PHL 323 - Philosophy Paper

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final paper general information

General requirements

All final paper topics must fulfill three requirements:

First, have an ethical dimension. That is: the topic directly involves questions of ethical philosophy.

Second, have a scientific dimension. Questions of scientific knowledge and/or its direct application must be involved in the topic.

Third, all final paper topics must be approved by the instructor.

Segments

Proposal

4 points

Due 11 July

Update

6 points

Due 17 July

Draft

15 points

Due 27 July

Final paper

400 points

Due 3 August

Total

425 points

 

If you fail to turn in any part of the final paper, you will receive an F in the course. 

Segment information

The proposal is a brief statement of what you would like to write your final paper on and an example of a philosophical source you expect to use for the paper. I will then review it and, if approved, make any necessary recommendations.

The update will involve a statement of what research you have done, an annotated bibliography of sources you have found, and a statement about the next stage of your research.

The draft is a working version of your final paper where you will receive feedback on what you have written for the final version.

The Final involves completing the paper and revising based on my comments on the draft.

More information on each segment will be made available as due dates get closer.

Possible topics

The following list should be helpful in starting to think about possible topics.

Cloning (human [since animal cloning has not received much attention], reproductive or therapeutic)

Ethical questions arising in specific sciences (like biology, chemistry, physics)

The ethical significance of reductionism in science

The ethical significance of scientific knowledge

The ethics of scientific practice/research

Evolutionary ethics and other ways to connect science and ethics

Genetically engineering humans

Genetic testing/screening

The normalization of society

Psychopharmacology

The role of politics in science

The role of science in politics

Science and education

Scientific progress and ethics

Scientific realism (and other metaphysical matters) and ethics

Social sciences (uses in society, methodologies, treatment of research objects/subjects, etc.)

Synthetic biology

Transhumanism

Truth as an ethical concept

Prohibited topics

The following topics are prohibited:

Abortion (note: stem cell research is permissible since the issues there go beyond abortion)

Animal testing (and other issues involving animals, including genetic modification and cloning of animals)

Environmental issues (including energy)

General questions of medical ethics (like informed consent, euthanasia, human testing [the last just because the literature on this doesn’t fit the requirements for the paper well])

Organ transplantation

Weapons

Comment: given the philosophical literature out there on these topics, it is very difficult to get them to fit with requirements of the paper. For this reason, they are prohibited.

Anything that is just on technology. Scientific knowledge must be playing a prominent role in whatever topic you work on.

For example: biotechnologies and nanotechnologies have a healthy bit of science directly in them. Computers tend not to. So, biotechnology and nanotechnology are acceptable, computing technology is not. If you are unsure where a topic you’d like to write on falls, contact me before submitting the proposal and I can let you if it works.

If you are unsure where a topic you’d like to write on falls, contact me before submitting the proposal and I can let you if it works.

Comments

The big thing is that the topic must involve science and ethics as a central part of the issue.

If you are interested in something not here, send me an e-mail and ask if it fits.

Most of these topics are quite broad. Focus on 1 particular part of the issue to keep things manageable.

For example: if you are looking at a scientific development (genetic engineering), narrow things down to one sort of engineering.

highly recommend that you let the philosophical literature on the topic drive how it is that you focus the project.

So, start with the general idea you are interested in, then look at the philosophical literature that deals with the general idea. Coming out of what you find, narrow down the scope of your topic to what something found within the philosophical literature.

Also keep in mind that what you will write on for the final paper is how philosophers (in most cases: ethicists) address these topics and then forming your own position based on their work.

Grading

Your proposal will be approved if it meets the general requirements mentioned above.

You will receive full credit for your proposal if the proposal is approved and you include a minimum of 1 philosophical source (both a bibliographic reference and a brief summary [3+ sentence minimum] of it);

You will receive half credit for your proposal if the proposal is approved, but you fail to include an acceptable philosophical source (either you do not include a source and summary, the bibliographic information is incomplete or the source is unacceptable).

If your proposal is not approved initially, you will need to submit a new proposal (when the new proposal due will be stated in my comments on the initial proposal). If the new proposal is submitted by this due date, then it will receive full credit. No grade will be entered for the assignment until your topic approved.

Philosophical references

About the references:

Your sources for all segments of the final paper project must be drawn from academic philosophy sources like journals, anthologies, and books.

Importantno encyclopedia entries will not count towards your references. You need to use original research, rather than summaries of others’ work. For the same reason, textbooks or dictionaries also will not count towards your references.

Furthermore, writings in science journals and popular sources (magazines, newspapers, etc.) will not count towards your references, or websites about philosophy (unless you are accessing a philosophy article from a philosophy journal’s website).

If you are working from journals and if the journal has “philosophy” or “ethics” in the title or subtitle, that is generally a good sign that it is philosophy (there are exceptions to this like The Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. This is an excellent science journal). If you have questions, let me know.

You need to rely on well-developed philosophical arguments. For this reason, all sources must be a minimum of 5 print pages long. References shorter than this will not count towards your total.

To ensure that you have a diversity of sources, no more than 1 source can from any particular anthology or issue of a journal (having sources from different issues of the same journal is acceptable).

Lastly, for the proposal, no readings from the course will count towards your total references.

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