This task concerns Hursthouse’s discussion of the moral status of the foetus. It refers to the views and arguments that she discusses, and to the discussion
of those views and arguments in the Study Guide. Having studied those discussions, you are to write an essay on either (1) or (2), below, (but not on both):
1. What, if anything, do the consequences of the conservative view show about whether that view is true?
2. Critically examine the argument presented by Hursthouse for the extreme liberal view.
Further explanation of this task:
You need to study the whole of Hursthouse’s discussion of the moral status of the foetus, and the whole of the Study Guide examination of this discussion.
But then you need to identify the particular portions of those materials that are relevant to the topic you select (either (1) or (2) above). Your own discussion
should show that you clearly understand the discussion in the subject materials, and it should show that you are critically evaluating that discussion
(assessing which parts of it are good and which parts of it are bad).
I will expect you to show that you have mastered the relevant materials in the Readings and Study Guide. You may have further thoughts of your own to add
to what’s in those materials – which would be very good! But it won’t matter if you don’t have your own different thoughts, so long as I can see that you have
mastered the discussion in the study materials and that you are thinking critically about it yourself.
1,000 words is a difficult word limit. That is to say, if you have done the relevant work then it will be very difficult to say within 1,000 words all that you wish
to say. You will need to give yourself enough time to get the most important parts of what you want to say under such control that they can be said within
1,000 words. Don’t waste words on flowery introductions or conclusions or what not. Get straight into your discussion as directly and clearly as you can.
The essay allows you to display your grasp of the philosophical discussion of the relevant topic. It requires you to show that you understand this discussion,
and that you can critically assess it. (Note that this task is directed to the first and third of the learning outcomes for this subject – i.e. it is designed to assist
you to demonstrate your grasp of those basic philosophical techniques of analysis and argument that you are learning, and to assist you to demonstrate that
you can apply those skills to the clarification and resolution of the particular moral problems being considered.)
This task involves a number of distinct elements. (These elements are sometimes referred to as marking criteria, for your task will be marked according to
how well these elements of the task are performed.) They include the following:
(1) You need to show that you understand the relevant material in the study materials.
(2) You need to critically evaluate the relevant discussion in the study materials, employing the relevant techniques to show whether and exactly how the
arguments in that discussion are good or bad.
(3) You need to present your essay in a well organised discussion written in good clear English.
Overall, you need to do your best to show that you have mastered the relevant discussion in the study materials, and that you are thinking about it critically
yourself. This includes your showing that you understand the wider discussion so that you can properly distinguish what is relevant from what is irrelevant to
the particular argument you select for discussion. (You will do this by not discussing what is irrelevant. Or, if you do need to mention some irrelevant
material, you will point out that it is irrelevant and perhaps explain why it is.) And because the best way to show your understanding is to show that you can
enable someone else to understand that matter, we will be assessing how well your essay would give an uninformed reader a clear grasp of the discussion.
(Because of the severe word limit, you may find that you cannot present your discussion as fully as you would wish if you were writing in order to make it
completely clear for a genuinely uninformed reader. Nevertheless, you should regard this as what you should aim at as much as possible – especially in
those parts of the discussion that are most difficult or most important.)
The performance of the task will be graded according to the following marking scheme:
HD High Distinction (85-100%)
Each of the elements 1,2 and 3 (above) has been performed outstandingly well. You have thoroughly mastered the relevant discussion in the study
materials, and can present it very clearly yourself, demonstrating that you are thinking about it with some sophisticated critical independence.
DI Distinction (75-84%)
Overall the task has been performed very well, but one or more of elements 1, 2 and 3 has not been performed outstandingly well. You display a good, solid
grasp of the relevant discussion, and the ability to think about it with some real critical independence. But, for example, though you have mastered the
statement and critical examination of the argument, your writing could be improved. Or, though your essay is beautifully written, your critical evaluation
could be extended, or refined, or polished further. And so on.
CR Credit (65-74%)
Overall the task has been performed creditably, but one or more of elements 1, 2 and 3 could be considerably improved. You show a fairly good grasp of the
relevant discussion, and a fairly good attempt to assess it with critical independence. But, for example, though the meat of your discussion is good, your
writing could be considerably improved. Or, your critical evaluation of the relevant argument could be substantially extended, or refined. And so on.
PS Pass (50-64%)
Overall the task has been performed satisfactorily, but not better than satisfactorily. You show an adequate grasp of the relevant discussion, but one or
more of elements 1, 2 and 3 could be substantially improved. For example, your writing, though intelligible, needs to be considerably improved. Or your
presentation or critical evaluation of the relevant argument could be substantially improved through a clearer or less confused grasp of the material, or
through a clearer application of the techniques of the analysis of argument, or by being extended to include omitted points. And so on.
FL Fail (0-49%)
Overall the task has been performed unsatisfactorily. One or more of elements 1, 2 and 3 has been performed so unsatisfactorily that, however well the
other elements have been performed, the essay is inadequate. For example, your writing is too far below the required standard. Or though you display
some understanding of the material, your essay shows serious confusions. Or you have omitted major points. And so on.
NB The feedback provided on your essay will show in detail why your essay is assessed as deserving the grade as described in the scheme above.
It is perfectly acceptable to write in the first person. This is often the most sensible way to take your reader through a philosophical discussion.
Your essay should be in word-processed form.
In preparing the essay you should:
a) number each page;
b) leave a margin of at least three centimetres;
c) use double spacing between the lines of your text;
d) only use quotations that are relevant to a point; a short essay should include few, if any, lengthy quotations;
e) indent quotations that involve more than one sentence;
f) underline or italicise titles of books;
g) enclose titles of articles (or short stories or short poems) in quotations marks;
h) not enclose indented quotations in quotation marks;
i) not include quotations when estimating essay length.
All sources consulted in the preparation of an essay should be cited. (See under Referencing, below, and ensure that you have understood University
policies on plagiarism and on academic conduct, referred to elsewhere in this Subject Outline.)
Make sure that you keep a copy of the essay for yourself.
For the essays in this subject, you don’t need to use or refer to anything other than the relevant portions of the study materials. I need to see that you have
mastered those materials. (You are allowed to make reference to other sources, but you don’t need to, and you certainly shouldn’t do so unless it’s relevant
to your examination of the discussion you have selected from the study materials – as prescribed by the instructions.)
You may not need to use any formal references at all in your essay. (In Philosophy, we certainly don’t apply the neurotic requirement that you provide six or
so references.) You will only need to use a reference if there’s something you quote, or some place where you need to show your reader precisely where
the source of what you’re writing is – that is to say, where it is in Hursthouse’s text, for instance – and you won’t need to do this if you’re simply referring to
Hursthouse’s discussion in a way that makes it easy for the reader to check that you’re referring to her discussion accurately. If you’re deriving material from
the Study Guide (as I certainly hope you’ll be doing) then you don’t need to refer to it. But it’s all right to do so if you wish. If you do need to use references,
then you may do so in any proper style, including the APA style. But whatever style of referencing you use, you should use it accurately and consistently.
But having said that you’re permitted to use any style of referencing, let me tell you that I prefer that you don’t use the APA style (which requires you to
litter your text with square brackets). I prefer that you use numbers in your text, and notes with those numbers at the end of the text (endnotes) or at the
foot of the text (footnotes).