Easy philosophy essay

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Phil 102

Philosophical Essay #2

Directions: Develop an answer to one “guiding questions” below. This will be your thesis. Your task in this paper will be to defend it. Be sure to consider at least one objection to your thesis, and to respond to it. Be sure to tether your discussion to the arguments, counter-arguments, and definitions we went over in class. It’s best not to start off “freewheeling” when the ideas and arguments are this new to you. Feel free to summarize arguments from the reading that you found most persuasive. Originality isn’t that important at this stage. You can of course go beyond what we discussed, but try not to go “off board” until and unless you’ve demonstrated a firm grasp of the material from class.

  1. In “The Singer Solution to World Poverty,” Singer argues that relatively well-off people who are positioned to help alleviate various kinds of suffering are morally obligated to donate any money that they might otherwise spend on non-necessities. He uses the thought experiment of Bob and his Bugatti to support his claim. First, lay out his argument. Next, assess it. Do you agree with him? If so why, and if not, why not?
    1. Steer clear of questioning whether or not giving away all of your excess money would be the most optimific thing to do with it. The main point is that, regardless of the exact details, should you have the choice between spending your time and money on relatively frivolous pursuits or spending them on alleviating world suffering, you should always do the latter. Is this true? Why or why not?
    2. Feel free to use Narveson’s material as part of your response, but you need not.
  2. Is it morally wrong to eat meat that is obtained via factory farming? If so, why, and if not, why not?
    1. Be sure to touch on Norcross’s main thought experiment involving puppy torture (lovely, I know). If you disagree, explain where you think it goes wrong. Keep in mind that he fields several objections and tries to respond to them.
    2. Also be sure to say something about the moral status of animals as compared to the moral status of human beings. Feel free to use Frey’s piece on this question.
    3. Be sure to focus on whether eating meat from factory farms is ethical, not whether factory farming itself is ethical. Those are importantly different.
  3. Is there a (negative) moral right to own a gun? If so, why, and if not, why not? Is this right fundamental, derivative, or both? If derivative, what is it derivative on (be sure to explain how McMahan and Huemer differ on this point). If there is a right, is it overridden by the negative social consequences of widespread gun ownership? If so, why, and if not, why not?
    1. You should interact with both McMahan’s piece and Huemer’s piece
  4. Is Preferential Hiring and Admissions an ethically defensible practice? If so, why, and if not, why not?
    1. Be sure to distinguish between consequence-based defenses and objections and non-consequentialist defenses and objections
    2. Be sure to say something about equality of opportunity, both what you think it means, and whether equalizing opportunity (as you define it) is a good justification for PHA.

Some tips for writing a good philosophy essay:

  1. State your thesis early and clearly. You don’t want to keep people guessing about your intentions in a philosopher paper.
  2. Feel free to use ‘I’ and other personal pronouns. These are your ideas; you are encouraged to take ownership of them and to own the fact that this is your perspective.
  3. Provide reasons for the reader to believe your thesis. Go beyond mere assertions.
  4. Argue progressively. Don’t make big leaps. Introduce each assumption you need one by one, and defend each step you take.
  5. Avoid repetition. It’s just bad writing, and repeating the same point doesn’t increase the persuasiveness of your essay.


  • 2-3 pages
  • 1-inch margins
  • Times New Roman
  • Double-spaced
  • No funny business
  • Cite ideas that are not your own (when in doubt, CITE), even if you paraphrase them.
    • No preference on the format; it should just be clear where it came from

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