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PHL132 HAPPINESS, GOODNESS AND JUSTICE
Semester 2 2018
Task 2: PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY
Length: 1500 words (max) / Weighting: 40%
Due: Wednesday November 7, 2018, 23:59 via iLearn
Unit Convenor: A/Prof. Robert Sinnerbrink; Email: PHL132@mq.edu.au
Before beginning your assignment please ensure that you have carefully read the Unit Guide. See the Unit Guide for details on extensions and late penalties.
The aim of this assignment is to critically reflect on what you have learned in Parts 2 and 3 of the unit on the nature of morality and justice.
TASK: In a 1500 word essay respond to ONE of the following questions:
1. Critically discuss this claim (in philosophical, not religious terms): “Religion is irrelevant for morality. Neither the authority of moral values nor the motivation to act morally depends upon the existence of God”.
2. Critically discuss this claim (in philosophical terms): “We ought to adopt a normative principle of uncritical tolerance towards the moral beliefs and practices of other cultures”.
3. Which theory of normative ethics considered in this unit (i.e. Social Contract Theory, Utilitarianism or Kantian Ethics) provides the most convincing account of morality? Why?
4. Select a contemporary example of perceived injustice, such as international inequality or closed borders. Critically discuss this chosen example by drawing on Rawls’s theory of justice.
5. Critically discuss this claim (in philosophical terms): “Justice requires that whoever can afford to fix the problems caused by climate change should pay to fix them, no matter who caused those problems in the first place”.
Instructions:
Follow the four steps below in working out and composing your essay discussion.
1. You need to write a brief introduction in which you present the issue at hand and briefly summarise in a sentence or two what you will be arguing.
In the case of questions 1, 2 and 5, that will require stating whether you agree with the claim in question or not. In the case of question 3, you need to develop your own claim about which theory is best. In the case of question 4, you need to develop a claim about the injustice or justice of your chosen example while drawing on Rawls’s theory.
2. The body of your essay should provide a discussion of what you take to be the most important reasons that can be given in favour of the claim you are arguing for, as well as a consideration of some of the main objections that can be made to your claim. Your discussion here should make explicit reference to the theory that the claim relates to and to the relevant readings in the Unit Reader.
3. You should also undertake and integrate into your essay some further relevant research. You should use this research to help you to: understand the relevant issues and claims; highlight relevant points in previous discussions of these issues; develop arguments in favour of your view; develop objections to your view; or develop responses to objections to your view. You should use appropriate academic sources.
As a guide, in addition to relevant texts in the unit reader, in your essay you should use and refer to roughly 2 to 3 further pieces of research. You can use more sources if you wish. To get started, have a look at guide to further reading on iLearn. We will also discuss how to find appropriate sources in tutorials.
4. You need to write a brief conclusion in which you recapitulate what you have discussed in your essay, and most importantly what conclusion you came to. You need to reiterate strongly, in your own words, whether you agree with the claim or not.
Include a reference list of works that you have referred to in composing your essay. Cite sources appropriately throughout. You can use any major system of referencing you wish (e.g. Harvard, Chicago, etc.), as long as you do so consistently. You can reference the unit reader as follows: (Author, PHL132 2018 Unit reader, pp. x-y). For example, to reference Epicurus in the unit reader, you might have: (Epicurus, PHL132 2018 Unit reader, p. 3). Lecture slides can be referenced as (PHL132 2018 Lecture slides, Week x). Please be aware of the University’s Academic Honesty Policy.
Submission:
Submit your paper via the relevant Turnitin link on iLearn. Note, you can submit your paper ONCE only. Make sure your paper is finalised before you upload it. Include a word count at the end of your essay.
Word limit:
The word limit is 1500 words (not counting references or the reference list) – NOT 1500 words plus or minus 10%. If you exceed the word limit, then you will be penalised. Exceeding it by a little will only result in a small penalty; exceeding it by a lot in a larger penalty.
Marking:
A qualitative marking rubric is included below. Your essay will be graded against this rubric.
HD D Cr P F
Understanding and
Knowledge
Demonstrates a deep & critical understanding of the text and issues. Demonstrates a deep understanding of the text and issues.
Demonstrates a sound understanding of the text and issues.
Demonstrates a satisfactory understanding of the text and issues.
Insufficient evidence of a satisfactory understanding of the relevant issues.
Argument, Critical
Analysis, and Focus An excellent argument & deep critical analysis of the relevant text & issues.
Focuses on the most important issues to the right degree.
A very good argument &
critical analysis of the relevant text & issues. Focuses on relevant issues to the right degree.
A clear argument & critical analysis of the relevant text & issues. Mostly focuses on relevant issues to a reasonable degree. A satisfactory argument &
critical analysis of the relevant text & issues.
Reasonable focus on the relevant issues. A poorly stated & defended
argument and
little or no plausible critical analysis.
Inadequate focus on the relevant issues.
Writing Structure, Style, and Length Excellent, wellstructured & clear writing style, no spelling or grammatical errors, correct use of terms, clear organization at sentence, paragraph & essay levels, correct word length. Very good, wellstructured & clear writing style, no (or few)
spelling or grammatical errors, correct use of terms, clear organization at sentence, paragraph & essay levels, correct word length. Good, reasonably well-structured & clear writing style, few
spelling or grammatical errors, mostly correct use of terms, mostly clear organization at sentence, paragraph & essay levels, correct word length. Satisfactory, adequatelystructured & mostly clear writing style, some spelling or grammatical errors, passably correct use of terms, passably clear organization at sentence, paragraph & essay levels, close to correct word length. Poor, inadequatelystructured & unclear writing style, numerous spelling or grammatical errors, frequent incorrect use of terms, unclear organization at sentence, paragraph & essay levels, incorrect word length.
Research and
Referencing Excellent use and integration of relevant research; excellent selection of appropriate research. Correct referencing with no errors. Good use and integration of relevant research; good selection of appropriate research. Correct referencing with very minor errors. Satisfactory use and integration of relevant research; satisfactory selection of appropriate research. Correct
referencing, some minor errors. Adequate use and integration of relevant research; adequate selection of appropriate research. Mostly correct referencing, some minor errors. Poor use of research; little or no research undertaken; uses only irrelevant research. Problematic or incorrect referencing.
Communication and
Creativity Demonstrates excellent originality & creativity. Demonstrates good originality & creativity. Demonstrates satisfactory originality & creativity. Demonstrates minimal originality & creativity. Demonstrates negligible originality & creativity.

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