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Social Justice – Critical Analysis Essay

December 21, 2015 0 Comment


Course Objectives: 

Objective 1
 – Describe and discuss general area of philosophy called political philosophy and problems within Non-Western Philosophy.

Objective 2 – Describe and discuss various philosophical problems, such as the nature of reality and appearance, the problem of mind/body, standards of truth, conditions and limits of human knowledge, free will/determinism, arguments concerning the existence of God, the problem of evil, moral principles, and political principles.

Objective 3 – Re-present and formulate different types of arguments and answers which have been offered in response to philosophic problems.

Objective 4 – Clearly engage in critical summary, analysis and/or evaluation of a philosopher’s argument, by explicitly employing the methods of argument through writing, (identification of assumptions, identification of premise/conclusion relationships, evaluation of logical validity and overall soundness within an argument’s inferences). Objective 5 – Clearly draw conclusions on the basis of explicit presentation of supporting arguments. When appropriate, these conclusions should emphasize ethical implications of issues and situations.

Method of Assessment: In addition to demonstration of the course objectives listed above and the unit objectives associated with the unit for this essay, student essays will be assessed on how well the student demonstrates the following:

  • complete all parts of the essay
  • objectively analyze and evaluate the topic under consideration
  • originality of writing

Your essay will not be evaluated on whether I agree with what you are saying. I will be looking at your understanding of the issues, but, mostly, I will be looking at the amount of depth, development and thoughtfulness that you bring to your answers. I will also look to see that you develop arguments for your conclusions, and that you avoid dogma and unsupported opinion. To this end, avoid expressions such as “its true for me,” and, “I feel.” Provide thinking rather than feeling, and arguments rather than opinions. Due Dates: Check the Course Schedule for Due Dates.

Essay Instructions: A copy of this exercise is available to download by clicking “here.”

Philosophy 191
Critical Thinking Essay
Unit 9: What is Social Justice?

Name: ________________________________________

Consider the following situation:

You now stand behind what the philosopher John Rawls calls the “veil of ignorance.” This means that you do not know who you are, or what your situation is within society. You do not know what race, sex, ethnicity or sexual orientation you have. You do not know if you are in a family that is worth millions of dollars, on one that based on a single parent who works two jobs and struggles hard just to bring in $35,000 a year. You do not know if you tend to be a sick or healthy person; or, whether or not you need glasses, a hearing aid, insulin, a wheelchair, a kidney, help with a learning disability, or infertility treatment. All you have is your ability to reason, and a desire for a just society. But you also know that once you are done with your task of laying the groundwork for this society, the wheel of fate will be spun for you many times. It will be spun once to choose your sex, once for your race, once for the kind of body you will have, once for intelligence, once for your age, once for family structure, once for family income, and so on. In other words, you are going to have to live in the society you are creating; but you don’t know where you are going to be in this society. You will have to create a society without any knowledge of what you special interests might be.

Your assignment is to write a two to three page paper (from 700 to 1000 words), which responds to the following question:

What are one or two general principles of justice, which should be used to govern, within a just society?

As you develop your two principles, bring in support from any two of the political philosophers that you have been reading in Chapter Ten. Use their ideas to help think through and defend your choice of principles. These may be philosophers that you agree with, disagree with, or, perhaps, a little of both.

Your paper should be organized into the four sections described below. Please use the section headings, Part One, Part Two, Part Three and Part Four, within your paper.

Part One: 
Area of Philosophy. Write an introduction to your paper, which clearly identifies a general area of philosophy, within which the philosophical problem that you will be exploring can be found. Refer to Chapter One if you need to review these areas. Do you think that the question posed above place your discussion within Metaphysics, Theory of Knowledge, Ethics, Political Philosophy, and/or Philosophy of Religion? Part one of your paper should be brief and concise. No more than 50 to 100 words maximum.

Part Two: Argument Analysis: Present the points of view, and the arguments supporting those views, from the two philosophers you have chosen to discuss this philosophical questions with you. Summarize and pick these arguments apart a little. What are the main premises of their arguments? Does they make any important assumptions? What evidence do they present that is factual and verifiable? And what evidence do they present that is more a matter of speculation and/or interpretation? In this section of your paper you are merely analyzing, or, picking apart the arguments. Do not draw any conclusions as to whether or not these arguments are valid and/or sound. This section of your paper should be at least 250 words.

Part Three: Argument Evaluation. In this section present and defend some judgments about these arguments. Are these premises safe to accept? Are there any questionable assumptions made? If we do accept them do they take us logically to their conclusions? Your evaluation should make explicit use of concepts such as “assumption,” “soundness” and “validity,” as these are presented within Chapter One of the text. This section of your paper should be at least 250 words.

Part Four: Conclusion. Draw your own interesting and relevant conclusions about the philosophical problem you are exploring. Do not merely offer a set of “feelings” or an “opinion.” Instead, build your own argument, regarding the questions above. If you find that you are in agreement with some of the philosopher’s ideas, then you can use these as part of your own argument, so long as you do not merely reiterate what they are saying. After you have stated what your principles of justice are, apply your principles to any two of the following questions:

In a just society, how will health care be organized?

In a just society, how will education be organized?

In a just society, how will taxation be structured?

In a just society, how will you handle vices such as drugs, alcohol, pornography, unhealthy food, etc.?

In a just society, what role will the government regulation take? For example, the regulation of business, the environment, or the behavior of individuals who engage in vice, or the behavior of people who are intolerant and/or discriminatory toward others?

In a just society, ……………… (you decide how to complete this one)

Be very clear and explicit as to how your answers to these questions are based on the political philosophy that you have developed in the first part of your paper. This part of your paper should be 300 words minimum.

Formatting the essay:

The essays should be saved into Microsoft Word file format. If they are not, then the professor will not be able to open them to grade. You should not copy and paste your essays into the dialog box associated with this essay in the Drop Box This is because your professor will need to download your essays and give you grading comments. Your essays should be single-spaced, with one-inch margins, and a 10-point Arial font.

The primary goal of each writing exercise is to (1) demonstrate your knowledge of the material, and (2), to demonstrate your ability to apply philosophical reasoning skills to the various topics we cover. Since this is a short paper, you are not allowed to use to quotes. Instead, you should paraphrase people’s ideas into your own words so that it is clear that you have comprehension of the material.

When you have finished your essay, you should upload it to the course Dropbox by the due date listed in the course schedule. You can find the Dropbox at the top right of the course home page. Your professor will grade your essay and return it to you with grading comments.

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