirements met. Directions are carefully followed.


TOPIC #2: Selective Abortion of Down Syndrome Fetus Read this Mayo Clinic article on diagnosis and treatment options for D.S. pregnancies.

Ten (10) weeks into her pregnancy, Mary’s fetus is diagnosed with Down Syndrome. She and her late husband (who died two weeks ago) had tried to become pregnant for years before finally conceiving. She wants an abortion. 

Is it morally permissible to abort a fetus because she has Down Syndrome? Why? Why not?

Regardless of the position you take, you must justify it by reference to Judith

Jarvis Thomson and either Pope John Paul II, Mary Anne Warren, or Susan Sherwin. Rather than simply quoting or restating the philosopher, explain and defend the chosen argument in your own words, apply it to the case study above, and connect it logically to the moral theories, principles, and concepts we’ve read and discussed in class, paying especially close attention to those used by individual philosophers. Write as if persuading a non-expert (e.g. define, explain, clarify). Show understanding of the complex moral issue, (possible) conflicting duties, and how you reconcile them. See rubric for help.

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