Essay Prompt: Using either John Stuart Mill’s or Immanuel Kant’s ethical theories, evaluate the morality of The Stouffer Foundation’s actions with regards to the 7 young men sent to the Virgina Episcopal School, as discussed in episode 625 of the This American Life podcast. In other words, tell me whether that action was morally good or bad according to the theory you picked, and tell me why it was good or bad.
Make sure you back up your evaluation of the foundation’s actions with arguments of your own, as well as evidence from the podcast and from the philosophical theory. Likewise make sure you carefully explain every philosophical concept you use in your evaluation of the foundation’s actions, and defend your understanding of those concepts by referencing the philosopher’s own writing. As a rule of thumb, between 1/3 and 1/2 of your essay should consist of explanations of the theory you are using. You can devote the first half of your essay’s body to that explanation, or you can explain each part of the theory as it comes up (use your judgment when making that decision, taking your own writing style into account). In addition you may, if you’d like, evaluate the morality of one or more actions by (one or more of) the young men sent to V.E.S., according to the same ethical
theory you used to evaluate the foundation’s actions. You may also use Susan Wolf’s text here, if you find it helpful.
● Only use one of the ethical theories we have covered so far. Do not attempt
to write about both Kant and Mill.
● Explain the pertinent parts of the ethical theory you are using.
● Use only the information given in the assigned texts and podcast. Do
not do outside research! The objective of this paper is to evaluate how well
youhave understood the assigned philosophical texts, and how well you can
apply the theory of your choice given a set amount of information about a
case. You cannot do this by “looking things up.” Use of outside sources is
● If you do turn to outside sources (even though doing so is not permitted) you
must include them in your bibliography. And if you borrow someone else’s
ideas (including their understanding of a theory), you must cite it. Not doing
so is plagiarism, and will result in a “zero” for this assignment (or worse
— see plagiarism policy in the syllabus).
● Cite every quote and every paraphrase you use. If you do not know what
the difference between a quote and a paraphrase is, look it up or ask!
● Although it should go without saying, you are not allowed to copy or quote
passages from the lecture notes. Those notes are given to help you
understand the assigned texts, but your papers should only reference the
original texts themselves. Lecture notes do not need to be added to your
● Late work will be penalized by 10 points per day, starting immediately
after the deadline (e.g. work submitted any time on October 8th will lose 10
points, work submitted any time on October 9th will lose 20 points, etc.)
● Your paper must be uploaded as Word document (doc or docx) or a PDF
file. Documents in other formats (such as MS Works, or Apple’s Pages) will
not be accepted for credit. Also, make sure your file has uploaded
successfully. If I am unable to open your essay because the file is
“corrupted”, the essay will not be accepted, and your re-submission
may be deducted points for being late.
● The paper must be 1300-2000 words in length.
● The font used must be Times New Roman, size 12.
● The essay must be double spaced, with margins of 1 inch or less.
● The paper should be properly cited, listing author and page number in a
parenthesis or footnote, e.g. (Lessing 99), not (Lessing 2015), and must
include complete and properly formatted bibliography page (following
the MLA format or the Chicago Manual of Style).
This is the link to the podcast:
https://www.thisamericanlife.org/625/essay-b (Links to an external site.)
This is how to cite the podcast:
In text citations:
When quoting or paraphrasing the podcast in your papers and posts, you must provide
an in-text citation (typically in parenthesis at the end of the sentence, before the period).
Take, for instance, the following passage (which refers to a different episode of the
same podcast series):
Charlie Todd, the leader of Improv Everywhere, says that he doesn’t
like to use the word “prank”, because that word “always has that
negative connotation of in order for there to be a prank, there has
to be a victim, somebody who has been fooled and has been embarrassed
or humiliated or had the best of” (“Mind Games” 00:12:50 – 00:13:09).
Todd argues that his missions, unlike pranks, aim to make people
happy (00:13:10 – 00:13:15).
Note that instead of a page number, you have to provide the timestamp of the passage
you are citing, as hour:minute:seconds. Note also that the second sentence is cited,
even though no quotes are given. That’s because that sentence is a paraphrase: I
have taken someone else’s ideas and put them in my own words, so I need to cite
it just as I would a quote.
In your papers, you will also have to provide a bibliography page (a list of all sources
you consulted while writing your paper). The bibliography entry for the podcast
assigned to you should look like this:
“Essay B.” This American Life from WBEZ, 8 September 2017,
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