moral vegetarianism

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In this three-part assignment, you will be asked to explore an ethical topic in detail. The ultimate goal is for you to understand a topic from both sides and to begin to express your own reasons for adopting the side of the argument you do. In the first two parts of the assignment, you will be asked to dispassionately and fairly analyze arguments on both sides of the issue. In the last part, you will adjudicate between the positions you expressed and explain where you think the best reasons lie.

Part I: Exposition

Two 600-word essays (1200 words total): (i) a 600-word essay on the pro-side of the argument, and (ii) a 600-word essay on the con-side of the argument.

At this stage, you are simply laying out arguments on both sides. You are not taking a position. You will be doing the best job you can in objectively summarizing the arguments from the articles I assign you. You will not criticize the arguments in any way, but rather focus on explaining them fairly and objectively. Do your best to make the strongest case for both sides, regardless of your beliefs at this stage.

After you have explicated both articles in detail, end your essay with a short summary of the major points of both articles, but without taking a position on the issue.

Tips:

  • Jump right into the exposition of the articles. Your introduction should be simple, something like: “In this essay, I will be summarizing and explaining two articles. The first is …. The second is ….”
  • In academic papers, use “one” or “oneself” instead of “you.” The use of “I,” “me,” etc. has become widely accepted in academic writing, so you are free to use those first-person pronouns.
  • Don’t use quotes over four lines long. You can summarize parts of something you read from a source and then quote a piece of it no longer than four lines.
  • When you refer to an author, use her or his first and last name the first time you mention her or him and the last name only afterwards. Never use the first name alone.
  • Make arguments, don’t ask questions intended to be arguments. For example, you might say, “It is unreasonable to expect people in poor countries to change their diets,” instead of “How can people in poor countries change their diets?” Don’t use questions as arguments.

Grading Criteria (50 points, 25 points each):

I am always happy to discuss the grade you earned on your work. The following is a set of general considerations and guidelines I use for assigning grades.

22.5 – 25 points: Excellent Essay
20 – 22.49 points: Above-Average Essay
17.5 – 19.99 points: Good Essay
15 – 17.49 points: Needs Work
0 – 14.99 points: Serious Problems with the Essay

An excellent essay …

is the assigned word limit (neither longer nor shorter)

is free from grammatical and spelling errors

is well-organized and easy to follow

is scholarly in tone and style (objective and dispassionate)

clearly and correctly explains all major and significant premises and conclusions of the authors’ arguments

fully describes the support given by the author for each premise

demonstrates a thorough understanding of the arguments by being in your own words

is free from unsubstantiated opinions

I assess your essays by how they deviate from an excellent essay. I do not assign specific points to each element described above, but rather judge the essay as a whole. A relatively minor element, like grammatical errors, might become more significant if errors permeate the essay, since they can make an essay unreadable.

Pro-side

Required exposition: Singer, “All Animals Are Equal”

Citation: Singer, Peter. “All Animals are Equal.” Philosophic Exchange. Volume 5, Number 1 (1974): 103-116.

One of these:

Hursthouse, “Applying Virtue Ethics to Our Treatment of the Other Animals”

Citation: Hursthouse, Rosalind. “Applying Virtue Ethics to Our Treatment of the Other Animals,” in Jennifer Welchman (ed), The Practice of Virtue. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing, 2006. 136-155.

Regan, “The Case for Animal Rights”

Citation: Regan, Tom. 1985, “The Case for Animal Rights,” in Peter Singer (ed.), In Defence of Animals, Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1985. 13–26.

Korsgaard, “Fellow Creatures: Kantian Ethics and Our Duties to Animals”

Citation: Korsgaard, Christine M. “Fellow Creatures: Kantian Ethics and Our Duties to Animals,” in Grethe B. Peterson (ed.), The Tanner Lectures on Human Values, Volume 25/26, Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2004.

Con-side

Required exposition: Schedler, “Does Ethical Meat Eating Maximize Utility?”

Citation: Schedler, George. “Does Ethical Meat Eating Maximize Utility?,” Social Theory and Practice. Volume 31, Number 4 (2005): 499-511.

One of these:

Bruckner, “Strict Vegetarianism is Immoral”

Citation: Bruckner, Donald W. “Strict Vegetarianism is Immoral,” in Ben Bramble and Bob Fischer (eds.), The Moral Complexities of Eating Meat. Oxford: OUP, 2016. 30-47

Belshaw, “Meat”

Citation: Belshaw, Christopher. “Meat,” in Ben Bramble and Bob Fischer (eds.), The Moral Complexities of Eating Meat. Oxford: OUP, 2016. 9-19.

Davis, “The Least Harm Principle May Require that Humans Consume a Diet Containing Large Herbivores, Not a Vegan Diet”

Citation: Davis, Stephen L. “The Least Harm Principle May Require that Humans Consume a Diet Containing Large Herbivores, Not a Vegan Diet.” Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics. Volume 16, Issue 4 (2003): 387-394.

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