You may pick any topic that interest you
By the end of the second half of this course you have already read several serious philosophical treatments of a variety of issues that often involve international matters. For your final paper you are required to select a specific historical global conflict of some nature that has occurred within the last thirty to forty years (economic, environmental, terrorist, warfare, religious, etc.). The conflict must have occurred principally outside of the United States, and must not involve the United States directly.
The conflict is your choice, but there must be (have been) clearly identifiable parties in the conflict (i.e. DO NOT simply write an abstract or generic “for/against” paper on rain forest logging, etc. – you need to identify the actual parties in the struggle). To clearly grasp the interests of these real historical parties, you must research the conflict thoroughly to understand the people involved, their competing values, interests, and moral claims. Consider some of the following conflicts (you are not bound to select from this list, it is given merely to offer you some ideas):
•East Timor genocide under Indonesian occupation (1975 – 1999)
•Tibetan occupation by China (1959 – present)
•Bosnia and Herzegovina (1992-1995)
•Darfur, Sudan (2003 – present)
•Provisional Irish Republican Army and British rule (pre-2008)
•The Israeli–< em>Palestinian conflict (note exception to time frame, stay within the 20th century to present)
•Amazon rain forest destruction
•AIDS in Africa and European pharmaceutical companies
For this paper you are imagine that you are the U.S. United Nations delegate assigned to arbitrate a specific aspect of the dispute in the conflict. You must first introduce yourself to each side by writing a report of how you see the nature of the moral dimensions of the conflict. Neither side trusts you. To succeed in your role you must grasp the moral issues at stake in the conflict, you must be able to define them clearly and understand the reasons why the different sides might disagree on the issues. Moreover, you must be able to help each side understand more clearly the moral claims the opposing side makes as well as why they feel these are so important. This is a task of mutual understanding (not finger-pointing, nor excuse-making). Your goal: undestand the moral stance(s) on each side.
Special Note on Your Goal: Do not mistake understanding for “giving your opinion on how to proceed” or “what to do next.” There should be no mention of:
•Solutions to the problem(s)
•Resolutions to the conflict
•Prescriptive measures to move forward
NONE of these things should appear in your paper, since you are not at the stage of offering these. In this paper, you are merely at the stage of listening to each side and trying to understand them. A Life lesson: You do not understand someone else by telling them what you think they should do. You understand them by listening as well as you can with every intention and means at your disposal of trying to grasp their meaning.
In order to present your case to both sides, you MUST do two things.
•First, you must demonstrate that you are well informed as to the facts of the situation and are capable of zeroing in on specific issues (and a small number of issues is easier to address)
•Second, you must be sure to explain and use ethical resources that are not obviously biased. That is, you must use two or more of the selected readings for this course in order to make your case to each side
◦You must use a reading from the first half of the course (the meta-theory, ex: Kant, Consequentialism, etc.), and…
◦You must use at least one reading from the second half of the course (the applied ethics, ex: Rawls “Theory of Justice,” etc.)
The goal of your report (your paper) is to convince both sides that you are a fair judge, that you can fully grasp the strengths and weaknesses on both sides of the conflict, and that you are capable of remaining open to how the conflict will eventually play out. In order to pull this off:
•You CANNOT USE any form of ethical relativism: ◦Ethical relativism does NOT show you are a fair judge, it merely excuses you of the task of ethically evaluating different sides of a dispute
◦Your selected ethical theories must enable you to demonstrate that you understand the possibility of a genuinely defensible moral perspective for the different sides in the conflict
•You CANNOT USE any form of ethical egoism (for similar reasons listed above regarding ethical relativism)
•As with the first paper, keep in mind that this is the final paper for a course on ethical theory – so it should go without saying that your primary task is to demonstrate clearly your understanding of the ethical theories. Do so by: ◦Explaining the theories first
◦Using the framework of the theories to ground your claims
◦Not mistaking “historical research” for “philosophical explanation and application” (see special notes below)
If you initially select a conflict for which you feel you cannot make an equal account on each side, choose another conflict. Do not choose a conflict because you are “sure of what’s right and wrong” in the case. This is a sure indication that you are not being objective in your judgment of the moral complexity of the conflict.
Since any of these conflicts is likely to be extremely complex, you may find that you are able to fairly arbitrate a very specific matter in the dispute while still harboring reservations (bias) regarding the overall conflict.
For example, you may believe the IRA is generally wrong as a terrorist organization, but you think there is much to say about their claims that it is wrong to prohibit a group of people who want to be self-governing from doing so. Thus, you may demonstrate your understanding of the IRA position on this specific matter, while doing the same (for the same specific matter) for the interests and concerns of Great Britain. This is a perfectly workable project so long as you are able to focus on the specific matter that must be judged.
You are given wide latitude in terms of how you set up and define the issue you will work on. However, do not make this as a “for/against” paper for only one side (i.e. don’t write a paper for and against the IRA practices alone – you must think through Britain’s perspective as well, and this is different from simply marshaling out an “against IRA” side). If you are having difficulty narrowing your project, please contact your professor for assistance.
Also, in order to set the stage you must give a brief account of the nature of the conflict and the basic facts. These “basic facts” MUST NOT absorb more than two pages of text. The bulk of your work and effort must be dedicated to the moral dimensions of the conflict, not to facts, figures, and timelines. Failure to adhere to this two page maximum may result in an automatic 1/3 of a letter grade deduction at the discretion of the instructor.
REMINDER: Look to the general Paper Instructions for guidelines. Remember, you have a four-page minimum and each “page” means 300 words.
These guidelines will instruct you on paper format, structure, and the like.
•Topics: Write on only one of the topics given for each paper. Do not stray from the topic, and be sure to address all elements or questions in the topic (this is especially true when one of the questions asks you to explain why you hold a view).
•Citation: Be sure to fully cite sources for claims made by others. Do not plagiarize. When citing please be sure to include the author, article title, and date (if given) of any source you used from it. ◦Note that simply giving the above information at the end of your paper (such as in a Works Cited or Bibliography) is NOT sufficient for preventing plagiarism. Within the body of your paper you must indicate the original author of any ideas, concepts, and factual or interpretive claims that you did not come up with yourself. This can be accomplished easily by simply including the author’s last name and page number or date of the original source (or both) after the sentence in which the idea was presented in your paper. (Santiago, p. 203, 6.7.2009)
•Submission: To locate the link for submitting your paper through Blackboard click on the Paper Assignment link in black at the top of the page (Either Midterm Paper Assignment or Final Paper Assignment) . Please note that Blackboard only allows one submission for each assignment. After you submit in Blackboard, the assignment will be closed to you, so you only have one chance to submit your paper.
•Deadlines: Submit no later than midnight of the due date. The Blackboard system will lock out and completely remove the paper topic/submission page at that time. There are no excuses, computer problems, slow servers, etc. that will stop the Blackboard system from restricting your access after midnight of the due date. Please submit early enough to ensure that you are not caught out by such matters.
•Digital Format: Word 97-2003 document (i.e. the file should be a .doc file, not a .docx or any other file format)
•Length: 4-6 pages of complete writing–AT MINIMUM 4 FULL PAGES OF WRITING. (see Writing Tips for further elaboration)
•Font: Times New Roman, 12 point, double spaced
•Margins: Standard 1” margins (this is the default in most versions of Microsoft Word)
•Title Page (not included as part of page count): Include name, course, title for the paper (if you have one), and any other identifying information you wish to include (date, semester, professor’s name, etc.)
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