Assessment item 1
Due date: 11-Apr-2014
Return date: 02-May-2014
Length: 1,000 words
Submission method options
Post (option applies to DE only)
Hand delivery (option applies to Internal only)
Select one of the four views, examined by Hursthouse, of the moral status of the human foetus, and critically examine one or more of the most important arguments for or against that view.
Further explanation of this task:
You can select any one of the four views. It may be the view you think most correct; it may be the view you think least correct; it may be something in between. You need to identify what you take to be one or more of the most important arguments either for or against that view. (It might, for instance, be an argument which is better than arguments for the other views. It might be an argument which shows why this view is unacceptable. It might be a plausible and commonly held argument, which is why it is important, but one that turns out to be a bad argument. And there are other possibilities.) You should briefly say something to explain why you’re concentrating upon that argument. Then “ and this will be the meat of your essay “ you should spell out the argument and then critically evaluate it as clearly as possible, using your own words as much as possible. (In spelling out the argument you are showing exactly what the argument is; in critically evaluating it you are showing, in detail, whether it is good or bad.) You can do this for more than one argument, if you like; but you are limited to 1,000 words. (If you wished, you could refer to other arguments that you would like also to discuss, and say why, but explain that your word limit prevents you from doing this.)
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 severe 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 what you want to say under such control that it 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 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.
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 state the argument you select, setting it out as clearly as you can, showing how it is intended to work to support its conclusion.
(2) You need to critically evaluate the argument, employing the relevant techniques to show whether and exactly how the argument is 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.)
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.