Intervening in a debate

Kind of Essay: Intervening in a debate. Very similar to the discussion questions but you should feel free to develop lines of argument that take you further from the readings if you wish to do so. If you do, be sure that the arguments you develop are interesting enough to warrant overlooking those in the readings.
Capital Punishment What is the moral status of capital punishment? Is it morally right or wrong? How should we think about capital punishment morally and why? Is capital punishment the only form of just punishment for certain crimes? Is it in principle acceptable but in practice unacceptable? Should we oppose it because we’re bound to make mistakes or are there reasons for opposing it even if it would always be used as intended (i.e. even if only the guilty get executed and it is fairly distributed)? Make sure to reference van den Haag and Bedau (attached).
Note: Taking such a position is not the same as taking an extreme position—you do not necessarily have to fully endorse or fully condemn. You may wish to take a strong stance on one or other side of a debate but you do not have to. If you think that there are things to be said for and against a view and that neither side in the debate is to be favored entirely, then you do not have to force yourself into defending a position that you are not actually convinced of. Having said that, whatever view you take, remember that this is still an argumentative piece of writing. So, you must give your reader reasons to accept the conclusion that you favor.
The Style of this Essay
This essay is a return to applied ethics. Once again, we are discussing something that is of very immediate concern, and which is hotly debated outside of academia. You should use the van den Haag and Bedau to inform your argument but your essay should not be simply a matter of replying to them.
Basic Essay Requirements:
1 Your essay should be double-spaced.
2 Font size should be 12.
3 It should be no less than 5 pages and no more than 5 pages long. It must have your name and the essay title clearly printed at the top of the first page.
4 Following the last page there should be appended a bibliography/list of references (APA style). This does not count towards the overall length of the essay.
5 When saving your essay you should title the document lastname_firstname_final.doc. This allows for a much more efficient filing of your work as I receive it.
6 Proper referencing is very important. If your reader thinks you are not accurately representing a person’s position or if they wish to see its context, then he or she ought to be able to easily find the source material to check it. In addition to the bibliography, you should have in-text citations (APA style).
7 You should submitted via the Turnitin link (found on Blackboard, under “Module 7”) in a MS-Word compatible format by 11:59pm on May 17th.
1 Barring truly extenuating circumstances, reviewed on a case-by-case basis, you will lose 3 points for every 24 hours that the assignment is late (e.g., if you turn in the final on May 18th and you would have received 27/30 on the assignment, you will receive 24/30 after the 3-point deduction). The absolute last day to submit the final paper will be May 23rd.
Tips
1 Jargon can be useful but you should never use jargon without explaining it. The explanation does not have to be lengthy. Just make sure it is clear and in your own words.
2 Rather than simply listing all the things you have to say about the paper you are discussing, try to see if you can group your comments thematically. For instance, you may notice that of your, say, four main objections to an author two of them have to do with weaknesses in the examples he offers and the other two are concerned with the consequences of adopting the view he defends. In that case it may be good to organize your critique accordingly.
3 On the other hand, you should also prioritize your objections. It is unlikely that you think that all of your lines of objection are equally strong. In that case you may want to start with the weakest of your objections and work towards the strongest. If you do this, you should make it clear to the reader why you think the weaker ones are weaker and the stronger ones stronger. The point of this and the previous point is to get you to go beyond a list of objections and to give your essay some structure and form.
4 Keep quotation to a minimum and where possible favor paraphrasing an author’s views in your own words. When you do quote an author try to be as brief as possible. Quotation should not do the ‘heavy lifting’. By and large, it should serve to illustrate or support something you have explained in your own words. As a rule of thumb ask yourself whether your paper would be intelligible without the quotations. If not, then perhaps you are misusing them. (An exception may be when you are particularly concerned with how an author phrases something, perhaps because you think that phrasing it that way commits him to a contradiction or some other logical error.)
5 Be direct in your writing. Your paper is 5 pages long; so, you need to get down to the issues right from the start. I would recommend an opening paragraph not longer than 10 lines in which you make clear to the reader who/what you are discussing and exactly what the topic under discussion is, what your own view is, and in very broad terms why you hold that view. In other words, give the reader a sense of what lies ahead.
6 Avoid very ambitious claims. They are usually exceedingly hard to defend.
7 Take time to think of the ways in which the views you favor might be wrong. You might come up with something interesting. Even if you do not change your views, you may discover a facet of the debate that is worth discussing.
8 Read charitably. If you are criticizing someone, then be sure to interpret them so that they are making the strongest argument possible and not a weaker one.
9 To do a good job on this paper you need to read closely and carefully.

The final paper (5 full pages plus a bibliography/reference page) will be an analysis of an issue based on a prompt. The final should follow the following format: double-spaced, 12-point, Times Roman Font, one-inch margins. Please use APA style citations. It is to be submitted via this Turnitin link in a MS-Word compatible format by 11:59pm on May 17th. Make the file name: lastname_firstname_final.doc. Barring truly extenuating circumstances, reviewed on a case-by-case basis, you will lose 3 points for every 24 hours that the assignment is late (e.g., if you turn in the final on May 18th and you would have received 27/30 on the assignment, you will receive 24/30 after the 3-point deduction). The absolute last day to submit the final papawzer will be May 23rd.