Short Argument Paper 1
Write a one- to two-page paper (single spaced) in which you argue for some position on a specific social issue. In selecting a topic, keep in mind that you will have to argue for an opposing view in the second assignment and that the topic will be the basis for all three parts of this assignment.
Here’s what you must do:
1. Write a brief introduction to the topic. Explain what the social issue is, why it is important, and what you are going to do in the paper (thesis and outline of development). This should be no more than five sentences.
2. Present an argument defending your thesis. The conclusion of the argument should be something like “x is morally wrong” or “x is morally permissible but not obligatory,” etc. Your argument must be valid if deductive, or strongly support the conclusion if inductive.
3. Support at least one of your premises, preferably the weakest or most controversial, with a subsidiary argument that shows that the weak premise is true or should be accepted. If you have two weak premises in your main argument, you will need two subsidiary arguments. How long this section should be depends a lot on your issue and your argument. Use your best judgment in determining what you need to do to convince your reader of the premise(s).
4. Present at least one challenge to your main argument or supporting argument(s). Put yourself in the shoes of someone who disagrees with you. What would he or she say about your argument? The challenge should not be a counterargument but a challenge to the premises, presuppositions, or implications. Try to make it as convincing as possible. (If you can’t come up with a decent criticism, then you have likely chosen a bad topic.) Respond to that challenge.
Do not simply reproduce arguments found in the course text. Your argument should be presented in fluid prose.
Part 2: Short Argument Paper 2
The second part of the assignment is exactly the same as the first, except that you must now argue the opposite position on whichever topic you chose for the first paper. For example, if in the first paper you argued that the war in Iraq is morally justified, you must now argue that it is morally unjustified. Imagine that there are two different people writing the papers. One thinks x and the other thinks not-x. Think about how or why reasonable people might disagree about the topic. If, in your first paper, you argued for a view you agree with, then the second paper might be a bit more difficult. Try your best to make a convincing case for the view with which you disagree.
Make sure that the thesis of your second paper really opposes the thesis of your first paper. For example, if in your first paper you argued that abortion is morally permissible in cases of rape or incest, then in your second paper, you must argue that abortion is not morally permissible in cases of rape or incest (or that abortion is not morally permissible in any case). Note that the second paper would not really oppose the first if you argued in the second that abortion is not morally permissible in some other circumstances that do not involve rape or incest.
Part 3: Argument Essay
For this part of the assignment, write a four- to five-page paper (single spaced) on the same topic as you chose for the short argument papers. Choose one side and write a paper in which you develop the best argument you can showing that the view you are defending is correct and that the opposing view is incorrect.
Here’s what you must do:
1. Write a brief introduction to the topic. Explain what the ethical issue is and what you are going to do in the paper. Define terms when necessary.
2. Present at least one argument for your view (using your instructor’s comments from your first two papers).
3. Justify the most controversial premise(s) of your main argument (again, making use of your instructor’s comments from your earlier papers).
4. Present an objection to your argument. (Again, your earlier papers might be of use here.)
5. Respond to the objection. Try to convince your reader that the objection fails.
6. Present at least one argument for an opposing view.
7. Present a justification for the most controversial premise(s) of your opponent’s argument.
8. Raise an objection to your opponent’s argument. Try to show conclusively that your opponent’s argument is unsound.
9. Show why the arguments for your position outweigh the considerations for the opposing position.
10. Provide a conclusion for the paper.