At this point in our examination of ethical theory, we have encountered many arguments. For this paper, I ask you to choose just one of these arguments, analyze it, and evaluate it in significant depth. You do not have to use one of the arguments I have presented in the lectures or in class. If there is an argument in a text we’ve read that we haven’t covered, you are free to reconstruct that argument and select it as the topic of your paper. The prompt asks you to do two distinct things: analyze the argument, and evaluate the argument. Analyzing the argument involves (i) laying out the argument as clearly and concisely as possible,
(ii) explaining how the premises work together logically to support the conclusion, and (iii) discussing every premise of the argument, which may involve explaining the argument (or at least the rationale) for the premise itself if the premise is not a self-evident or obvious statement. In general, the point here is to show that you understand the argument and that you’re interpreting it in a charitable way. Evaluating the argument involves making judgments about the quality of the argument—whether it is a good argument or not. There are, as we’ve discussed, multiple ways in which an argument can be “good” and “bad.” Minimally, for an argument to be good it must prove its conclusion. This, in turn, means that it is valid and sound. But in addition, although a circular or equivocal argument might be valid and sound, they fail to truly support their conclusions. It’s possible to question virtually any interesting argument’s soundness, because interesting premises are never obviously true. So, I expect you to discuss objections to some premise of the argument you choose even if you’ve ultimately decided that the argument is sound.