GMOR 150 GAU Contemporary Moral Issues
Professor: Ian Gerrie
Minor Essay Assignment
Write a 1000-word essay (about 3-pages if typed and double-spaced in
Times New Roman 12 pt font) in answer to ONE of the following questions:
1) Can a person be called just or generous if they dont enjoy acting justly
or generously? Explain how Aristotle would respond to this question
making reference to his views about happiness and the moral virtues.
Do you agree with his account? Defend your answer.
1) It is often said that you can achieve anything you set your mind to.
Explain how Epictetus would view this statement, making particular
reference to his advice to behave in life as you would at a banquet. Do
you agree with his account? Defend your answer.
2) What would Aristotle or Epictetus say is the appropriate response to a
situation in which a robber puts a gun to your back and demands that you
hand over your money and other valuables? If you are writing on
Aristotle, explain making reference to his views concerning the moral
virtues. If you are writing on Epictetus, explain making reference to his
advice to keep your moral purpose in harmony with nature. Do you
agree with the account of the philosopher you are addressing? Defend
** Be sure to read the Essay Writing Checklist at the end of this document
for the standards associated with grading your essay.
** Your paper will be checked for plagiarism using the SafeAssign feature
The paper is due on Tues, Oct 19th at 11:59 p.m. A penalty will be
assessed at 5% per day for late submissions up to one week, after which
time they will not be accepted.
Please note: You must make arrangements in advance of the assignments
due date to negotiate any extensions due to illness, or other circumstances
that may prevent you from completing it on time.
Essay Writing Checklist
All the essay topics require both summary and evaluation. When
summarizing a philosophers argument, focus on conveying the logical
connections between the points you raise in a clear, step by step manner.
Avoid writing lists of what philosophers say or believe, and instead think
about how they are trying to convince you of something. In other words, try
to get at the reasoning behind the claims they advance. Your paper should
be 2/3 argument summary and 1/3 evaluation.
You need to demonstrate that you worked with the course reading as your
primary source in writing your paper. The learning materials I have posted
are intended to help guide you through the assigned readings they are not a
substitute for them. Do not use any secondary sources, like summaries of
the material that you find on the internet, as resources for the summary
section of your essay. I am interested in knowing what you learned from our
class, not what you learned from the internet.
Substituting particular words or phrases with different ones is not what it
means to summarize an argument. Do not ever use online tools or other
programs that re-write passages of text for you. You cannot expect a
passing grade if this is your approach to summarizing an argument.
Use your own words to explain philosophical arguments whenever
possible; I cant assess your understanding of the material if you are quoting
the text too much.
You are welcome to discuss your assignment with anyone you choose but
do not share copies of your written work with classmates. I have seen
papers that end up looking very similar to one another and SafeAssign
reports this. You do not want to be accused of academic misconduct or to
have to share a single mark with someone else.
Argument evaluation may be positive or negative in other words, you
may agree or disagree with a philosophers conclusion. But what is
important to remember is that you are not evaluating that conclusion in
isolation from the reasons that back it up. An effective evaluation is one that
addresses a specific premise, assumption, implication, or gap in the
philosophers reasoning that would lead one to reconsider the conclusion
s/he has drawn. (And yes, feel free to use I when presenting your
Keep in mind that evaluation is more than a commentary on how the work
affected you. Attributing praise like everything was well-argued, or
Aristotle is brilliant, is not very informative. After all, you could just as
easily state the opposite in each case.
Follow the lead of what you have learned in your writing classes. MLA is
the most common documentation style for philosophy papers, but APA is
fine if you prefer it.
Be sure to have a short, general introduction that contains a thesis a
concise statement of what will be your evaluation of the philosophers
Dont commit to dividing your paper into a set number of paragraphs.
Exploring more than one topic in a paragraph can get confusing, so try to
think about the natural breaks in the themes you address and start new
paragraphs accordingly. Not every paper you write in your life will fit into
the standard, 5-paragraph essay format you learned in high school.
It can be helpful to read your paper back to yourself from the perspective
of someone who doesnt know the material at all. Ask yourself: would such
a person understand what Im talking about, despite not being familiar with
the subject matter? Sometimes things might make perfect sense in your own
mind (especially late at night!), but if something you have written is not
clear from an outside perspective, then clarification may be needeD
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