Topic: Utilitarianism as a Normative Moral Theory Write an essay in which you do all of the following: a. Introduce the topic, explaining the theory of utilitarianism and what it is a theory of. (Make sure you understand the difference between a theory of well-being and a normative ethical theory if you choose this topic, and talk about the relevant one.) Indicate in your introduction whether you agree with this theory or not. b. Present a criticism of the theory. Whether or not you ultimately agree with the theory, try to present the criticism as convincingly as possible. Why might someone reasonably object to the theory? Be sure to explain why the criticism seems reasonable. c. Consider whether the theory can be defended against the criticism. In other words, imagine how someone who believes the theory (whether or not you do) would respond to the criticism. Present this response and explain why it might support the theory. d. Evaluate the ‘conversation.’ Do you ultimately agree with the theory, or do you side with the criticism against it? Why? Support your answer with an example. e. Conclude your essay, briefly and clearly re-stating whether or not you agree with the theory, and the most important consideration behind your decision. If you have space, you may then consider raising a related question, or a direction for further thought on the topic. (In other words, imagine how the ‘conversation’ may develop further.) General Instructions: Your essay should be 2-3 pages long, double spaced, using a standard 12 pt font and standard margins. Please do not exceed 3 pages. Doing so could result in a reduced grade. Keep your essay focused on the specific topic you have selected. Leave out any information that is not relevant to answering the question, and stay on track. Your essay should follow a single train of thought, and develop in a logical order. My specific instructions for each topic are designed to help you achieve this. Whichever topic you choose, you should all of the following: – Clearly indicate which topic you have chosen to write on. – Explain any technical terms or theories that you mention. (E.g. ‘utilitarianism,’ ‘higher pleasures,’ ‘a priori,’ ‘consequentialism,’ ‘Categorical Imperative,’ etc.) Don’t worry about boring me—I want to see that you understand what you are talking about! – Give reasons for your claims. If you claim that a theory is flawed, explain why. If you say a theory can be defended against an objection, explain how. – Use examples for illustration of some of the difficult concepts or claims that come up in your essay. (Original/made up examples are encouraged!) – Use transitional words and phrases to help your reader follow your train of thought. (E.g. ‘However,’ ‘On the other hand,’ ‘In contrast,’ ‘Furthermore,’ ‘Therefore,’ etc.) – Answer ALL of the subsidiary questions specified for the topic you have chosen. – Cite page numbers when quoting directly from a reading, and include the full reference(s) somewhere in the document. – Refer to at least one of the readings from the course.
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