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Analysis of opinions expressed about ethical matters is a central part of this course. Students are to find a total four articles (one for each assignment) – each from an authoritative, primary source and analyze each article according to the guidelines below

Homework Assignments for Online Sections

Homework assignments will be a part of the grade for this course.  Students in online sections will analyze a total of four articles.  Due dates are posted; late penalties apply as stated in syllabus.

These papers are NOT to be about a general overview of the topic, nor are they to be about your opinion of the topic.  These are to be your analysis of an experts opinion using the principles of moral reasoning that are described in chapter 1.  The purpose of these assignments is to apply critical analysis to ethical debates on the topic


Analysis of opinions expressed about ethical matters is a central part of this course.  Students are to find a total four articles (one for each assignment) each from an authoritative, primary source and analyze each article according to the guidelines below.  The topics to be discussed in the articles are as follows:

  1. Assignment 1:  Gay Marriage
  2. Assignment 2:  Abortion (any framing of the argument)
  3. Assignment 3:  Capital Punishment
  4. Assignment 4:  Students may choose from any other major topic covered in this course, not already used above

Appropriate Sources

The person whose opinion you are analyzing must have a definite position on the topic and must have some reasonable authority to comment on it.  Further, the information that you gather about the expert should come from an authoritative primary source not from popular or second-hand sources.

You will find one source of information about the opinion held by each expert.  This should be a primary source of information (see UNOH study guide #9).  For instance, if you are discussing stem cell research from the point of view of someone whose expertise comes from being a social leader, you could find a good source of information by going to WhiteHouse.gov and searching for President Barack Obamas executive order from March 2009.  This is a primary source of information, as opposed to the excerpts and factoids that you might find from other sources that discuss the presidents position on stem cell research.

The sources of information you use should be authoritative.  This means that the person is qualified to comment on the topic and that the document containing that opinion is from a reputable source.  There are several UNOH library study guides that can help you determine what is authoritative and how to locate it, so you should familiarize yourself with all of the study guides.  For instance, study guide #13 explains how to distinguish scholarly from non-scholarly periodicals, while study guide #4 explains how to find a scholarly article.  These guides will be tremendously helpful to you in distinguishing what sources of information are reputable.

Assuming that you are using primary, reputable resources regarding someone who is a legitimate expert on the topic, you may select from a wide range of possible types of sources including books (or sections thereof), scholarly journals, literature put out by an organization on its position, and news stories by major news networks (e.g., MSNBC, CBS, etc.).  You may even conduct an interview of your own with someone who is an expert on your topic according to one of the “ways of knowing” which will be explained in class.

You must use great care if you are doing research on the internet.  The internet contains a lot of good material by experts, but it also contains material that is simply popular or sensational.  In general, you should avoid user-edited or user-contributed sources that allow non-experts to discuss their views (e.g., Wikipedia, YouTube, blogs, and opinion pages).  You should also avoid information that is secondary or tertiary, meaning that others have taken excerpts or factoids from the original material and compiled their own narrative from these (e.g., about.com or ontheissues.org).  At worst, internet sites may be sensational, ridiculous, or just plain wrong; at best, they may point you to some source beyond themselves which is a usable primary source and may be a good place to begin your search for information.  Some general rules of thumb would be that sites ending in .gov or .edu are likely to be good primary resources, but you still need to consider the source.  For instance, a college club may have a .edu address, but probably does not represent an expert opinion on a topic, while the professor who has done extensive research (and also has the .edu address) probably is an expert on the topic.  Likewise, a major news network may be a good source of information, but its opinion page would not count as this.  Study guide #17 can help you learn to evaluate information found on the internet.

Using your UNOH account, you may also access scholarly journals online through ProQuest (study guide #4).  The resources you find there are peer-reviewed research and are definitely considered authoritative primary sources.  These are the same as the hard copy editions of these journals, simply in digitized form.  In other words, you do not have to scrutinize these in the way that you would internet-based sources in general.

Having located appropriate, authoritative primary resources, be sure you always use proper citation style in both your bibliography and footnotes.  For instance, if you do a ProQuest online search and use a scholarly journal, it is not enough to simply cite the “number” associated with that search; you still need all the standard data (e.g., journal name, volume, issue, date, etc.).  Likewise, if you do an interview, you need to cite this properly as well.  Pay attention to detail.  For instance, a chapter of a book is cited differently than a whole book.  All citations should conform to the University of Chicago Manual of Style or to “Turabian” style.  Guides to these styles are available in most libraries or online.

Finally, in the assignment itself, refer to your expert source properly.  Use the persons highest title when introducing him or her.  In subsequent references, call the person by the last name or by title and last name.

INCORRECT:  Mr. Martin Luther King was an advocate of peaceful means of ending discrimination.  Martin co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

CORRECT:  Martin Luther King, Jr., Ph.D., was an advocate of peaceful means of ending discrimination.  Dr. King co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Nature and Format of each Assignment

In each assignment, you should follow the outline below, although not writing in outline form.  If you supply all the necessary information and write concisely, your paper should be about 1 ½ pages long.

  1. Paragraph 1 (short, concise) Identify who the source is and why he or she is relevant to the topic.  This should be a brief, but formal introduction which cites the credentials of the expert.

INCORRECT:  I believe that Ludwig Minelli is a relevant source on assisted suicide because he founded Dignitas.

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