Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Assignments for Wednesday

These assignments were originally given for Monday. But they are being moved to being due Wednesday. 

For Wednesday 9/18, two assignments are due:

Assignment 1. 
We will begin discussing EMP Ch. 2 on moral or cultural relativism and various related moral issues. Please write a short paper on the topic of the moral theory known as moral or cultural relativism. Do not read anything else on these topics besides the Rachels EMP and the paragraphs on the theory in RTD. Please write a brief explanatory essay that follows the guidance suggested below and answers these questions:
1. What is the moral theory known as moral or cultural relativism?
2. What arguments does Rachels discuss for the conclusion that the moral theory known as moral or cultural relativism is false? Explain those arguments.
3. What arguments does Rachels discuss for the conclusion that the moral theory known as moral or cultural relativism is true? Explain those arguments.
4. Based on your understanding of what moral or cultural relativism is, and the arguments for the conclusion that the theory is true and the arguments that the theory is false, what do you believe about the theory? Do you think it's true, or that it's false? Explain.

Sample Chapters

Chapter 2: The Challenge of Cultural Relativism (519.0K)
Chapter 3: Subjectivism in Ethics (516.0K)

Assignment 2.
Please evaluate your first essay on a moral issue in light of these concerns below. Please write out answers to these questions after you review your essay.  
Essay Evaluation Sheet
Here are some concerns for argumentative essays. How well does your essay address them?
1.       Introduction: do you have an introduction that explains the topic(s) you will address, or the question(s) you will answer?
2.       Thesis: does your paper have a thesis, that is, a conclusion that you try to support?
3.       Arguments: does your paper give an explicit argument or arguments in support of your conclusion?
a.       Do you explicitly state your premises, and why they should be accepted?
b.      Do you explicitly explain how your premises lead to your conclusions?
4.       Do you respond to any objections or counterarguments? Do you respond to questions that readers might have about your arguments?
5.       Does your paper have a conclusion that reviews what you discussed and what you argued for?
6.       Organization: could your paper be outlined to show its structure? Is it well organized?
7.       Paragraphs: does each paragraph focus on one, and only one, topic?
8.       Writing: is your paper written in plain, ordinary English? Do you use ‘fancy’ words – words that people wouldn’t use in ordinary conversation – only if it is absolutely necessary?
9.       Are there any grammatical and spelling errors?
10.   Are your sentences short and clear? Did you look closely at each sentence to ensure it makes sense?
11.   Did you proofread?
12.   Did you get someone else to read your paper and give you helpful feedback for revision?
13.   Did you revise your paper?
This is available here:

To ensure that your paper is formatted properly, you should use the paper template here:

We will likely not get to the African ethics readings until Monday; please read those and be prepared to discuss them:

  • Metz, T. (2007), Toward an African Moral Theory. Journal of Political Philosophy, 15: 321–341. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9760.2007.00280.x 
  • Gyekye, Kwame, "African Ethics", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2011 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL =