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The Research Essay: Students are required to develop a 6 TO 8 PAGE investigative essay on the following topic:


Chosen Topic: Sex selection (and other genetic manipulations). What limits, if any, should be placed on the ability of prospective parents to guide or alter the genetic makeup of their offspring?


The final research paper applies ethical theories studied in class to a concrete biomedical issue in our contemporary world. Here are some of the theories that qualify for the project: natural law theory, social contract theory, utilitarianism, Kantianism (deontology), and virtue theory. 


Drawing upon those theories, the student will prepare a written (6 to 8 page typed MLA or CMS-style pages) paper that addresses these current moral problems. Of particular importance is the student’s ability to use ethical reasoning to formulate reflective positions on some of the more pressing moral problems in contemporary society. Papers without this element tend to score at best a low B or C. The paper is graded for the following sections:


I. Composition (15 points): Paper written well with attention to syntax, clear thesis statement,

consistent paragraphing and proper citations style.

II. History of topic (15 points): set the context for the moral issue from 1960 onward. Do

NOT go back earlier without checking with the instructor first.

III. Pro/Con (20 points): what are the conflicting sides around the issue? Please note: using

only websites like procon.org to set up this issue generally reduces the grade in this section.

Look for journal and newspaper articles that summarize the positions. These are better and

more nuanced treatments of the conflicting sides.

IV. Application of ethical theories (30 points): I am looking for TWO treatments of the issue

from two ethical approaches studied during the term. These should be in depth because this

section is worth thirty points.

V. Personal Conclusion (20 points): In this last section argue for your personal analysis and

thoughts on the issue. Make sure this section receives the treatment and development it



Here is the rubric you will receive with your final paper:

15/15: Composition: Is paper written well with attention to syntax, grammar, clear thesis statement, consistent paragraphing and proper citations style or are there recurring problems with any of these?

15/15: History of topic: Does paper develop historical context for the moral issue from 1960 onward in a clear and chronologically coherent manner or does the paper fall short of doing this in specific ways?

20/20: Pro versus Con: Does paper spell out clearly conflicting sides of the issue or does it only show one side or is it entirely missing a pro/con section?

30/30: Application of ethical theories: Does author treat issue with two ethical approaches studied

during the term in depth (or analyzes the issue with unusual and sustained depth from the standpoint of one theory)?

20/20: Personal Conclusion: Does author develop a concluding personal analysis that expresses their standpoint on the subject in a thorough and clear way or does it sum up the issue superficially or is the paper missing a genuine personal conclusion?