Essay Assignment: Topics and Instructions
NB: Before starting your essay, you should read this entire document as well as the information in the ‘Essay Assignments: Grading Criteria and Helpful Information’ folder found in Unit 5.
Choose one of the topics below.
Topic 1: Utilitarianism, the trolley problem, and Stowaway; you will need access to Netflix if you choose this topic.
The trolley problem is a well-known utilitarian dilemma, and the movie Stowaway, on Netflix, is a twist on this classic problem. Though we will not be covering utilitarianism until Unit 8, you can skip ahead to that reading if you wish to write on this topic. If you choose this topic, you should do the following:
- Watch the movie Stowaway on Netflix (it’s a really good movie!).
- Read section H, Utilitarianism, in Chapter 8 (this is assigned reading for Unit 8, so, it won’t be extra reading for you).
- Look at the trolley problem forum thread in Unit 8 and watch the 2 short video clips provided there.
- Write an essay that explores the utilitarian approach to the trolley problem and discusses how the film creates a different ‘trolley problem’ dilemma. In addition to discussing specific points from the film, your essay must include reference to/discussion of at least one reading from section H in chapter 8 our text as well as at least one reference to/discussion of an article/entry in eitherThe Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy or The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, through quotation and/or paraphrase.
- Your objective for this essay is to explain to your reader what the trolley problem is, what utilitarianism is, and how the film presents a version of the trolley problem; feel free to also give your opinion on how a utilitarian would respond to the dilemma posed in the film.
Video link for the trolley problem for TOPIC 1:
Video 1 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fs0E69krO_Q&t=2s
Video 2- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DtRhrfhP5b4&t=1s
Regardless of the topic you choose, your essay must include the following:
- A heading done according to MLA
- An original title
- An introductory paragraph that contains your thesis (see this VERY helpful advice onhow to write your intro/begin your essay, and if you are unsure of how to write a thesis, read this advice on developing a thesis)
- Body paragraphs that develop and support your thesis (here is some excellent advice on how to structurebody paragraphs)
- A minimum of 3 full pages (your works cited page doesn’t count as a page)
- A conclusion (see this VERY helpful advice onhow to conclude your essay)
- A MLA works cited page that includes all sources referenced in your essay.
Your essay should be double-spaced, in Times New Roman 12 point font; your paper should be written in Standard English and done in MLA format. To submit your paper, click on ‘Essay Assignment’ in the Unit 5 folder. You should attach a file that can be opened with Microsoft Word (doc or docx); do not submit a pdf or type in the submission box.
Any instance of plagiarism will be punished by a minimum of an F on the assignment and a report to the associate dean of the humanities division. Further punishment could include failure in the course, suspension, or expulsion.
In addition to the above specifications, your essay should meet the essay requirements listed below topic 2.
Topic 2: Philosophy Bites Podcast
Here is a blurb about the podcast from Wikipedia: “Philosophy Bites is a podcast series featuring philosophers being interviewed for 15–20 minutes on a specific topic. The series, which has been running since 2007, is hosted by Nigel Warburton, freelance lecturer, and David Edmonds…The podcast has been one of the 20 most downloaded series in the United States and has over 34 million downloads.
If you choose this topic, you should do the following:
- Choose one of the podcast episodes that is on a topic of interest to you; use this thematically organized list of the podcast episodes to choose an episode you want to write about; you may want to listen to a few before deciding on one.
- Write an essay that summarizes the podcast episode and discusses your reason for interest in this topic. In addition to discussing the podcast, your essay must include reference to/discussion of at least one reading from our text that relates to the topic of the podcast episode, as well as at least one reference to/discussion of an article/entry (also related to the podcast episode) in eitherThe Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy or The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, through quotation and/or paraphrase.
- Your objective for this essay is to inform your reader about whatever concept/topic/philosopher/problem is discussed in the podcast, as well as to discuss your own interest in this topic.