Thursday, March 31, 2011

In light of yesterday's discussion concerning reading and responsibility, I think it would be wise to have summaries of Warren and Marquis on abortion due Monday. However, if you would like to turn them in Wednesday, that would be fine as well, given the lateness of this written assignment.

Friday, however, we will be discussing Marquis's article. 


Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Wed: Warren on abortion, in RTD
Friday: Marquis on abortion, in RTD
Monday: Thompson on abortion, in RTD

Monday your paper is due. No late papers.
Friday, March 25, Morehouse, Sale Hall Rm. 105, 2 PM sharp

Vance RicksAre Online “Friends”Friends?

Can online relationships be “real” friendships? Arguments tied to concepts such as authenticity, activity, and embodiment say “no.” After discussing some of the roles that computer-based technologies play in interpersonal relationships, Professor Vance Ricks explains why he finds those arguments ultimately unpersuasive.

Vance Ricks, Associate Professor of Philosophy,
Guilford College, Greensboro, NC

Professor Vance attended Stanford University and received his Ph.D. in philosophy, writing his dissertation on the subject of friendship. He has taught at Guilford since autumn 1998.  He teaches courses on a variety of philosophical subjects, consistent with his interests:  ethics; informal logic; philosophical perspectives on sexuality; computer ethics; and philosophical  perspectives on mind and consciousness.  Vance is currently writing a manuscript on the meta-ethical views of one of his favorite philosophers, the 19th-century English author John Stuart Mill.  His next project is an article about online friendships. 
This flyer is also available here:

Saturday, March 19, 2011


Friday, I asked you to develop lists for ways people would fill in these blanks:

"Abortion is typically wrong because ___________________"


"Abortion is typically morally permissible because ___________________"

Please clearly posts your lists below in the comments and read others' lists! Thanks!

Addendum: You should have at least 5 reasons given for each conclusion.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Extra Credit

An extra credit assignment: Detailed, detailed summary of this entire (long) article: Regan, “Patterns of Resistance,” Due by Monday March 28th as well:

Writing for Monday

For Monday: detailed summary of EMP Ch. 4, DOES MORALITY DEPEND ON RELIGION? is due. 

Also: This is the page was mentioned last Friday and its contents briefly discussed:

Richard Feldman on “Simple Moral Arguments”:

I am having printer problems, so I send it to you via email for you to read. 

Paper 1

Paper Assignment 1

Due, in class, March 28th. No late papers will be accepted.
4-5 pages, double-spaced, 12 point font Times New Roman, 1" margins; numbered pages, with your name, class time and email address. 

First, read this article on how to write a philosophy paper:

Here is the assignment:

Write an argumentative philosophy paper where you present, explain and evaluate at least five arguments for the conclusion that homosexuality is wrong, i.e., morally impermissible. In this paper you must:

  • present these arguments in logically valid, premise-conclusion form; this, of course, sometimes requires adding unstated premises;
  • explain why they are logically valid (i.e., what form they are);
  • explain, for each of these arguments, whether it is sound or not; this often will require developing counterexamples to general moral principles. Other times it 

The arguments you discussion should be ones that you think are most common, most important and/or ones most philosophically interesting or challenging.

Your paper should have an introduction, culminating in a thesis that states your evaluation of these arguments ("I will argue that ______"), and a conclusion. Each argument should have its own section, i.e., paragraph or paragraphs.

Your papers should be grammatical and spelling-error free.

They are due, in class, March 28th. No late papers will be accepted.

Here are some additional tips on writing:

Strunk and White's The Elements of Style, the section III. ELEMENTARYPRINCIPLES OF COMPOSITION:

4. Some tips from me:

  • The most common comments I write on papers are these: (1) What do you mean? and (2) Why think that? The first is in response to unclear claims: write clearly. The second is in response to claims that need defense: give reasons.
  • Write in short sentences: if any longer sentence can be broken into two or more sentences, do it because it's easier to read then.
  • Each paragraph should deal with one, and only one, topic. You should be able to say, "This paragraph is about this: _____."
  • Omit all needless words and needless discussion. Your reader's time is valuable so don't waste it.
  • Make sure everything is clear. Use simple words: no need for anything nebulous.
  • Your papers should have a short introduction, culminating in a thesis, a main point, the point that your paper is supposed to defend. The most direct way of presenting this sort of thesis is this: "I will argue that _(short sentence here: 'all abortions are wrong', 'Dr. Doopy's argument against euthenasia is unsound,' etc.___."
  • Your introductory paragraph, or a paragraph immediately after it, should give the reader an overview of what you will be doing in the paper. It should briefly explain the overall structure (e.g., "First I will ___ and then I will ____. Finally I will ______.")
  • Omit anything totally obvious and uninformative (e.g., "This issue has been debated for hundreds of years."). Everyone already knows this, so don't waste time telling us what we already know.
  • Don't write, "Well, _____." No "well's".
  • Don't say, "'Mr. Bubbles feels that this is wrong." Say, hebelieves, or thinks, or (if he does) argues. His views are probably not his "feelings" or his emotional reactions.
  • Also, no ' . . . ' unless you are shortening a quote. No "trailing off" in hopes that the reader will think what you are hoping they will think.
  • Don't ask rhetorical questions. Make statements, don't ask questions. Your reader might answer your questions for you in ways you'd like. But if you do ask questions, make sure there is a question mark.
  • It's OK to use "I". People use "I" to communicate clearly, so use it.
  • "Arguments" are not people's conclusions. They are the conclusions and the reasons they give in favor of those conclusions.
  • If I ask you to raise objections to a theory, argument, claim, or whatever, it's fine to raise objections that are discussed in our readings. What's not good, however, is to raise an objection that is discussed in the readings but the author responds to the objection and shows that it's not a good objection. If you raise this same objection, but do not discuss the author's response (and respond to that response), this suggests that you didn't do the reading very closely.
  • If an author states a conclusion (or a main point) and gives reasons for it, then that author has given an argument. If an author has given an argument, do not say that the author has not given an argument: you might not have found the argument (yet), but the argument is still there! Keep looking!
  • Keep focused and don't argue for more than you can give reasons for.
  • You have succeeded in writing a paper if you can give that paper to a smart and critical someone who is not familiar with your topic and this person will understand the views and arguments you are discussing, as well as whatever criticisms you raise. You can do an empirical test to determine whether you are writing well, and it's basically just to see if others understand your writing! If not, you need to keep working at it.
  • Finally, good writing, like many things, takes a lot of time. If you don't take the time to work at it, you probably won't do very well and you probably won't improve. I recommend writing something about double the length needed and then editing down and re-organizing and re-writing to remove the needless words, irrelevant distractions, and -- most importantly -- improve your statement of whatever argument you are trying to develop.