PHIL 207/POL S 207/VALUES 207:  Paper Topic #1 (5-6 Pages).

Due in Canvas by midnight on Wednesday Feb. 5.


            This paper topic comes in two versions, one for males and one for females, just because the occupations involved are typically limited by gender:

            Imagine that you have just arrived in a third world country that is extremely poor, but is not a country in which the government oppresses its people.  When you arrive at your hotel, you strike up a conversation with a maid (if you are female)/ bellboy (if you are male) who is your age.  S/he tells you that s/he had to drop out of school at age 8 to begin supporting her/his family.  S/he tells you that s/he does not feel that dropping out of school was a great loss, because what passed for education in her/his school was simply rote memorization.  S/he tells you that s/he was expected to marry at age 16 and now has a spouse and two children of her/his own.  S/he makes $10 per day, which is enough to support a single person, but not her/his family.  With both spouses working, they are barely able to pay all the family’s expenses.  Because s/he has been working at various jobs serving English-speaking tourists, s/he has learned to speak English fluently.  You are able to discuss a wide range of topics and during the discussion you are struck by the fact that this person is as intelligent, hard-working, and socially adept as you.  And, like you, s/he thinks about life philosophically (though, of course, s/he has never studied any of the authors we read in this course).  You become friends and exchange email addresses. 

            When you get home and open your email account, you find a message from your new friend.  After wishing you well and bringing you up to date on what is happening in her/his life, your new friend writes: 

            “Think of all the advantages you have over me.  You had the opportunity to get a good primary and secondary education and to go to the University of Washington.  I had no such opportunities.  After you graduate, you will have career opportunities that I can only dream of.  You are able to travel here to visit my country.  Never in my life will I have enough money to be able to afford to travel to your country.  This is profoundly unfair.  If you were to switch places with me today and I could go on to live your life and you could go on to live mine, I am sure that you would soon come to agree with me that these inequalities are unjust and that those who are favored with greater opportunities and resources like you have an obligation to raise the level of those who are disadvantaged like me until there are no longer such substantial differences in opportunities and resources between citizens of different nations.”

            Your assignment is to write a reply to your new friend (give her/him a name) in which you use some of the readings from this course to analyze the issues raised by her/his email message.  Your reply will be an essay of 5-6 pages (double-spaced, with standard fonts and pagination) in which you include the following three parts:  (a) In Part I, you are to refer to one or more authors we have read in this course to construct the strongest case (one or more arguments) that you can in favor of the maid/bellboy’s position that the inequalities in resources and opportunities between you and her/him are unjust and that justice requires that those with the greater opportunities and resources to take steps to reduce, if  not eliminate, those inequalities.  (b) In Part II, you are to refer to one or more authors we have discussed in this course to make the strongest case (one or more arguments) that you can against the argument in Part I.  (c) In Part III, state your own position on the issue and explain why you take it, which includes responding to the arguments you have made against your position earlier in the paper. 

            In your paper, you must explain the positions of the authors you discuss to someone (your new friend) who has no familiarity with them.  Papers will be graded according to (i) clarity of writing, (ii) accuracy in the description of the positions and arguments of others, (iii) fairness to the positions of those you disagree with; (iv) and the power of your arguments.  Remember that you will not be graded based upon what position you take, but upon how well you explain and argue for each side.