PHIL 410A:  TERM PAPER (10-15 Pages)

 

               TOPIC.  A CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO A PROTECTED SPHERE OF AUTONOMY.  The Supreme Court has asked our class to draft a new constitutional right of autonomous adults to a protected sphere of autonomy, free of legal paternalism.  To do this, each class member will select a controversial example of legal paternalism to discuss in detail.  We will discuss topics in class.  IF YOU CHOOSE A DIFFERENT TOPIC FROM THOSE WE DISCUSS IN CLASS, YOU MUST GET APPROVAL FROM ME.  NOTE THAT ABORTION IS NOT AN ISSUE OF PATERNALISM.  IT IS NOT AN ACCEPTABLE TOPIC.  You should choose an issue that would generate disagreement between two or more of the following eight authors we have read:  Thomson, Mill, Rawls, Feinberg, Scanlon, Dworkin, Schelling, and Talbott.  The term paper will be written in three stages:

 

               Part I Introduction (10 Points).  DUE BY MIDNIGHT ON MONDAY NOV. 19. Write an introduction to your paper in which you explain the issue you have selected and summarize what your recommendation to the Supreme Court will be.  To do this, you should do some research on your topic to find out relevant information about it.  You should have at least one citation from a reading outside the course readings.  (This is a minimum.  To do a good job on the term paper, you will almost surely need more than one outside citation on the issue you have chosen.)  POST YOUR INTRODUCTION ON THE PHIL 410 GOPOST SITE.  READ ALL THE POSTINGS AND VOTE BY EMAIL FOR THE BEST INTRODUCTION BY NOON ON TUESDAY NOV. 20. 

 

               Part II Exposition (40 Points).  Explain the issue you have selected.    (b) Then consider what each of the eight authors listed above would say about your issue.  You must choose an issue on which they would not all agree, unless you plan to disagree with all of them.  If you are uncertain what an author would say about your issue, explain why.  (Note that you are not required to discuss all eight authors in the term paper itself.  IF THE AUTHOR SPECIFICALLY DISCUSSES YOUR ISSUE, YOU MUST REFERENCE WHAT S/HE SAYS ABOUT IT.  This is an exercise that will make sure that you recognize which three (or more) authors are the best ones for you to discuss in your term paper.)  (Also note, it is not possible to satisfactorily explain Talbott's MRJS without using at least one branching diagram.)  Part II should be submitted to the electronic drop box in Word, RFT, or HTML format BY MIDNIGHT ON TUESDAY NOV. 27.  The filename should begin with your last name.

               CAUTION:  If you find that you are in complete agreement with one of our authors on the issue in question and you have nothing of your own to add to what that author says, then you need to choose another issue.  You should choose an issue on which you have something interesting of your own to say.

 

               Part III Complete Draft (20 Points).  You should submit a complete draft of your term paper to the PHIL 410 electronic dropbox in Word, RFT, or HTML format by MIDNIGHT ON TUESDAY DEC. 4.    The filename should begin with your last name.  Your draft should contain the parts (a)-(e) below.  However, it will not really be a paper if it reads like an exam answer to those questions.  Those questions simply provide the framework for a paper that is truly your own.  Be creative. 

               (a) Same as Part I above.

               (b) In Part II, you discussed all eight authors.  In your term paper you are not required to discuss all eight authors.  From the eight, you, you should select the authors whose views are most relevant to the issue you have selected (at least three of them, more if you wish) and discuss what they would say about your issue.  You must choose authors who would not all agree on the issue, unless you will disagree with all of them. 

               (c) Explain your position by relating it to the positions of the authors you discuss in part (b).  For any of them with whom you disagree (there must be at least one), explain why you disagree with them and why you favor your position over theirs. 

               (d) Consider any other objections to your view that might be of concern to the Supreme Court.

               (e) Make sure your paper ends with a recommendation to the Supreme Court on the issue you have chosen. 

               TO RECEIVE FULL CREDIT FOR THE DRAFT, YOU MUST BE IN CLASS ON TUESDAY DEC. 4 TO DISCUSS IT.

 

               Part IV Final Version (200 Points).  After you have received my comments on Part III, you will be ready to prepare the final version of your term paper.  It should contain the same parts (a)-(e) as your draft.  You should submit the final version of your term paper to the PHIL 410 electronic dropbox  by MIDNIGHT ON WEDNESDAY DEC. 12.  The filename should begin with your last name.  Reasonable extensions of time will be granted.  If you need an extension, request it in advance.  Send me an email message with your reasons for the extension and a proposed new deadline.