Detailed Guidelines for Independent Study Response Paper #3

Detailed Guidelines for Independent Study Response Paper #3

DUE DATE: July 16 (minus 10 points for every day that it is late)

Response Paper #3 is a guided position paper that assumes having read/studied at least two articles emailed to you—as representing opposite sides of the debate. The two articles were the basis for Response paper #1 and #2. This paper will have your own voice more fully; you may lean towards one of two articles you worked on, lean towards neither, or combine strong points from each side. You may make your own contributions to the debate (something that you think is important but was not given enough attention). Maybe you want to add more legal restrictions to existing legal restrictions in abortion or same-sex-marriage or euthanasia, for example?


The paper should be typewritten, double spaced, in Times New Roman, size 12 font, 2-3 pages in length, and with ‘normal’ margins. It is due in class on June 20 (for Sections WA and ND / Monday and Wednesday classes) and May 21 for (Section NN, Thursday class). It must use in-text citations (direct quotations and/or paraphrased materials) that follow MLA conventions, at least for the two paragraphs where summaries are required (see #4 below). The paper must be spellchecked and proofread for grammatical and punctuation errors. (This is a College paper!) Review Rubrics…in ‘General Guidelines… for common grammatical and punctuation errors. It will not have unnecessary space-fillers! (Specified in “General Guidelines….)


1) Have a cover page that follows the required format in the first two response papers.

2) Page 1 is the first page after the cover page. Have a clear title that contains/suggests your position. (You can use a catchy phrase, but it should make your position clear to any reader.)

3) Write an introductory paragraph that introduces the issue/ debate (it could be factual updates and and/or where law or public policy stands in relation to the issue or how debates on the issue affect current politics). Introduce also the authors you were required to follow.

4) In the next two paragraphs (at least! A little more than two is ok), summarize without judgment the position and argument of the authors you’ve read: For example: Author X argues for the morality of Y (abortion, euthanasia, same-sex marriage?) and supports legalizing Y or keeping Y legal. Author Y argues for the immorality of Y and does not support legalizing Y or keeping Y legal. Or author X argues for helping the global poor or for promoting animal rights. Do not forget to lay out the author’s reasons and evidences for their positions. This could be explicit in the article or inferred by you from the article. Anchor these in the text by providing pages (in-text citations!)

5) Then state your position plus your reason and evidences. Feel free to lean towards one or to question both authors and add your own or to find yourself with reservations about both or questions for both. What matters here are your reasons – how you are thinking out or thinking through the matter. You can do a more neutral critical evaluation that brings out strengths and weaknesses in both authors, if that’s where you are now.

6) If you lean towards one side, address the strongest objections to it, from the opposing side. You don’t have to answer this question if you did an evaluation of strengths and weaknesses of both sides. But do mention what kinds of evidence you would want to have or check into that would tip the scales to one of the two sides.

7) What have you gained from following two voices from different sides of the debate. (Learnings? Realizations? Insights?)

A. Required Source: You must summarize only the articles emailed to you. If you are including critical comments on a religion or about religious positions, what you say should be guided by a sophisticated enough understanding of ‘religion’—one informed by our discussion of Chapter 2 and not just by any pet opinion or personal bias or prejudice. Also, if utilitarian ethics, natural law, deontological ethics, virtue ethics is brought up in the articles, your paper must now reflect understanding of these topics as discussed in class.

Below is the grading rubric that I use. To make it obvious that it corresponds to this detailed guideline, I added in boldfaced font the letter and number in the detailed guide that each item below corresponds to.

The following table begins to apply only if no section of the assignment is plagiarized or if all direct quotes and paraphrased materials are properly cited. Students may be required by the instructor to write out answers to a number of questions or asked to defend the content of their paper if suspected of plagiarism.)

Category Description Point Value Earned Points
Understanding of the Assignment.

Paper fulfills requirements of the assignment as specified in the writing guide.

Good objective summary of the position and argument read/studied. B#4 5
Effort to lay out, analyze, and evaluate position and argument of the author read. B #5 and #6 5
Effort to support analysis and evaluation made with in-text citations. B #5 5
No unnecessary and irrelevant ‘space-fillers.’(General Guidelines…) 5
Understanding of the Thinker/Thought/Position


Deductions for missing key points and /or understanding inaccurately.

Deductions for promising ideas that are not explained fully.

Shows accurate and charitable reading of the thinker (No strawman fallacycommitted!) 10
Quotes are chosen well and explained clearly and fully. (Anyone would be enlightened about the thinker’s position!) 10
Ideas are fully developed (e.g. supported by examples that work!) 10
Analysis and Evaluation of the thinker’s position Ability to check for validity of the argument. (Does the conclusion follow necessarily from the premises. Is reasoning faulty in any way?) B#5

Ability to test premises. (Are all premises justifiably true? What seems assumed or is implicit but not state in the argument? For example, what is assumed or implied about what the human is and what the human ought to be or do? Can this assumption be questioned? How? What is assumed or implied about what is ‘true’? Can this be challenged? How? Are the factual claims in the argument sufficiently supported and convincing? If not, what needs further investigation so that the argument would be more convincing B#5 and #6

Ability to connect with the issue . What significance does this have for you. Why is this worth pausing over and thinking through. (First or last paragraph of the paper>) B #3 and #8 10
Ability to bring in concepts learned in the course at the time the paper is submittedC 10

Writes in complete sentences all throughout the paper, no run-ons, observes subject-verb agreement, uses a consistent voice, pronouns have clear referents, commas and semicolons are used correctly, rules for capitalization are observed, has no spelling errors (this especially includes proper names!).

MLA citation style

Shows effort to proofread and hand in a College paper; evidence of being checked for grammar, punctuation, spelling errors A 10
Adheres to required spacing, margins, MLA citation d style (No need for MLA page heading and page format.) A and B #1 and 2 10

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