Your second Reaction Paper is aimed at evaluating what you have learned about Ethics and Politics and how they fit together. After coming to understand the ethical theories of the thinkers we studied in the Ethics module, and the thinkers we studied in the Political Science module, you should be able to see some fundamental similarities and differences. For example, you may find that a person’s ethical or political perspective is formed by an underlying vision of human nature. That means that human nature is even more fundamental that the ethical and political theories we looked at – and may be a field in which we can connect them. In fact, you may begin to notice that, given a particular view of human nature, one will gravitate toward an ethical and political system that lines up. If one believes that people are rational and can control themselves, then they will tend to accept an ethical system that prioritizes individual development – and also a political system which allows for lots of liberty. In other words, you might find that one of the ethical theories we studied, connects with, matches or lines up with a political theory. A political theory tries to provide “what is truly good for the whole,” but must rely on an understanding “what is truly good,” or ethics, in the first place. With this in mind, react to the following prompt:
Consider the three ethical systems we studied in the course, and the three political theories. Find a natural “pair” – that is, an ethical system that leads to a corresponding political one. In other words, choose from among group A (Ethics) and group B (Political Science) to see the best example of one of group A matching one in group B.
I want to see how well you can evaluate the assigned material, so make sure that you engage the texts, quote the texts and think about them from the inside so that your connection is a well informed one. Your comparison should be based on significant aspects of the theories, not superficial ones.
DO NOT CONSULT OUTSIDE SOURCES OR MATERIAL IN THE TEXT WE HAVE NOT COVERED IN THESE TWO PARTICULAR MODULES (ETHICS AND POLITICS). Choose thinkers whom we have studied in the modules, not just anyone in the text.
Make sure to read the Rubric, the “Reaction Paper Expectation and Guidance” page from the first Module, as well as the parts of the syllabus which provide advice on how to write your paper so you get the most information you can to be as successful as you can.
As a reminder – here is the advice that the syllabus stated:
Reaction Papers: You will be asked to write short summary papers of about 3 – 5 pages in length which will test your understanding of a given topic after you have read it, been quizzed on it, and discussed it. You are therefore expected to be an “expert” on the material by the time you begin to write, and will be pulling things together on the assumption that you understand the pieces. They are thus intended to encourage you to keep thinking about and coming to understand a topic over a longer period of development. These papers will be graded on both style and content. The former will include things like how well it reads, how clear it is, and whether it is organized and structured. The latter is basically how well you engage the text. By “engaging the text” I mean that you should let the text talk for you – that is, develop your opinions from the thinker’s ideas. It is more important in this course to grapple with the ideas of the thinkers than express your own opinions. The latter is, of course, easier – but the point of this course is for you to deal with new ideas. It is great to make connections to your own perspectives, but first and foremost you want to demonstrate that you have read and understood the text. That is the major thing I am looking for – the footprint of the text in your paper. So, it is important to be able to understand the material and to express that understanding clearly. If you are not good at writing short essays, you should seek additional help. The point of my lectures is to explicate the text, and to help you to understand what you read, but do not quote them or refer to them – refer to the text in your paper. Hence, for the best grade, the papers must include references to the text (a quote a two) and must not refer to what I have said in class.
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