Is it is possible for bad people to do good things? Or, alternatively, is it possible for good people to do bad things? For your first essay, clearly state, and then defend, either an affirmative or negative answer to one of those questions. In thinking about your thesis, you might consider what it means to be a good or bad person, and in addition, what it means to do a good or bad thing; conversely, is being good merely a case of acting good. Your answer should rely heavily on at least three of the theorists that we’ve read so far in the course, including, for example:
- The Kantian Categorical Imperative
- Mill’s Utilitarianism
- Aristotle’s Virtue Ethics
A short introductory paragraph, with a clear thesis statement (e.g., I shall argue that Rawls’ argument is influenced by … because …). Your thesis should almost always be the last sentence of your introductory paragraph.
A short, charitable reconstruction of the argument as presented by the philosopher whose position you rely on (you may, but need not, use standard premise / conclusion form).
An brief explanation, in your own words, of the position that you’re describing (such as the Categorical Imperative, Justice as Fairness, etc.)
An original argument, in which you make the case that answers the question, based on the philosophical position under investigation.
A suitable concluding paragraph.
Make reference to, and discuss meaningfully, at least three of the philosophers that we’ve read so far in the course.
At least two sources, and zero internet sources. If a source is not printed in a physical book or journal form (even if it is also available on the internet) it is not a suitable source, and should not be referenced in your essay. Essays that rely on the internet to make their central argument, rather than high quality class materials, will not receive a grade higher than a D. (Read that sentence again to be sure you understand it).
No direct quotations. It is never necessary to directly quote any author. When it is important to rely on someone else’s ideas, simply explain the position which he/she is defending. It is, however, necessary to cite all authors whose ideas you reference. Thus, if you begin a sentence with, e.g., “According to Plato…”, you should end that sentence with a citation. Essays that include “direct quotations” will not receive a grade higher than a D. (Read that sentence again, too, to be sure you understand it).
A clear and complete bibliography