Topic Choices: Choose ONE of the following topics:

  1. Don Marquis thinks he has solved the issue of abortion, yet we are still debating the issue. What is his argument and why does it fail to convince everyone (that is, what seems to be wrong with his argument or what points does he miss)? How does his argument relate to Judith Jarvis Thomson and other accounts of the abortion debate?
  2. Thomas Aquinas developed the idea of Just War Theory as a test of the morality of any war. Can modern warfare ever be morally justified? Does modern warfare have a greater or lesser chance of justification? And does this demonstrate a failing of modern warfare or just war theory. Discuss in relation to 21st Century conflicts.
  3. Does utilitarianism lead to the conclusion that we should not eat animals or that we should? What does this debate tell us about utilitarianism as an ethical theory? You should consider a few of the following:
  • Singer, “Animal Liberation”
  • Crisp, “Utilitarianism and Vegetarianism”
  • Harrison, “Do Animals Feel Pain?”
  • Wollen, “Animals Should be Off the Menu” (


  • Length: approximately 5 double-spaced pages with normal margins (papers that are significantly shorter or longer will be penalized). Again, don’t cover too much: do a detailed, careful job on what you do take on. Take the time and space to fully explain your thinking. Some of the most common comments on student papers are “expand” and “explain”. This may mean choosing to leave out some good ideas for the sake of other ones!
  • Font: Times New Roman, 12 pnt., double spaced, standard margins
  • Your essay should NOT include a cover page, but don’t forget that the top of the first page should contain the following information: Your name, your ID number, the instructor’s name, the course number and course name, and paper title.


Plagiarism: See the Laurier website for regulations on academic and research misconduct, of which you are expected to be aware. Ignorance of policies is not an excuse for plagiarism. Your paper will be run through plagiarism software. Note that using your own work as submitted for a grade in another class is a form of plagiarism.


Checklist (marks may be deducted for failing to follow the list): 

  1. Must have a descriptive title that alerts me as to what your paper is about
  2. Must have an introduction, thesis statement, and supporting textual evidence
  3. You must cite your sources
  • When you pull a direct quote from the reading make sure to do the following. (1) Introduce the quote (who said it); (2) quote passage as it appears; (3) include page number at the end; and (4) make sure you explain why the quote is relevant.
    • For Example: Smith argues, “All cats are morally superior to all dogs” (34). Smith’s position here is evidence of his bias against canines as a result of an early childhood trauma.
    • Only indent and single-space quotes that are over 4 lines of regular text.
  • When you are talking about the arguments from one of the articles, you are paraphrasing what they have said. This is good, and most of your assignment should rely on paraphrasing (putting it into your own words) and not direct quotes. However, when you paraphrase the ideas of one of the authors you still need to identify where it came from. After you have finished paraphrasing a particular argument, include a page number.
    • For example: In Smith’s article he argues that dogs are in some sense inferior to cats, a position that is mentioned throughout his work (34-5, 38, 40).
  1. Must have a reference page with at least 2 primary philosophical references from the course readings (Narveson does not count toward the 2, but he may certainly be a third)



Sample Essay Outline:

  1. Introduction
  2. Thesis statement. It needn’t be the very first sentence, but you should not keep your reader guessing!
  3. Brief explanation of your claim. Most theses will need a little clarification so that the reader understands just what you intend to argue and why it is contentious.
  4. Outline. Next, outline your paper, step by step, so the reader knows what to expect. This outline should be a description of the structure of your paper, of what is coming up. Phrases like “First I will describe…”, “Next, I will argue…”, “We will then turn to…”, etc. are useful for making this clear. This section is best written after you have completed the body.
  5. Body
  6. Literature Review. Only include what is necessary to your argument. This includes claims you will challenge as well as arguments that might be offered in response to your own claim. This editing will be easiest once you have worked out your own argument (next section).
  7. Your argument. This is another section requiring creative and critical thought. Be sure to respond to possible counter-arguments: try to anticipate what someone who disagrees with you would say, describe the objection in detail (if not already covered), and respond. The biggest challenge will not be stating why you take your claim to be correct; it will be imagining possible objections to your argument and responding to them. This difficult task is what typically differentiates an excellent paper from a good one.
  8. Conclusion

Recap your argument, much as you outlined it in the introduction. Note what you take your paper to have shown—and also what questions you have left open, or what objections you have not had space to address.


Help with writing a philosophy paper:


Grading Criteria x/25
Content – philosophical engagement, comprehensive understanding and command of philosophical material  /10
Argument – sound, clear, original, theoretical ideas linked to thesis and appropriate philosophical sources /10


Style – paper organization, clarity, sentence level, grammar, spelling, punctuation, documentation




Deductions for formatting and submission  
Total /25

Grading Rubric:




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