Reading Responses

Write on an argument from Mill or Nozick objecting or defending Utilitarianism, these reading responses should be 500-1,000 words.

In a reading reflection, First identify one argument from one reading, not the reading as a whole. You might find it helpful to put the argument in standard form if you wish, though this is not necessarily required (it is, however, recommended).

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After you identify the target argument, you should accurately reconstruct and explain the author’s argument. This means explaining how the author justifies controversial premises, drawing from examples or thought experiments the author may use or using your own to explain it. Anywhere you quote or summarize the author, please provide the page numbers from the readings. After this section, the reader should be able to understand why one might find the argument persuasive.

Next, you should raise an objection to the argument. The objection can be your own, or one that is discuss in the other readings, lectures, or videos, or one discussed the discussion posts. However, do not deliberately plagiarize any work—put the objection in your own words. You may optionally cite outside sources in motivating or explaining your objection, but please cite these sources. Explicitly state what premise of the argument you are objecting to. Clearly state your objection and give examples or illustrations to make your objection more plausible. It is important to remember at this stage objections need to be more than “Premise X is wrong,” you should explain why it is wrong with examples and illustrations.

Next, you should try to assess the objection. How would someone who wanted to defend the author’s argument from the objection reply? Try to anticipate how this reply would work defending the premise in question and bring in clear evidence to charitably motivate this reply.

Finally, you have a choice. If you think the objection does not work, you may defend the author’s original argument and explain why the objection does not actually work. Remember, it is important not to beg the question: do not just reassert the premise, explain why the examples/illustrations/thought experiments from the objection do not work. On the other hand, if you think the objection does work, try to address one response to your objection the author might make, or one might make on the author’s behalf, and explain why this response does not work.

About 25%-40% of the response should be taken up by explaining the target argument, the rest should be spent discussing, explaining, and evaluating the objection.

Points Received
1) Presentation of Target Argument
· Has the basic structure of the target argument and its significance been properly identified and clearly explained? 15 13
· Has the evidence used to defend the target argument and its significance been accurately identified? 10 9
· Is the explanation of how this evidence works thorough and clear? 10 10
2) Objection to the Target Argument
· Does the response present a substantive and significant objection to the target argument? 15 13
· Does the objection target specific part(s) of the target argument? 5 3
· Is specific evidence given to show—and explain—why the target argument might be wrong? 15 14
3) Reply & Assessment
· Does the response explain how a defender of the target argument might reply to the objection in (2)? 5 5
· Is there a clear, substantive explanation of how this reply works? 5 5
· Is there a clear and interesting discussion of whether the objection to the target argument is ultimately successful? 5 5
4) Basic Writing Mechanics
· Does the essay use effective style, citation practices, proper grammar, etc.? Is it not significantly above or below the required length? 15 15
Total 100

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