In this paper, you will articulate, defend, and evaluate a claim.
Format: double-spaced, 12 point font, 1.25 inch margins, no specified length.
Here are some claims I would strongly encourage you to adopt (if you choose a different and your own claim it should have similar depth and breadth and should not be too narrow or too wide – and you must receive my approval by email for that):
*** The claims and counterexamples should include and demonstrate mastery of what we studied with Sandel to generate justification for the claim and the counterexamples. Do not respond to these questions just using common sense without employing Sandel’s thought. ****
1) Utilitarianism (maximization of well-being for the greatest number) is required for morality
X = Utilitarianism (maximization of well-being for the greatest number)
Y = morality
– need to use the Trolley or Mignonette or the Afghan Goatherds cases in your showing that Utilitarianism is a good theory of morality
– need to use Libertarianism or Kantianism – for the criticism of necessity
– need to use the Trolley or Mignonette or the Afghan Goatherds cases (and Libertarianism or Kantianism) – for the criticism of sufficiency
− 2) Libertarianism (respect for self-ownership) is required for morality
− X = Libertarianism (respect for self-ownership)
− Y = morality
− need to use the Trolley or Mignonette or the Afghan Goatherds or the taxes cases in your showing that Libertarianism is a good theory of morality
− need to use Utilitarianism or Kantianism – for the criticism of necessity
− need to use the Trolley or Mignonette or the Afghan Goatherds cases or the Voluntary Cannibalism case – for the criticism of sufficiency
– 3) Kantianism (respect for humanity as an end-in-itself) is required for morality
– X = Kantianism (respect for humanity as an end-in-itself)
– Y = morality
– need to use the Trolley or Mignonette or the Afghan Goatherds or lying or shopkeeper cases in your showing that Kantianism is a good theory of morality
– need to use Libertarianism or Utilitarianism – for the criticism of necessity
– need to use the Trolley or Mignonette or the Afghan Goatherds cases (and Libertarianism or Kantianism) or taxes – for the criticism of sufficiency
Choose ONE claim and use it in question 4) of the paper.
Instructions: write a 6-part (but responding to 24 questions) paper. In Part One, you introduce the topic – What is the topic? Part Two consists of you articulating a claim relevant to the topic (from the list above, readings, exam, or review questions), that you want to spend time thinking about in this assignment. In part Three, you defend that claim, or offer reasons why it makes sense. In part Four, you offer a criticism of the claim from Part Two – you offer reasons why the claim is not likely to be true. In Part Five, you evaluate your claim in light of the criticism – you state, after the consideration of the criticism, the reasons why the claim is or is not likely to be true. In Part Six, you reflect on what you have done: a conclusion about what you have learned and what you think about the topic in light of your consideration of the claim and its criticism.
Do not just sit down and write “from your head” without cracking open your books and notes. I would set apart some time during at least three days to write the paper.
IMPORTANT: There must be twenty-four labeled questions/tasks in your paper. Do not hand in a text that is not divided into sections. You will receive four points for the successful completion of each section.
START BY WRITING PARTS II, III, IV, AND V FIRST – AND THEN DO THE INTRODUCTION AND THE CONCLUSION. But the parts should be in their natural order (I-VI) in the final version that you submit. And you should consider revising your paper after you have written the introduction – you may think of something in the introduction that you have not thought of while writing the other parts and revise your paper accordingly (especially, perhaps, the conclusion).
The Paper (Do the following 24 tasks)
Part I: Introduction
1) Introduce the topic (the broader issue that has to do with a human being is – for the sake of which you are investigating the claim that you choose) and briefly discuss what it involves. What is the puzzle with regard to this topic? [For example: “The topic is that of democracy and whether democracy is damaged by requiring government issued photo IDs. It is important that democracy is preserved as much as possible – as it maximizes happiness and freedom of human beings. Democracy can roughly be defined as “one person, one vote” in electing members of the government who pass and enforce laws that best serve the population. Without democracy – if the government officials are not elected by citizens – the citizens are vulnerable and likely to be taken advantage of by the members of the government. Likewise, without democracy, it is not likely that the best candidates for membership in the government will occupy those positions, as persons would not want and would not elect (to the best of their abilities) incompetent representatives to serve their interests. Furthermore, democracy embodies an interpretation of fundamental equality of all citizens (as citizens) of a country. As of recently, it has become a heated topic as to whether there is significant fraud in voting – whether persons who should not vote are casting their votes. To fix this problem, it has been proposed that government-issued photo IDs be required to vote. The criticism of this proposal has been that it will make many members of the public incapable of voting, thus undermining democracy. This paper aims to examine whether that claim is true.”]
2) Discuss your relation to the topic. Do you have a position on the topic? Do you have a history of engaging the topic in any way? How are you affected by what happens with regard to what is thought on this topic? [For example: “I have a position on the topic insofar as I would like a solution that best serves and does not undermine democracy. I am affected by the topic insofar as I would think that the country in which I live is less just and government officials in it are more likely to be corrupt, if democracy in the country in which I live is undermined. I have been thinking about this issue for a while, as it is an ongoing topic in the news and other discussions of the current affairs. My preliminary position at this point – and it may change by the end of the paper – is that government issued IDs are a good idea, as it seems to be what will insure against voting fraud. However, I am aware of the purported criticisms of this position, which I would like to explore, that asking for government-issued IDs at voting is nothing short of voter suppression and racism – as this regulation would seem to disproportionately turn away voters who are people of color and women. In other words, there is an accusation that the Voter Photo ID laws result in discrimination.”]
3) What is the importance of the claim that you bring up in part II with regard to the topic? Why is examining this claim important – in order to make sense of the topic? Is it a controversial issue – what are the reasons for each of the sides? Does it run counter to common sense? What does the common sense say? You will have to complete 4) before you can complete 3) here. [For example: “Common sense would seem to say that it cannot be difficult to get a government-issued ID, as issuing such IDs would seem to be one of the principal functions of the government, and that such an ID must be required to do anything at all as one lives in this country (so that everyone already has such IDs). So, the claim that photo ID laws damage democracy and are discriminatory in nature seems to run contrary to common sense.”]
Part II: The claim
4) Choose a philosophical claim either from the list above, your own thinking, reading, review questions, or the exam – addressing the work of the authors that we read. State the claim – in one sentence. (A claim is a statement that judges, claims or asserts something to be true.) The form here is: X is responsible for Y. [For example: ‘Voter Photo ID laws are responsible for damaging democracy.’]
5) Provide the page number or the section from the book or the name of the article or the number of the question from the quiz, from which you got the claim.
Part III: IN DEFENSE OF THE CLAIM
6) Provide support for the claim in 4). What is it about the first half of the claim that connects it to the second half of the claim. Identify what it is about X that makes it connected to Y. Use Sandel’s actual reasons for this conclusion – if appropriate. The form here is: identify xCy by which X is connected to Y. The answer should be one sentence only. [For example: “Photo IDs are not equally accessible to everyone, and, therefore, not everyone can vote and that damages democracy”]
7) Define or explain what it is about the first half of the claim that connects it to the second half of the claim (as you identified it in 6)). The form here is: Define or explain what xCy is – so that it is clear how it connects X to Y.
[For example: “Photo IDs are difficult to get for some segments of the population. 3 millions of Americans do not possess a government-issued Photo ID. They fall into four groups, roughly: the elderly, the minorities, the poor, and young adults 18 to 24. Government-issued IDs typically mean driver licenses, but many poor and elderly do not drive, especially if they live in cities with public transportation. And, many young adults do not yet have licenses. Other forms of ID usually suffice for these people – Medicaid cards, Social Security cards, bank cards. Minorities frequently rely on check-caching places that do not require government-issued photo ID. Getting a non-driving driver’s ID, or another government issued ID, may be a long distance away from where people live, and the lines for getting such IDs may be very long. Birth-certificates are frequently required for government-issued photo IDs. But the elderly may never have received any, since these were issued irregularly before the 1930s. Those who were given birth at home by midwives also did not receive birth certificates. Frequently, government-issued photo IDs are required to get a birth certificate to begin with. And, women who change their name at marriage, need marriage licenses or divorce papers in addition to birth certificates. And, finally, there are some fees for acquiring or replacing government-issued photo IDs.”]
8) Provide a specific example that demonstrates what you wrote in 4), 6) and 7) – an example that illustrates the truth of the claim in 4) and its explanation in 6) and 7). [For example: “When Thelma Mitchell, a retired state employee, learned that her old employee ID (which was issued by the state and included her photo) wouldn’t meet Tennessee’s new voter ID law, she went to a motor vehicle office to obtain a valid photo ID. The agency asked her for a birth certificate, but she didn’t have one and was denied her request for a new ID.”]
Part IV: CRITICISM OF THE CLAIM
9) Rephrase the claim in terms of necessity. This must be just one sentence. The form here is: X is necessary for Y [For example: “Photo ID laws are necessary for damaging democracy”]
10) Construct the simple negation of 9) – that is the initial step on your way to produce the refutation to it. This must be just one sentence. The form here is: X is not necessary for Y. [For example: “Photo ID laws are not necessary for damaging democracy”]
11) Construct the concrete possibility negation of 9) – this is the next step in your production of the refutation. This must be just one sentence. The form here is: Y is possible without any at all connection to X. [For example: “Damaging democracy is possible without any at all photo ID laws”]
12) Provide an example in which there is Y but without any presence of X. [For example: “How can the damaging of democracy take place if we do not have Photo ID laws – in order to very directly refute the claim in 4)? Even if there are no Voter Photo ID laws, voter fraud would be destroying democracy.”]
13) Identify another factor (W) due to connection with which Y is not connected to the original factor X in 4) . This must be just one sentence. The form here is: Y is due to connection with W (as that something else that is other than the X and that produces Y without any presence of X) [For example: “Damaging democracy is due to connection with corrupt voters – and that damaging of democracy takes place if there are no Voter Photo ID laws.”]
14) Identify that due to which the other factor W produces Y. The form here must be: Identify wCy about W by which Y is connected to W. [For example: “Corrupt voters damage democracy by making it so that the government does not represent the will and the interests of the people.”]
15) Explain or define what you have identified in 14). The form here must be: Define or explain what wCy is – so that it is clear how wCy connects Y to W. [For example: “Without the Photo ID cards, any person is able to walk in and vote in place of someone else. That would make it so that the will of the US population would be misrepresented in the government – and that would be damage to the US democracy.”]
16) Rephrase the claim in terms of sufficiency. This must be just one sentence. The form here is: X is sufficient for Y [For example: “Voter ID laws are sufficient to damage democracy”]
17) Construct the simple negation of 16) – this is the next step in your production of the refutation. This must be just one sentence. The form here is: X is not sufficient for Y [For example: “Voter ID laws are not sufficient to damage democracy”]
18) Construct the concrete possibility negation of 16) – this is the next step in your production of the refutation. This must be just one sentence. The form here is: X is possible without any at all connection to Y [For example: “Voter ID laws are possible without any at all damaging democracy.”]
19) Provide an example in which there is X but without any presence of or connection to or production of Y. [For example: “How can we have voter ID laws present but without any democracy damaging? If voter ID laws are present, and everyone has reasonably easy access to obtaining IDs, then ID laws would not damage democracy.”]
20) Identify, what about X makes us think that it is not sufficiently connected to Y. In other words, identify xCy1. This must be two sentences. The form here is: if xCy1 exists, or is true, (in addition to X), then X brings about Y. But xCy1 does not exist, or is not true – so X does not bring about Y. [For example: “If lack of reasonably easy for everyone access to photo IDs exists, then Voter Photo Id laws do bring about damaging democracy. But it is not true that there exists a lack of reasonably easy access for everyone to photo IDs – so Voter Photo ID laws do not bring about the damaging of democracy.”]
21) Explain or define what you identified in 20. The form here is: Define or explain what xCy1 is and how it would be possible for it to not be present, or not be true – so that it is clear how its absence, or untruth, makes it impossible for X to be connected to Y in our case. [For example: “In this day and age, with modern means of transportation and of reproduction, everyone can get themselves to a place where they can get a photo ID.”]
Part V: EVALUATION OF THE DEFENSE AGAINST THE CRITICISM OF THE CLAIM
22) Is the defense of the claim or the criticism of the claim stronger? Explain why. [For example: “There are good reasons – those presented in the defense – that getting a government-issued photo ID is not as easy as the common sense thinks it is. The first half of the criticism is right – there is a danger of voter fraud if there are no Voter Photo ID laws. The second half of the criticism is also right – photo ID laws do not undermine democracy if photo IDs are easily accessible for everyone, without discrimination. An empirical study is required to determine whether it is easy or difficult for people to get photo IDs. We would also need an empirical study to determine how significant are the dangers of voting fraud – since that is what the Photo ID laws aim to prevent. And, then, we would need to gauge (based on empirical data) whether democracy is undermined more by Photo ID Laws or by voter fraud. Finally, we would also need to ask whether Photo ID laws would be effective in stopping fraud. It seems also that the real issue is whether photo IDs are accessible but people simply choose not to get them for the reason of inconvenience. Are we obligated then not to pass the Photo ID Laws due to problems they create for democracy, if it were the case that a significant part of the blame is on the persons who choose not to get photo IDs? What is more important, that people are treated according to their choices (however responsible), or that we have a healthy democracy? HOWEVER, I believe that the claim is likely to be true. I found the reasons for the claim to be more likely to be true than those against. I don’t think there is strong evidence for fraud in the last elections – claims of fraud that have been brought to many federal courts have all been rejected. And the reasons for the difficulty of getting Photo IDs for certain segments of the population do seem plausible.”]
Part VI: REFLECTION/CONCLUSION
23) Discuss how your thinking about the topic (what you discussed in Part I) has been affected by what you did in Parts II through V. Has it strengthened your support of a position on the topic? Has it strengthened your opposition to a position on the topic? Etc. How and why? [For example: “I have changed my mind. While I thought that voter ID laws make sense, I am no longer sure. If they really do prevent people from participating in the democratic process, even if, in part, due to those people’s own choices – then it seems that the Photo ID laws should not be legislated. Perhaps the solution is to first establish services that guarantee photo IDs to everyone, if we really want these photo ID laws passed.”]
24) Discuss what have you learned – that you did not know before – from doing this paper. Address the content of your paper here – not only its form. [For example: “I have learned about the significant challenges faced by segments of the population – elderly, poor, women, young adults, minorities – in getting government-issued ID and that making such IDs into a requirement for voting would undermine democracy in the US right now.”]
Grading criteria: in addition to evaluating how adequately you have fulfilled the task of each part of the paper, you will be graded on the depth of your writing. What you write must not be overly simplistic and obvious, but must show an effort to explore the topic. Depth means that you discuss what you are writing about in detail and with explanation that is made possible by what we learn in this class. Your paper should show mastery of what we learn (such as applying concepts and arguments that we learn in a way that shows comprehension of those concepts and arguments.). The paper should not be such that it could have been written by an intelligent person who never took this class – but must be such that is written by an intelligent person who applies what is learned in this class with some depth. The paper must be informed by what we learned. If a response to what you are writing has been addressed by one of the authors we read, you need to address that author’s response to you.
Note: “everybody is different”, “everyone thinks differently”, “who is to say …”, “that’s just how I feel or think” or other versions of the same are not acceptable reasons for or against any position in a philosophy class and do not earn any credit. You have to give a specific reason due to which a position makes sense or not. In other words, what is it exactly about a person that would make that person into a special case – and is it relevant to the general truth of the claim?
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