Phil 226: ESSAY. 2010

Essays (23% of the marks for this course) are due March 18.

Essays should not be longer that 8 pages, typed, double spaced, (2,400 words, including title and bibliography). You should consult sources other than the textbook: for pointers, see the references in the textbook. the Web links, and the Encylopedia of Bioethics in reference at Porter Library. Indicate your sources using any standard reference format. Include a word count.

The penalty for late essays is 10% per week late: if you hand it in after class Mar. 18, you lose 10%, and after Mar. 25 is another 10%. Extensions will be granted for reasons of documented medical illness or family emergency, but not workload (this essay was assigned Jan. 12). The penalty for plagiarism (passing another person's work off as your own) is a course grade of F and referral to the Associate Dean.

See: How to avoid plagiarism.

NOTE: The final day to hand in an essay and get any marks for it (20% off) is April 1, in class.

The only grounds for extensions are serious medical problems (doctor's note required) or documented family emergencies.

Essays will be evaluated on the basis of:

1. Relevance: pose and try to answer an important question in biomedical ethics.

2. Research: use resources beyond the textbooks.

3. Writing: write intelligibly.

4. Argument: make a compelling case for the answer you prefer, and consider alternative answers. Essays will be graded on the quality of the argument, not on the particular conclusion you reach.

The format does not matter, but make sure that you indicate all your sources, including Web sites. This is a research essay so you should use 5-10 sources in addition to the textbooks. Include at least one reference to the textbooks.

Your essay MUST have the following headings:

1. The issue. State the question you are trying to answer.

2. Alternatives. State possible answers to your question.

3. Evaluation. Use a combination of ethical arguments and empirical evidence to evaluate different answers to your question.

4. Conclusion. On the basis of the evidence for the different alernatives, argue for what you see as the best answer to the question.




Essays not using these headings will be penalized 25%.

Essay topics

This is a tentative list, Jan. 11, 2010. The topics are quite general, and your research may lead you to consider more specific questions.

1. Is the Canadian health system ethically justified?

2. Should access to health care be limited based on behaviors such as high alcohol consumption and smoking?

3. What is informed consent and how should it operate in medical decision making?

4. What obligations do health care professionals have to provide information to their patients?

5. What ethical constraints should be placed on experimentation with human subjects?

6. From an ethical perspective, when is a person dead?

7. Is abortion right or wrong?

8.Is euthanasia right or wrong?

9. Do people have a right to have children?

10. Should humans be cloned?

11. Propose your own project. This must be approved in advance: submit two copies of a 1-page description by Feb. 11. The project must be closely connected with the contents of the course.

William Safire's rules for good writing:

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 a ll 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 clichés like the plague.

Strunk's Elements of Style.

Phil 226

Computational Epistemology Laboratory.

Paul Thagard

This page updated Jan. 18, 2010