Applied ethics Length: 1,000 words Task This task concerns Thomson’s defence of abortion. It refers to the views and arguments that she discusses, and the views and arguments in the Study Guide discussion of Thomson’s case. Having studied those discussions, you are to write an essay on either (1) or (2), below (but not on both): 1. Critically discuss Thomson’s case for saying that when the pregnancy does not endanger the mother’s life an abortion may not be unjust. or 2. Critically discuss Thomson’s case for saying that when the pregnancy does not endanger the mother’s life an abortion may not be indecent. Further explanation of this task: You need to provide a satisfactory discussion of the topic you select (either (1) or (2) above). In order to do this you will need to understand the whole of Thomson’s article and the whole of the critical discussion of it in the Study Guide. But the question is not about the whole of Thomson’s case. You will need to identify those particular portions of Thomson’s case which are relevant to the particular topic you select, and then critically examine those portions. You will be discussing whether the relevant arguments in Thomson’s article are good or bad. As was the case for Assessment Item 1, you will need to show that you have mastered the relevant Study Guide exercises, and you will need to take care to observe the difficult word limit. Rationale The essay allows you to display your grasp of the philosophical discussion of the relevant topic. It requires you to show that you understand this discussion, and that you can critically assess it. (Note that this task is directed towards all three of the learning outcomes for this subject – i.e. it allows you to demonstrate that you grasp the basic philosophical techniques of analysis and argument that you are learning, that you have a basic understanding of the ethical theories being discussed, and that you can apply those skills and understanding in the discussion of the particular moral problems discussed.) Marking criteria This task (like the task for Assessment Item 1) involves a number of distinct elements. They include the following: (1) You need to identify the relevant argument that Thomson seeks to provide. (2) You need to critically evaluate whether Thomson’s actual argument succeeds in doing what she needs it to do. (3) You need to present your essay in a well organised discussion written in good clear English. Presentation It is perfectly acceptable to write in the first person. This is often the most sensible way to take your reader through a philosophical discussion. Your essay should be in word-processed form. In preparing the essay you should: a) number each page; b) leave a margin of at least three centimetres; c) use double spacing between the lines of your text; d) only use quotations that are relevant to a point; a short essay should include few, if any, lengthy quotations; e) indent quotations that involve more than one sentence; f) underline or italicise titles of books; g) enclose titles of articles (or short stories or short poems) in quotations marks; h) not enclose indented quotations in quotation marks; i) not include quotations when estimating essay length. All sources consulted in the preparation of an essay should be cited. (See under Referencing, below, and ensure that you have understood University policies on plagiarism and on academic conduct, referred to elsewhere in this Subject Outline.) Make sure that you keep a copy of the essay for yourself. Referencing For the essays in this subject, you don’t need to use or refer to anything other than the relevant portions of the study materials. I need to see that you have mastered those materials. (You are allowed to make reference to other sources, but you don’t need to, and you certainly shouldn’t do so unless it’s relevant to your examination of the discussion you have selected from the study materials – as prescribed by the instructions.) You may not need to use any formal references at all in your essay. (In Philosophy, we certainly don’t apply the neurotic requirement that you provide six or so references.) You will only need to use a reference if there’s something you quote, or some place where you need to show your reader precisely where the source of what you’re writing is – that is to say, where it is in Hursthouse’s text, for instance – and you won’t need to do this if you’re simply referring to Hursthouse’s discussion in a way that makes it easy for the reader to check that you’re referring to her discussion accurately. If you’re deriving material from the Study Guide (as I certainly hope you’ll be doing) then you don’t need to refer to it. But it’s all right to do so if you wish. If you do need to use references, then you may do so in any proper style, including the APA style. But whatever style of referencing you use, you should use it accurately and consistently. But having said that you’re permitted to use any style of referencing, let me tell you that I prefer that you don’t use the APA style (which requires you to litter your text with square brackets). I prefer that you use numbers in your text, and notes with those numbers at the end of the text (endnotes) or at the foot of the text (footnotes). The Subject Outline contains a link, below, to further notes on Referencing, which can help you to see how you can set out your references. The performance of the task will be graded according to the following marking scheme: HD High Distinction (85-100%) Each of the elements 1, 2 and 3 (above) has been performed outstandingly well. You have thoroughly mastered the relevant discussion in the study materials, distinguishing it very clearly from what is not relevant to this particular discussion. And you have presented it very clearly yourself, demonstrating that you are thinking about it with some sophisticated critical independence. DI Distinction (75-84%) Overall the task has been performed very well, but one or more of elements 1, 2 and 3 has not been performed outstandingly well. You display a good, solid grasp of the relevant discussion, and the ability to think about it with some real critical independence. But, for example, though you have mastered the statement and critical examination of the argument, your writing could be improved. Or, though your essay is beautifully written, your critical evaluation could be extended, or refined, or polished further. And so on. CR Credit (65-74%) Overall the task has been performed creditably, but one or more of elements 1, 2 and 3 could be considerably improved. You show a fairly good grasp of the relevant discussion, and a fairly good attempt to assess it with critical independence. But, for example, though the meat of your discussion is good, your writing could be considerably improved. Or, your critical evaluation of the relevant argument could be substantially extended, or refined. Or, you may have introduced irrelevant material into your discussion, or omitted some relevant material. And so on. PS Pass (50-64%) Overall the task has been performed satisfactorily, but not better than satisfactorily. You show an adequate grasp of the relevant discussion, but one or more of elements 1, 2 and 3 could be substantially improved. For example, your writing, though intelligible, needs to be considerably improved. Or your presentation or critical evaluation of the relevant argument could be substantially improved through a clearer or less confused grasp of the material, or through a clearer application of the techniques of the analysis of argument, or by being extended to include omitted points. Or you may display some substantial confusion over the distinction between relevant and irrelevant material. And so on. FL Fail (0-49%) Overall the task has been performed unsatisfactorily. One or more of elements 1, 2 and 3 has been performed so unsatisfactorily that, however well the other elements have been performed, the essay is inadequate. For example, your writing is too far below the required standard. Or though you display some understanding of the material, your essay shows serious confusions. Or you have omitted major points. And so on.

 

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