Critical Thinking Essay Assignment


Critical Thinking Essay Assignment

Argue one of the following topics in your critical thinking essay:

1. Drug legalization is morally acceptable.

2. Drug legalization is not morally acceptable.

3. Prostitution is morally acceptable.

4. Prostitution is not morally acceptable.

5. Abortion is morally acceptable.

6. Abortion is not morally acceptable.

7. Euthanasia is morally acceptable.

8. Euthanasia is not morally acceptable.

9. Capital punishment is morally acceptable.

10. Capital punishment is not morally acceptable.

11. Corporate social responsibility is a moral obligation.

12. Corporate social responsibility is not a moral obligation.

13. We are obligated to protect animal welfare.

14. We are not obligated to protect animal welfare.

15. Affirmative action is a moral obligation.

16. Affirmative action is not a moral obligation.

Guidelines for writing your critical thinking essay

In making your argument, you are required to:

A. Include the following:

I. An introduction that includes your thesis statement

a. for example, say I’m writing an essay on the value of reading books and my thesis statement is about the value of reading books over watching movies. My introduction could simply be “In this essay, I argue that it is better to read a book than to watch a movie.”

II. Reason(s) that support your thesis statement (In other words, what are the reasons why should we agree with your thesis statement?)

a. for example: “Reading books gives the reader an advantage of having more detail in exposition that simply watching a movie cannot. For example, a five-second pan of the camera in a movie scene loses all of the important detail—even occasionally the narrator’s inner monologue—that can be expounded on for several pages in a novel. All of this information can make a difference in both one’s understanding and one’s appreciation of the story being told. Movies all too often are incapable of capturing fully that information the way the artfully-crafted written word can.”

NOTE: The above is simply a brief example of what supporting reasons for a thesis might look like. This is not, however, an example of an appropriate or recommended length for this particular section of your essay. You want your essay to be as strong as possible—after all, you are trying to convince us of your position, right? Therefore, you should spend an ample amount of room explaining exactly why it is we should agree with you.

III. A strong objection to your thesis

a. for example: “Some may argue that watching a movie is better than reading a book because movies can present a story in around two hours, while reading a book usually takes much more time.”

IV. A response to that objection

a. For example: “Especially when so many of us have busy lives and are pressed for time, the idea of watching a two-hour movie may seem more appealing than taking the time to read a 450-page book. However, I will argue that the benefits of taking the time to read a book far outweigh any benefit gained from lazily watching a two-hour flick. For example, reading a book is active and a good way to exercise the mind. When reading a book, one gets to use and creatively engage his imagination rather than have some silly movie director dictate and spoon-feed what images he sees.” Etc., etc., etc…

AGAIN NOTE: The above is simply a brief example of what responses to an objection might look like. This is not, however, an example of the recommended length for this particular section of your essay. Remember: the more you explain your reasons, the stronger your essay will be.

V. Conclusion (This should be a brief restatement of what you argued. Do not present any new information in the conclusion.)

B. Argue for your position using one of the following: A deontological moral theory, a utilitarian moral theory, Mill’s Harm Principle, Rawls’ Original Position

Essay for critical thinking assignment – Guidelines to remember

As an argumentative essay, you are not giving your opinion about a topic. You are picking a topic, choosing a side to argue, and presenting that argument. A good philosopher should be able to argue for or against any topic, regardless of what personal opinions the philosopher may hold.

*Begin your essay with an introductory paragraph. This entire introduction should only be a few sentences long. The key to this paragraph is your thesis statement; the thesis statement tells the reader exactly what you are seeking to prove and, concisely, how you are going to prove it.

*The main body of the essay should build a case that your thesis is correct and stronger than alternatives that other intelligent people might believe. Consequently, you will make arguments in support of your thesis while also addressing one or more of the texts that we’ve read in addition to considering other objections to the thesis.

*The concluding paragraph should be no longer than a few sentences. It should summarize your main arguments, briefly restate what your thesis is, and show how you supported the thesis.

Writing a Philosophy Paper

1. Philosophy is About Arguments.

You are expected to use and discuss arguments. An argument is a number of statements expressing ideas which fit together to establish the truth of some main idea, the latter being known as the conclusion. Almost always, the question you are going to answer will involve some issue which can be debated from at least two points of view. One of the key things to do will be to look at that question from these different points of view and present the arguments offered by each side. Even if the issue is one that you have very strong opinions about, you will be expected to examine the issue from other perspectives in at least as much detail as you present the one you agree with and to attempt to show why the arguments for one side are stronger than those for the other.

2. Include a thesis statement in your introductory section. 

A thesis statement is a sentence which clearly says what conclusion you are going to be arguing for in your paper. If you were going to argue that capital punishment is immoral, you would write (1) “I will argue that capital punishment is immoral,” and then (2) Briefly explain why it is immoral and how you’re going to prove this.

3. Justify Using Reasoned Arguments

You should use reasoned arguments to support the thesis that you are trying to establish.

4. Write Simply and Clearly

People often use long words when they write philosophical papers, but it is much better to try to put ideas as simply as possible. Try to write in a way that any college-educated person with no knowledge of philosophy could understand.

5. Explain Key Terms

Pretend that your reader is someone other than your professor and does not know what key philosophical terms are. For instance, if you say you are going to examine a question from a utilitarian point of view, to begin with, write a sentence stating what utilitarianism is.

6. Be Creative!

Philosophy need not be dry and humorless. In fact, the best philosophers are often quite witty, so feel free to exercise your sense of humor to make it fun to read (and write). This often involves using fascinating (but relevant!) examples.

7. Proper English

Correct grammar, spelling and punctuation are very important. Points will be deducted for poor writing.

8. Phrases to avoid:

(Yes, please oh please avoid using anything like these examples!) Rhetorical opening sentences like: “Since the beginning of time, philosophers have pondered the question of …” It’s better to just jump right into the topic. Vague, wishy-washy conclusions like: “What is the right answer? We may never know, but I for one have enjoyed this opportunity to explore it.” Pick a side and try to defend it.

Have fun!



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