Final Position Paper Guidelines
(4-6 pages. Due Wed. May 15, 5pm)
The purpose of the position paper is for you to develop an argument,
either in favor of or against an issue. It is not primarily
a research paper, nor is it merely a survey of different positions.
Rather, it is an essay which clearly defends a certain position, by arguing
against your opponent’s position.
1. Select a general topic and a general position. (E.g., affirmative
action, for or against.)
2. Within the debate, select a specific position which you plan
to defend (E.g., “In this paper, I will argue in favor of affirmative action
for college entrance.”)
3. Consider what theory or theories you will use for your position.
(State what theory or theories you will use.)
4. Consider your opponents’ positions, clarifying the theories.
Identify specific claims made by others/authors we’ve read, etc.
5. Start by stating and clarifying your own position. Identify
several (if possible) different arguments that support your position.
(These would be “reasons” why you support your position.)
6. Identify counter-arguments (“However, against my position,
some might argue that…”) and debunk them one by one, by explaining what’s
wrong with these counter-arguments.
7. It won’t do to simply list your opponents’ views and say you
disagree. You must show why you reject their claims, either by finding
faults with their arguments, or showing how their arguments won’t work,
or show other ways in which you consider them wrong, ineffective, etc.,
or explain why your position would in fact be a better one. You can
appeal to some of the arguments already mentioned in class or in the readings.
If you use any resources, you must cite the source (page number).
Criteria for Grading:
Note: The particular position you defend has no bearing whatsoever on grading.
(In other words, I don’t care what position you argue for or argue against;
in fact, it does not even need to be your personal position. What
I will look for is coherence, justification, and clarity with which you
would defend your position and make counter-arguments for your opponents.)
Clarity: organization of the overall structure of the paper
Correct use of the theories
Whether you explained your arguments (rather than just stating your opinion)
Whether you explained your opponents’ arguments (rather than stating disagreements)
Read the appendix in the textbook on how to write an ethics paper.
You can send it to me electronically. You can submit the paper early.
If you would like to select a topic we did not cover in class (but you
are personally interested, such as abortion debates), feel free to do so,
but check with me beforehand, so that I can give you some feedback on the
points you want to make.
Do include your service learning experience, as applicable.
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