PHIL 226, Exercise 1, Value Map 1


This assignment is due Thursday, Sept. 27, 8:30., in class. It is worth 7 marks out of 100 for the course.

Late assignments will be accepted until Oct. 2, in class, but will receive a maximum of 5 marks.

After Oct. 2 at 8:30, assignments will not be accepted, except for documented reasons of illlness or family emergency.


Students will analyze an important issue in biomedical ethics using value maps, a kind of cognitive-affective map.

Choose ONE of the two topics below.

Hand in a single page, two-sided, consisting of:

  1. Your last name, first name, student number.
  2. Title: topic question.
  3. Value map of the yes view.
  4. Value map of the no view.
  5. Discussion, 150-200 words, of the similarities and differences between the yes and no views. Provide a word count.
  6. Conclusion, 50-100 words, on why you think the yes map or the no map is ethically superior


1. Is doctor-assisted suicide morally right? Yes or no.

2. Is male circumcision morally right? Yes or no.

Drawing Value Maps

Instructions for drawing cognitive-affective maps are available here.

Each map (maximum 1/2 page) must include:

  1. A node for the topic, e.g ASSISTED SUICIDE, CIRCUMCISION. This will be positive in the yes map and negative in the no map.
  2. At least 5 positive concepts, represented by ovals.
  3. At least 5 negative concepts, represented by hexagons.
  4. Marker of *C* for consequences or *R* for rights for all positive and negative concepts.
  5. At least one concept marked *C* and at least one marked *R*.
  6. At least 3 positive support links between concepts, represented by straight lines.
  7. At least 2 negative conflict links between concepts, represented by dotted lines.
  8. Green circles and red hexagons, if you use colour (optional).
  9. Support for a positive concept (oval) by complimenting it (solid line) with other positive elements.
  10. Support for a positive concept (oval) by having it conflict (dotted line) with a negative concept (hexagon).
  11. Counter-support against negative elements (hexagon) by solid lines to other negative elements or dotted lines to positive elements.

Tools for drawing value maps.

  1. EMPATHICA will be the easiest for many students. Known bugs: does not work with some laptops. Better to use the downloadable version since the Google ap may become unavailable.
  2. Any computer drawing program, e.g. Microsoft Office, OpenOffice, OmniGraffle, Illustrator, etc.
  3. Hand drawing - a stencil will help.


  1. Confuse emotionally positive and negative concepts, or complimentary and conflicting links.
  2. Have the same node both positive and negative.
  3. Have nodes that are completely unconnected to other nodes.
  4. Have connections that don't make sense, e.g. having LOVE OF ANIMALS linked supportively with ANIMAL SUFFERING.
  5. Present both the pro and con side in the same map.


Each value map will be worth 2.5 marks.

The discussion will be worth 1 mark, and the conclusion 1 mark.


1. Pro-vegetarian value map

2. Anti-vegetarian value map


Phil 226

Paul Thagard

Computational Epistemology Laboratory.

This page updated Sept. 26, 2012