How to Write an Ethics Essay
Writing an essay for ethics is a little different from other essays. The main reason is that your arguments must be very tight and present sound logic and moral reasoning based on the ethical theories (utilitarianism, social contractualism, divine command, naturalism, etc…) presented in the course. Below are the basic requirements of an ethics essay. To receive a passing grade (D), your essay must have all components easily identifiable in your paper. Your grade will increase based on how well you present your logic and apply the ethical theories to your thesis (with cited support as needed) after the minimum requirements for the essay are met.
1) Your essay should have five paragraphs. Double-spaced, Times New Roman 12 pt font, 1 inch margins. It should have your name and section number on it. All other writing standards should follow MLA format. (If your essay does not conform to these standards, it will be reduced in points.)2) Your first paragraph is where you provide the introduction of your ethical dilemma. This should be the background surrounding the moral situation about which you will be writing (no more than six to eight sentences should be necessary). Your final sentence should be your ethical thesis.3) An ethical thesis is a little different from a thesis for a different kind of essay. Your ethical thesis must have three components. It must have an agent (the person whose actions/behavior you will be discussing), an action (the specific action of the agent under moral review), and your judgment (do you think it is okay/not okay, right/wrong). a. Example: Let’s say that I have been struggling with the morality of taking candy from a co-workers desk. My introduction paragraph might look like this….I currently work at XYZ publishing. In our office, we often share resources to get the job done. Bill likes to keep his favorite candy on his desk to help him get through the day. Sometimes, I get hungry in the afternoon, so I sneak some of the candy from his desk without him knowing. Bill is often upset when he discovers that his candy is gone.For me to steal candy from Bill’s desk is not okay. b. The underlined portion is the thesis statement. It should be a simple sentence in which the agent = me, the action = stealing candy, & my judgment = not okay are clearly presented. The five sentences before the thesis simply provide the back ground for the issue.4) The next three paragraphs that follow should each present a different ethical theory supporting the thesis. Each paragraph should have a topic sentence that clearly and correctly identifies and defines the ethical theory being appealed (capitalize the names of the ethical frameworks and either bold or italicize them).a. Example: There are many reasons why I should not steal candy from Bill’s desk. According to the ethical theory of Kant’s Categorical Imperative, the moral thing is to live by those maxims that I would will as a principle of moral living for all people. I have often been upset because, there are certain pens that I like to write with and I spend my own money to make sure those pens are on my desk. I expect people not to take those things that I have expressly purchased for my own use from my desk. Since I don’t want people stealing my pens because they are mine, Bill also has the same expectation. By stealing his candy, I am going against my own maxim of not wanting others to steal from me. This contradiction between my expectation and my actions according to Kant shows that my stealing Bill’s candy is not okay and thus immoral.b. This would be my first “body” paragraph. It correctly defines the theory I am using to help me think through my issue, and my logic in the paragraph reveals how the theory guides my thoughts. The next two body paragraphs would do the same thing except with different ethical theories. Please note that when applying the Divine Command Theory you need to support your assertions with scriptural or doctrinal evidence (i.e. a quotation or teaching).5) The final paragraph is the conclusion. It should re-state your ethical thesis, and close the essay on some kind of “attention-grabbing” or “memorable” way that ties the entire essay together. Often an applicable quote, statistic or anecdote serves the purpose.a. Example: In conclusion, because of Kant’s categorical imperative, utilitarianism, and social contractualism, it is apparent that for me to continue to steal Bill’s candy from his desk is the wrong thing to do. Sir Francis Bacon has said, “Opportunity makes a thief.” That is indeed what I have become in my office, and I know that I do not want to be known as that. Hunger is no excuse for not asking Bill’s permission.b. The final paragraph does not need to be as long as the previous four, but it should do a good job of closing your argument. Briefly remind the reader of the frameworks you employed in your argument. Also note that I used a quote from Sir Francis Bacon. That quote would need to be cited as such. You do not need to have a Bibliography page, however, if you quote a saying, a state, a report, or anything else, please cite it in the paragraph as I did or use either footnotes or endnotes according to MLA style. Other than a quote you could have an anec- dote or possibly a statistic or two; anything to give your conclusion a “pop”. YOUR ESSAYS WILL BE SUBMITTED TO OUR ONLINE PLAGERISM DATABASE. ANY ESSAYS FOUND TO CONTAIN PLAGERISED MATERIAL WILL BE GVIEN A ZERO. PLAGERISM IS A SERIOUS ACADEMIC OFFENSE…NOT REALIZING IT IS NOT AN EXCUSE. IF IN DOUBT, CITE IT IN AN ENDNOTE OR FOOTNOTE!!!!!6) This is not a blog, an email, a text, or even a casual conversation with a friend. Your grade will depend not on your personal expression, but on how well you can express your moral reasoning in a compelling, competent, and clear manner through an academic essay. Once again, a passing essay will have only five paragraphs, a clear and correct thesis, and will support the thesis using three different ethical theories in the body of the essay. If I cannot identify these components or they are incorrectly presented (ex. defining a theory incorrectly or missing a clear agent from the thesis) the essay will be downgraded.7) The scenarios you are to use for your essay are to come fromone of the CASES FOR ANALYSIS at the end of each chapter (Chapters 9-11 & 13), your choice. The title of the Case for Analysis you use should be the title of your essay. Read the case, break it down into simple points and create your introduction paragraph (no more than six to eight sentences should be necessary), ending with your thesis statement of course.