Instructions For Assignments
(25%) – due Wednesday of Week 6 (1200-1800 words)
Answer one of the following questions.
Do you prefer Just War theory, Political Realism, or some combination of the two? Potential sources include Orend and Walzer for Just War theory, and Hobbes, Morgenthau, and Korab-Karpowicz for Political Realism. (Unit 1-2; Unit 3, sec.1-2)
Should we take a Consequentialist or Contractarian approach to international conflict like many Political Realists? Or hold with the Just War theorists that there are Deontological constrains governing warfare? (Unit 1, sec.6-7; Unit 2, sec.1-4, 9-10)
Do you agree with Walzer’s doctrine of the Moral Equality of Soldiers? Are judgements of whether a war is fought justly in terms in jus in bello independent from whether the war has just cause in terms of jus ad bellum? Should we blame soldiers who fight for unjust causes? How does this relate to the debate between Individualist and Collectivist accounts of war? (Unit 3, sec.1-2; Unit 4, sec.7-9)
What is the most dangerous cause of war: Fear, Gain, Honour, or Ideology? You may rank them, arguing why some are more important. Or argue that some are more relevant to particular historical contexts or types of conflict. You are encouraged to discuss other causes of war that you see as important. Note that Brodie’s “Some Theories on the Causes of War” is available through course reserves. (Unit 3, sec.5-7)
Was the Area Bombing of Hamburg justified in the context of 1943? What do you take to be the strongest arguments for and against? If you write on this topic, I suggest you skip ahead and read Unit 7, sec.1-2, featuring Walzer’s discussion of Supreme Emergency and the decision to bomb German cities. (Unit 3, sec.8-9)
Defend your own view of the Right to Self-Defence and the Duty of Other Defence, drawing on theories and hypothetical cases presented, as well as your own thinking. (Unit 4, sec.2-4; Frowe, ch.1)
Argue a thesis based on the Songs About War. This could involve relating the lyrics of several songs to theories about the morality of war, comparing or criticising ideas in the songs, showing how different themes reflect different historical eras, or researching additional songs. (Unit 1, sec.1)
Write on a topic of your own choosing. Your essay must engage with course material, and it should develop and defend a position or critically assess the views of authors on a debatable issue. You are welcome to discuss your topic with me. (Units 1-4)
General Advice on Writing Philosophy Essays
I’m looking for knowledge of the relevant course material, understanding and evaluation of the arguments involved, and some original and coherent thinking. Style is relevant. This involves such things as clarity, organisation, grammar, and spelling.
The essay is a defence of your own position regarding a question of ethical significance. To give your position a worthy defence, imagine that your reader is sceptical about your conclusion but sympathetic to well formulated arguments. When arguing against a position, imagine how your opponent would reply.
Strong argumentation and originality of thought are highly valued in philosophy papers. This could involve subtle and detailed analysis of an issue, concept, or author, and it could involve comparing or connecting different ideas in order to develop your own view. Accuracy in your treatment of texts is also important.
As a reader, I want you to give me the most for the least – that is, to make lots of points, defend them adequately, back them up with appropriate attention to course material, and to do this without padding or repetition.