What is the purpose of this paper?
You are going to use the ideas in a philosophical work to answer a thought problem as if you were a disciple of that philosopher. Here are the choices of works and thought problems. You may not mix and match. Each reading must be used with its thought problem and vice versa:
Joseph Fletcher’s “Responsible Decision Making” and the The Trolley Problem (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOpf6KcWYyw)
Jessie Kalin’s “In Defense of Egoism” and People Seeds (https://youtu.be/PfvICPqprC0)
“Virtue” from Aristotle’s The Nicomachean Ethics and The Plank of Carneades (https://youtu.be/5_bXlLgEnoo)
Robert Nozick’s “The Entitlement Theory of Justice” beginning on page 122 in Doing Ethics and Political: Orginal Position(https://youtu.be/nO5me_5c8dM)
This paper should be presented in MLA style and be between 1000 and 1250 words.
Where do I begin?
First, you need to create a thesis about what your philosopher’s response would be to the thought experiment. For example, if I were to use Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” to solve The Experience Machine (https://youtu.be/QlgepnXl6vc):
Plato would not endorse the use of the Euphio machine because he wants people to seek the reality of forms instead of being content with shadows of those forms.
Your thesis will be different from mine but it will share these traits:
It will mention both texts within the thesis
It will give one concept in the tool piece (“seeking the reality of forms”) and one concept in the analyzed piece (“the use of the Euphio machine”) that can be discussed in relationship to each other.
It will be clear on what the relationship is between the tool and the thought problem. Here the tool is going to help clarify the thought problem.
Second, you need to give a critical précis of the important arguments you will be using from your philosopher. This will give your reader a good idea of the relevant arguments in the reading. Since the critical précis is only part of this paper, it needs to be succinct and focused. Although these can be longer than a paragraph, you can see in this example from Bakersfield College how a critical précis can be compressed into a single paragraph with planning and a clear idea of the arguments chosen from the original text.
Third, you give a clear well-reasoned argument as to why your philosopher would solve the thought experiment in the way you claimed he would in your thesis:
When Plato uses the analogy of the cave, he is trying to explain to his listeners that anyone who could understand the underlying forms of things would be considered mad by people in the everyday world. Plato believed that people only experienced projections of the true forms of ideas. An example of this would be if a person’s conception of what a bear was had been based entirely on pictures of bears and owning a stuffed teddy bear. Although it could be said that she has an idea of “bear-ness”, the reflections of what an actual bear is – the pictures and teddy – cannot encompass the full concept of a bear as it exists in reality. Consequently, Plato imagines people as at one remove from the real world already because he considers them incapable of perceiving the true form of anything, only shadows of that form. A Euphio machine inserted into the cave would be no worse than the shadows, since neither conveys real experience, but it would be significantly better in that it would only project pleasant and happy experiences, something Plato’s shadows do not guarantee. Plato’s cave dwellers could only perceive an increase in happiness if the Euphio replaced their fire so Plato would consider them better off than before but no closer to truth.
Finally, you need to conclude with a paragraph that summarizes your argument about whether the tool text is useful for evaluating thought problem. Are these a well-matched set? Why or why not?
What should I avoid?
Try to avoid focusing on your own opinions until the final paragraph of the paper. The bulk of this paper should be about what the readings say and how one comments on the other. All but the last paragraph of this paper should be in third person (he, she, they) only. The last paragraph may use some first (I, me, us, we, our) person but there should be no second (you, your) person anywhere in this paper. Be sure that you are analyzing – examining a text closely to see if it is coherent or if there are meaningful counter-arguments – and use the ideas of the tool text as a way of finding spaces for analysis of the thought experiment
What is the grading criteria for this assignment?
An “A” paper will be:
in correct MLA format throughout, including a Works Cited page that has an entry for the piece from your text and the thought experiment video.
of appropriate length, not significantly longer than 1250 words or shorter than 1000 words.
well-constructed with a clear introduction, a precis and a summary of the thought experiment, at least two analysis paragraphs, and a conclusion
thorough in its coverage of the argument, not missing or misinterpreting any major points.
relatively free of mechanical errors.
A “C” paper will be:
in a format other than MLA or no discernable format but with some attempt at organization and with a bibliographic reference page.
of reasonable length, not significantly longer than 1250 words or shorter than 1000 words.
an attempt at well-constructed with a clear introduction, a precis and a summary of the thought experiment, at least two analysis paragraphs, and a conclusion but may be missing one section or have one or two sections that are poorly developed
spotty in its coverage of the argument; missing, misinterpreting, or misrepresenting some major points.
readable, although there may be consistent and persistent mechanical errors the author makes sense.
A “F” paper will be:
in no discernable format without an attempt at organization or a bibliographic reference page.
of random length, significantly longer than 1250 words or shorter than 1000 words.
lacking a clear demarcation among sections or lacking two or more sections.
missing, misinterpreting, or misrepresenting the main argument and major points.
difficult to read due to consistent and persistent mechanical errors.