The "Desire Account" in Marquis
Explain the "desire account" in Marquis, "Why Abortion is Immoral", then critically evaluate some specific aspect of that account.
The following are the guidelines:
1. 3 pages , double spaced, 1-inch margins all around, Times New Roman 12-pt font
2. 10 - 15 citations from the text
3. other adaptations if deemed necessary
The following are the Writing Guidelines in addition to the ones above. These were given by the professor as general guidelines, and in case of a conflict with the above stated 3 points, those 3 points apply.
It will be useful to begin with my adaptation of Bloom’s “Taxonomy of Cognitive Abilities”. In order of increasing cognitive sophistication:
1. Memory (recognizing/recalling a point which has been asserted);
2. Comprehension (putting a point into your own words);
3. Application (bringing a point to bear on a situation not yet encountered);
4. Analysis (distinguishing between various points within a given context);
5. Synthesis (bringing points from different given contexts together); and
6. Evaluation (assessing a point in terms of a given standard).
The one he doesn’t really get to is the ultimate criterion of knowledge: being able to teach someone else, so that they can teach someone else, etc. This is sometimes referred to as the “teaching response”.
Anyway, philosophy consciously aims for the sixth of Bloom’s cognitive competencies. The relevant standard is reasonableness, given all relevant considerations. (It should not be too difficult to see how the previous five are implied by it.) Although minutiae may often be very interesting in their own right, for our present purposes it is the main points that count. It will help, particularly in terms of the final examination, to think about how the main points considered along the way are related to one another, e.g. Virtue Ethics, on one hand, with one of the options in the case of Euthanasia, on the other. How consistent is the former with the latter, for instance? completely? somewhat? not at all? No matter what your textually-based (not professor-based) decision is, be sure to indicate why you currently judge the matter as you do—no need for (or expectation that) any judgement you make now is one you are obliged to keep for the rest of your life. Philosophy is not about conformity but about independent exploration and judgement.
That independence extends also to me as your instructor: you will do better, in terms of performance, if you deal critically with the relevant texts than if you simply agree with me because you think that is what I want to see. I honestly couldn’t care less whether or not you agree with me, and I mean that in the nicest possible way; in fact I stand to learn something only if you disagree with me, and I’m interested in learning things. What really matters to me, as hard as this may be for you to believe given the rest of your experience at university, is how well you are able to argue something or other, whatever it is that you are interested in tackling at this time.
That’s a crucial part of the enormous liberation inherent in philosophical studies. There is nothing more that I require than that you deal responsibly with the texts relevant to the question you select and that you be logical in your response to it; for the rest, it really is entirely open. I know that this scares people who want to know what the right answers are, but others find it quite refreshing. They have, as I have come to think of it, “learned to hover”.
When it comes to writing the essays (one per midterm, two for the final), I advise you to devote about 60% of your available time (you can do the math) toward answering from memory the question(s) you have selected to write on. You will get the questions ahead of time, so you can prepare, but you will not have access to your class notes or texts; you will also notice that the essay questions will ask you to formulate your own opinion regarding something or other rather than tell me what I said during lecture X on topic Y.
You may find it helpful to do a few dry runs to see how much you can reasonably accomplish in the time that will be available to you; doing so will also help you to remember your answers. Since your response will need to make proper reference to the primary textual material (more on this during class), you will need to paraphrase at least three (but probably no more than five, unless you can do more) of the most important ideas relevant to the question pose!
Use the parenthetical in-text style for such references: for instance, if you decide to write concerning a question on Frankena, you would indicate his idea in your own words and follow this paraphrase by a page reference in parentheses—e.g. “[your paraphrase of Frankena’s idea] (4)”—if the idea you wish to cite is on the fourth page of our course text.
I also advise you to spend no more than half of your available space (within this 60% overall allotment) describing the author’s position regarding the question posed, and no less than half your available space assessing that position critically. No matter what the question you choose to write on is, note that the evaluative component is always assumed in philosophy, whether or not it is explicitly stated. Thus, if a question such as “Why does Socrates refuse to leave prison in the Crito?” is posed, you will be expected to answer, first, the factual question (the reasons Socrates actually gives), but then, second, whether or not you think those reasons are good ones. However you think of “good” in this context, be prepared to defend your answer (e.g. ‘Socrates’ reasons are good ones because “good” means X and Socrates’ answers are all consistent with X’; if you are especially philosophically inclined you will have given some thought as to why “good” should mean X rather than!
Given these general parameters, here’s what we’re looking for your written work:
1. Answer the question you have selected. Self explanatory.
2. Cite properly all of the important relevant textual evidence. It will be sufficient to cite by section sub-heading (if provided), but if not then by page number(s).
3. Interpret that evidence reasonably. This means that your summary and explanation of the relevant textual evidence will be accepted by a generally educated audience.
4. Use official English throughout, i.e. spelling and grammar. This makes more of a difference than you might think; take the time to make yourself clearly understood. As a general rule, the more times a reader has to stop and wonder what you mean, the more frustrated the reader gets.
5. Present your train of thought to the reader in a logical manner. This means that your overall presentation, as well as its details, does not leave a reader wondering how you proceed from one point to the next one. Think about how to include logical ‘signposts’ from one paragraph to the next, remembering that each paragraph make a single logical point.
6. Express yourself in an engaging manner. This means that, at a minimum, you are concise rather than wordy in your composition skills. Rhetorical questions should be used sparingly—and preferably not at all. Remember that you are engaged in making an argument of your own, ultimately, and using your author(s) as a foil to help you get started.
7. Develop exactly one an original insight into the question posed. This means that your analysis and evaluation will be substantial rather than superficial; that you have discovered something worth thinking about regarding the question posed (or the author’s position) which is new, as far as you are concerned, from which it follows that you will clearly and precisely explain in which way(s) it is new. It will help you to consider a plausible objection to your insight, and offer a reasonable response to it.