Due Date: No later than Wednesday, October 31st.
Instructions: The purpose of this writing assignment is to test your ability to explain and evaluate an assigned topic of contemporary interest using your skills as a critical thinker. Clear, logically developed writing is essential for completing the assignment successfully. Your goal is essentially threefold:
1. In an initial paragraph, introduce both your topic and your own thesis, i.e. what you
intend to prove in the paper, concerning this topic. In this case, you’ll be discussing animal
2. Compare and contrast the different thinkers mentioned in the topic with respect to the
philosophical problem you are examining, e.g. personal identity, ethics, politics. This will
require you to identify and clarify the premises of each thinker's argument and the
conclusion(s) these premises are intended to support. In other words, in your own
language (selected quoting is fine) explain what reasons each thinker gives to prove
his claims about the problem in question.
3. Finally, by pointing out the various strengths and weaknesses of these different
thinkers arguments, argue in favor of your thesis. This will require you to articulate
your reasons for rejecting (or accepting) the different arguments given by each thinker,
"I think 'x''s position on 'y' is better than 'z''s because of the following reason...", and to
argue in support of your own interpretation of the problem. Remember that your goal
here is not merely to expound upon an opinion, but to support it with good evidence.
Remember, too, that you should anticipate possible objections to your own thesis and
offer reasons to defend your point of view.
Papers must be typed, stapled, and have clear print/typing. Papers should be in the 1,200 - 1,400 word range (roughly 5-7 single-sided pages with a 12 or 14 double-spaced font). Papers with poor spelling and/or grammar will be returned to students without a grade, and will need to be revised (with a late penalty). Papers that show evidence of original thinking and personal reflection on the material will be received favorably. You must cite all sources. MLA format is required.
It is frequently claimed that animals have no rights, while human beings do. For instance, writers like Cohen and Baxter argue that while different species and individual organisms may have instrumental value, non-humans lack the sort of intrinsic value that would give them moral standing. On the other hand, writers such as Engel, Regan, and Singer argue against the claim that animals have no rights—though they do so for very different reasons.
Do animals have rights? Why or why not? To answer these questions, write an essay in which you: 1) explain the arguments put forth by the thinkers mentioned above, 2) analyze the strengths and weaknesses of each of these arguments, and then 3) explain which thinker’s position is the most convincing and why. (If none of these arguments are convincing to you, explain you find them all unsatisfactory and, if possible, attempt to come up with your own argument to defend the claim that animal have (or do not have) rights.)
In writing this paper, make sure to make use of key concepts in ethical theory we’ve learned this semester, such as consequentialism, deontology, etc. Your paper should contain at least three (3) outside sources in addition to the writings of Cohen, Baxter, Engel, Regan, and Singer.
Some recommended library sources include
“In Defense of Animals” [Video] B5704.S554 I 52
Peter Singer. Animal Liberation HV4708 .S56 1990
Note: Students may also design their own topic in consultation with the professor. If this option is chosen, the topic must be settled upon no later than October 22nd.