Ethical Issues


  • The paper should be a minimum of 2 pages (double-spaced) and a maximum of 3 pages long (not counting the heading in these measurements). Please do NOT go beyond 3 pages (which could also affect the grade). The paper should be double-spaced, in a normal (e.g., Times New Roman) 12-point font with 1-inch margins, on all sides. Please number all pages.
  • Place your name, course number, the topic number, and my name (all single-spaced) on the top of the first page. There is no need for a title page, report cover, or anything else.
  • Grammar, punctuation, and spelling do matter. Please check them carefully.
  • No outside research is needed for this paper (but use of the textbook is encouraged). Please cite any paraphrase or quotation from our textbook, by using this notation afterward: (author, p. xx). (Don’t worry about including the name of our textbook with the citation since I know, of course, which book you’re using here.) Please use my notes only when using an idea from them that is NOT in the textbook (but no need to cite my notes in such cases). Do NOT use footnotes.
  • Keep a printed copy of your paper as well as an electronic version.
  • Important reminder: Plagiarism and other violations of academic integrity will be taken very seriously. The minimum penalty is an “F” on the assignment.
  • Arguing for your position that you take in your paper is always strengthened by also discussing and dealing with potential objections to your position.
  • NO block quotes (except rarely–quotations 4 lines or longer must be single-spaced, 10-point font).
  • No outside sources are needed (except for the textbook), but if you use any other sources, please cite any quotations or paraphrases after the first sentence (in which you use them) instead of doing so later in the paragraph after the last quotation or paraphrase in the paragraph.
  • Any use of any words in the paper (whether it be a quote, paraphrase, or an idea, etc.) that does not give proper credit to the original source is considered plagiarism. Please contact me if confused on the proper boundaries here.

As you already know, our official class approach (that moral objectivism is the correct view of Ethics, at least on the most crucial ethical issues in society—please contact me if confused.) However, people disagree on which theory is the correct approach or correct “formula” (so to speak) for obtaining the correct answer for those ethical situations.

Therefore, choose one of the ethical theories below to write about (see the list below). Please choose one in which you disagree with most (or all) of the parts of that theory and also one theory that you believe is a better alternative. Therefore, in your paper, after a very brief introduction (1-2 sentences), provide an accurate summary of the two specific views or theories that you are discussing (including the relevant founders/writers of each theory), and also including at least one strength and one weakness of each theory. (This summary will probably be in a specific paragraph for it.) Then, analyze the key claims of the first theory and argue why you disagree with certain parts of it. Be sure then to also analyze parts of the second theory (and why you see it as a better alternative) as you contrast it with the claims of the first theory.

List of Ethical Theories


Kant’s Theory

Natural Law Theory (which could include Natural Rights Theory)

Virtue Ethics

Feminist Ethics and/or Ethics of Care

Using examples that show what the theory does (or would) lead to in certain situations can be a powerful argument for not accepting a specific theory. Parts of the textbook do critique each theory, but you are not limited to using any of his ideas.

You also should apply the ethical theory (the one that you see as a better choice) to the situation below in one part of the paper.

Death penalty scenario

Jenny’s father, who used to be in the mob, is now in prison (on death row) awaiting his execution. During his time in the Mafia, he gave orders many times for people to be killed, but never carried out the killings himself. Jenny needs input on 2 burning questions: Is the death penalty right to begin with? What is the proper punishment for her father–rehab, death penalty, a long prison sentence or something else? (At the trial of her father, the prosecuting lawyer had argued that the jury should give the death penalty to her father even if such a punishment doesn’t deter other mobsters from giving such orders in the future to get rid of people.) Including interaction either with E. van den Haag’s article or H. Bedau’s article in connection with your position on this issue could enhance this part of the paper here.

Reflection Journal (separate from the paper grade): After the end of the paper, please skip a few spaces, and then please add a short paragraph (3-5 good sentences) as one entry for the journal on the effect of this assignment on your personal growth (academically and intellectually) from the assignment. What is (or will be) different in the future with you (any specific part of your life) because of the assignment and/or the topic you chose? (Adding how this part of the course is impacting you is also possible, but if you do this, please be specific.)

Two main grading criteria for the overall journal would be the student’s engagement with the reflection question(s) and the authenticity of the student regarding his or her growth here. Of course, I keep all answers confidential.

After finishing the paper (and separate journal entry), please submit the paper through the “Assignment” tab. Thank you!

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