Form for Position Papers
1. In narrative form, describe the situation. Be factual, thorough and neutral.
For example: Obregon and Hermosillo are fighting over access to the water in a reservoir behind the Nuvio Dam. Agricultural interests in Orbregon, maintain that the need the water for their crops, while the government in Hermosillo says the city cannot grow without access to additional water. Indigenous persons from the Yaqui claim also that the water, some of which is on tribal lands, belongs to them, and they have been blockading roads to stop all traffic from reaching Hermosillo as a means of protesting the water issue.
Sections 2,3, 4 and 5 constitute your negative argument.
2. What ethical issue do you think is involved? For example, not all events have a clear ethical component.
NOTE: In general, you are likely looking for “harm” as an element. Is/would someone/something harmed by the actions of another? While “no harm, no foul,” is sometimes a dangerous oversimplification, if you cannot identify a victim, then perhaps the action is aethical. As you can see, your own ethical view of the world, and what you think constitutes harm, will determine whether you see an ethical problem, or not.
For example: When you decide what to wear to class today, that is likely not a decision with an overtly ethical dimension. On the other hand, if the clothing is made by exploited child labor that was purchased by an American retailer for resale, and you bought the shirt because it was cheaper than one made by adults paid a living wage and receiving health benefits, then perhaps there is an ethical element. Or, perhaps killing an animal to use its skin to make shoes strikes you as an ethical problem. Or perhaps you are concerned that one-half of the world’s population must survive on less than two dollars per day, and so ponder whether the cost of your clothing is excessive and deprived someone else.
3. Identify each stakeholder in the issue, and state the position of each stakeholder.
For example: “The Yaqui, agricultural interests in Orbregon, the government of Sonora, citizens in Obregon, …” Remember to state the position of each. The position might involve an explicit claim(s), or an implicit claim(s), perhaps suppressed in a more-general claim.
4. (a) What evidence does each stakeholder offer, and (b) what is the quality of that evidence? This will likely require some digging. Be sure you are critically evaluating the sources of the evidence. For example: Is the intent of the website to be neutral, or has it been created to put forth a specific position? Who controls the website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram… or information flow to the Internet?
For example: the British Broadcasting Corp. has over time exhibited a commitment to generally unbiased reporting of epistemically verifiable information. Wikipedia, Reddit, or The Huffington Post might be viewed with more caution. Better yet, look at all of these sources. If you decide to use information from an overtly partisan source, seek to balance this with information from other partisan sources. Remember, too, that eye-witness accounts do not necessarily guarantee accuracy.
5. Is there a reasoning fallacy (either formal or informal) present in the position of any stakeholder? If so, identify it and be clear about why some conclusion involves faulty reasoning.
NOTE: This is generally pretty easy if you use the list of common fallacies as check-off list. At this point in your studies, I would concentrate on the informal fallacies such as hasty generalization, straw man, and so on.
Section 6 constitutes your positive argument.
6. Pick a school of ethical thought, and applying the tenets of that school, say what action should be taken that is consistent with the school of thought you have selected.
Note: Make direct reference to your textbook, or to your class notes, when describing the ethical school of thought. Be formal in your use of references, employing MLA or APA or some other commonly used citation style. If you are referring to your class notes, or to a Power Point I’ve shared, follow your citation style to note this.
NB: Please put your name on the assignment.