Human Vs Artificial Intelligence

HZT4U – Philosophy ISU
(15% of final mark):

Thesis Based Research Paper
Related to an Issue of Contemporary Ethical Concern

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Thesis Based Research Paper

For your summative you will have an opportunity to conduct an in-depth inquiry into an independent research topic selected from an array of issues/topics of contemporary ethical concern.  The purpose of this in-depth research will be to formulate a thesis about your topic and then produce a 2,000 word argumentative essay to support your position..  This essay should follow the proper writing conventions of research and documentation as emphasized throughout the academic year.  Your investigation should be organized and demonstrate critical thinking skills and an analysis of a range of sources, including the works of philosophers who have pondered similar, if not the same issues.  The essay must be APA formatted; formal (although “I” may be used), typed size 12 font, Times New Roman.

There will be several landmarks during your writing process. You will create a folder in your google-drive that you will share with me, where you will keep all your work for the ISU.

a) Topic Selection                    Due Date:

  1. b) Thesis Proposal Due Date:
  2. c) Annotated Bibliography Due Date:
  3. d) Essay Draft Outline Due Date:
    e) The Essay Due Date:

    Each one of the above needs to be submitted to your teacher on the above indicated dates.

Please insure that you go through the following checklist before submission of the final copy.

  • The Final Copy includes a Title Page, Body, Works Cited, Proper Citations (APA Format)
  • There are no spelling or grammatical errors
  • Title Page: Catchy Title, Your Name, Course, Teacher’s Name (No folders please)
  • The Essay is double spaced and within the limit, word count is included.
  • Bibliography references a minimum of 6 academic sources
    • All sources must be from books, peer-reviewed articles/publications


General APA: Formatting & Referencing –


Good research databases to start with:






HZT4U – Summative Topic List (These are ideas, you are not limited to these)

  • Welfare and charity. Welfare is organized charity, funneled through the collective, the government. But it raises many issues. How should we help others who are less fortunate? Can we differentiate between the “deserving poor” and the “undeserving” poor?
  • Addictive Substances: Alcohol, drugs, tobacco… Should we consider addiction a “disease”? What does that mean in terms of the role of the alcoholic or other drug abuser? Should we collectively pay for drug treatment? If they enter rehab and relapse, should they be taken back? How many times? How much should addiction be considered a mitigating circumstance from some associated misbehavior or crime?
  • Assisted Suicide:Should assisted suicide be allowed? What about those who can’t even decide? Should euthanasia be allowed in any circumstances?
  • Parenthood: Is there a “right” to parenthood? Should we support anyone who wants to be a parent in this activity?  What if they are thought to be “unfit”? What makes a person “unfit” as a parent? (This is related to the next topic of abuse.)  How much attention does a child really need? How nice must the housing be? The neighborhood? What if a parent cannot protect a child from the bullying of other children? What about conditions for adopting babies?
  • Animal Rights: What rights should animals have? Our sensitivity to other peoples, minorities, etc. continue to expand. We’re less tolerant of rank cruelty. What about intermediate conditions, excessive constraints in raising livestock, for instance? Animal laboratory testing? Supervision and regulation of animal farms, e.g., dog-raising kennels?
  • Heroic Medicine: How “sacred” is life itself? How heroic are we obligated to be in near-terminal conditions?  Just because science can do something, it raises the question whether it should be done. Should we begin to consider rationing health care for the very old, those with senility? Again, a disproportionate amount of money is being spent for near-heroic procedures for those whose prognosis is guarded. What about liver transplants for alcoholics, drug abusers with Hepatitis C, etc? Expensive AIDS treatment for those whose lives were reckless? Lung transplants or other heroic treatments for inveterate smokers? Rehab, surgery, etc. for victims of reckless driving and motorcycling without helmets? Or should healthcare attempt to be blind and non-judgmental as to the source of illness function?
  • Safety Standards: What standards of safety do we wish to set? Is there a “right” to be protected even from our own foolishness? Should government get out of the business of telling people what substances they can or can not put into their bodies?  Is there a moral difference between “legalization” and “decriminalization”?
  • What obligations do we have to the environment? To what extent must we go to preserve species of animals or plants? How much intervention in foreign affairs is ethical in the service of “saving” forests, whales, various other ecological systems?
  • Governmental Corruption:Should corruption in politics be dealt with more severely? What kinds of ethical standards are appropriate for those in greater power, in government or business?
  • Rehabilitation of Criminals: What kinds of efforts should we make to rehabilitate prisoners?
    Is there an obligation to differentiate between violent and nonviolent crimes? Regarding “cruel and unusual punishments,” what rights should prisoners have? To what degree should criminals be supported in the right to appeal? (What if they are in fact innocent?) Is there a moral justification for capital punishment, also known as institutional murder? How many chances should people be given for various problematic behaviors? What about obligations for restitution to the victims of crime?
  • Population Control:Is it ethical for a country/community to take steps to control population growth?
  • Medical Care: Is medical care a “right”? What is the moral problem of demanding medical care for all? What would the cost be? What kinds of mental health care, psychotherapy, is appropriate for coverage by the collective, and what kinds are not appropriate? What about substance abuse treatment?
  • Immigration:How much should a society extend itself for immigrants? Should we have bilingual education? What levels of immigration should the better-off countries permit, and what restrictions are permissible?
  • Support for the Gifted: What obligations should the collective take on to foster talent, the gifted?
  • Affirmative action:Should extra weight be given anyone because of that person’s belonging to a group that has been considered “disadvantaged.” Should there be any communal or governmental policies that “level the playing field”?
  • Freedom of speech: What are its proper boundaries? Should it extend to include hate speech? To what degree? Now that the internet is available, what kinds of censorship is permissible?
  • Gambling: Should there be any restriction of gambling? Is it a form of freedom, or an invitation to addiction?
  • Prostitution: What about legalizing or regulating prostitution? Is it always a degradation of women, a form of subtle oppression? What if some women who claim to enjoy this way of making a lot of money are not deceiving themselves? If it isn’t a problem for consenting partners, is it a moral or ethical issue?
  • Privacy Rights: Are the rights to privacy diminished by the demand for drug testing for various schools, jobs, etc.? Should the type of employment have to justify its reason for demanding drug testing? Why couldn’t a person use drugs on their days off? What about medical privacy in a world of managed care?
  • Grade Inflation: What is the obligation of the teacher, administrators, and general society (parents, media)  to fight against pressures for grade inflation? Are there circumstances in which a child who has failed to perform should be flunked, retained, not passed along? When? Should kids be passed in the service of self-esteem? Other reasons? At what ages should these policies be looser or tighter?
    Is expulsion ever justified? Where should the child go? What responsibility does the community school system take for severely obstreperous kids?
  • Privacy: What are the appropriate limits of privacy?  Is it unethical to break a confidence if the behavior that is known involves something really destructive to the person or others–e.g., suicide or murder? What about self-mutilation, cutting; or driving while intoxicated? Should there be more boundaries on group pressures for intimacy: What about church ministers who encourage people to hug each other? In groups, being encouraged to disclose more about one’s life than is comfortable. (This could apply to this class, or various other leadership/club/team experiences)
  • International Obligations: Are wealthier nations obliged to help other nations or governments, not just with humanitarian aid, but with military aid, or even more, are we obliged to intervene if those governments institute or enable or condone massive human rights abuses? What if the governments collapse in civil war? Or become chaotic and ineffective? Or allow or encourage genocide (“ethnic cleansing”)?
  • Degrees of Wealth: Should a distinction be made between those who earn moderately more than the average and those whose income is hundreds or thousands of times greater than those who earn a minimum wage? Should there be a steeply graduated income tax or inheritance tax so as to reduce this discrepancy? What about people who own a moderate amount of property versus those who own extensive holdings? Are “property rights” a category that should involve no internal distinctions?
  • Copyrights and Copywrongs: Copyrights exist so that a person who creates a new work (song, picture, story, etc.) can derive some profit from it. After a period of time, the rights to the work are supposed to go to the public (public domain) so that everyone can benefit from it and to encourage people to produce new works. At least, that was the situation until large corporations entered the picture. What are the ethical considerations of copyright infringement in the modern day?
  • Ethics of Reality TV: Media seem to have “discovered” that so-called “reality” shows are very profitable, resulting in a growing string of such shows in recent years. Although not all are successful, many do achieve significant popularity and cultural prominence. That does not mean, however, that they are good for society or that they should be aired.
  • Historical Artifacts: Should museum artifacts, be repatriated to their country of origin? Should the conditions under which they were taken be factored in this decision?
  • Online Crime and Social Media: In the wake of the recent deaths of Amanda Todd and Rehtaeh Parsons there are growing concerns about the impacts of social media and bullying upon youth. Does a moral code of online conduct need to be established or regulated by local authorities and institutions? Where (if in fact you believe this) is society going wrong?
  • Remembrance Day: Do ceremonial events in remembrance to those lost in war have to be concerned about the ethical impacts of glorifying war? In multi-cultural countries like Canada, how do our ceremonies of “remembrance” sit with diverse ethnic groups, especially those who were not aligned with Canada?
  • The ethics of photojournalism: when is just observing tragedy morally irresponsible?
  • Artificial vs Human intelligence: What is the difference? Should we make A.I?
  • Was Jesus a Pacifist? Reevaluating Just War Theory
  • High School Diploma: Should High School Education be Mandatory?
  • Professional Sports: What does Professional Sports contribute to Society?
  • In Vitro?:The Ethics of In Vitro Fertilization and “unused” cells
  • Applied technology: Should technological enhancements be allowed in athletic competition?
  • Anthropology: are humans first people who know or people who love?
  • How far should we go with incorporating technology/implants into human body?
  • College Sport: Should collegiate athletes be paid? How does business effect sport/playing of athletics?
  • Prolife/Prochoice
  • Humane Medical research
  • Drone Warfare
  • Buying and selling of organs for transplant- should it be legal? Is it ethical?
  • Violence and Sport: Should violence be condoned? (ie. fighting, contact sports)










































Philosophy Research Essay Rubric


Criteria Level 4 Level 3 Level 2 Level 1
Knowledge of research topic -demonstrates thorough knowledge and understanding of research topic -demonstrates considerable knowledge and understanding of research topic -demonstrates some knowledge and understanding of research topic -demonstrates limited knowledge and understanding of research topic
Use of philosophical evidence


-provides exceptional philosophical evidence to support arguments -provides considerable philosophical evidence to support arguments -provides some philosophical evidence to support arguments -provides limited philosophical evidence to support arguments
Ability to interpret and evaluate information gathered through research – interprets and evaluates information gathered with a high degree of effectiveness – interprets and evaluates information gathered with considerable effectiveness – interprets and evaluates information gathered

with some effectiveness

– interprets and evaluates information gathered

with limited effectiveness

Effective employment of research and inquiry skills -employs research and inquiry skills with a high degree of effectiveness – employs research and inquiry skills with considerable effectiveness – employs research and inquiry skills with some effectiveness – employs research and inquiry skills with limited effectiveness
Use of critical and creative thinking skills



– uses critical and creative thinking skills with a high degree of effectiveness – uses critical and creative thinking skills with considerable effectiveness – uses critical and creative thinking skills with some effectiveness – uses critical and creative thinking skills with limited effectiveness
Forming connections and conclusions -forms insightful connections and conclusions -forms logical connections and conclusions -forms flawed connections and conclusions -forms illogical connections and conclusions
Communication of information and ideas (through logical organization, use of transitions) -communicates information and ideas with a high degree of clarity and confidence


-communicates information and ideas with considerable clarity


-communicates information and ideas with some clarity


-communicates information and ideas with limited clarity


Sense of audience and purpose (choice of language, style of writing) – communicates with strong sense of audience and purpose – communicates with a clear sense of audience and purpose – communicates with some  sense of audience and purpose -communicates with limited sense of audience and purpose
Use of conventions, vocabulary & terminology in written form -uses conventions, vocabulary,

& terminology with a high degree of effectiveness

-uses conventions, vocabulary,

& terminology with considerable effectiveness


-uses conventions, vocabulary,

& terminology with some effectiveness

-uses conventions, vocabulary,

& terminology with limited effectiveness

Making connections between philosophical theories and arguments -makes connections with a high degree of effectiveness -makes connections with considerable effectiveness -makes connections between with some effectiveness -makes connections with a limited effectiveness
Use of the analytic essay style and format -demonstrates thorough understanding of the analytic essay and format -demonstrates considerable understanding of the analytic essay style/format -demonstrates some understanding of the analytic essay and format -demonstrates limited understanding of the analytic essay and format
Demonstration of ability to document sources accurately in APA format – documents sources in APA  format with a high degree of effectiveness – documents sources in APA format with considerable effectiveness – documents sources in APA format with some effectiveness – documents sources in APA format with limited effectiveness




ISU Project Schedule & Steps


The essay is worth 15% of your final grade.

Each ‘check-in’ or ‘step’ has a certain amount of marks allotted. For every day that section is late, 1 mark is lost. There are a total of 20 marks for just following the steps of this ISU! The Final Essay is worth 80 marks.


Due Date Step in the Process


Point Value
  Topic Development:

Create a document in your google-folder identifies what your chosen topic is (you don’t have to know what you are arguing yet)

2 marks allotted
  Thesis Proposal:

Identify a working thesis for your ISU topic (just because you write one now, doesn’t mean it could still change)

3 marks allotted
  Annotated Bibliography

While doing your research, you should keep track of the sources that seem to be valuable to your topic choice.  This is the bibliography part.  The annotation is the paragraph that coordinates to each source, noting each of the following: (see handout)

□    Summary of the source’s information

□    What you deem valuable for your project

□    Whether you believe the source to be reputable

□    Why you are(n’t) using this source


5 marks allotted
  Development of an Outline:

You are expected to develop a thorough outline; one-word “points” will not suffice. You may be given class-time to work on your outline or complete research, but do not expect this to happen.  You will be given notice.


5 marks allotted
  Conference on Progress:

This is where you sit down with me and we walk through your ideas so far, looking at your thesis, research, and outline (all of which should be completed by now).

We will look at the following together:

1)       Your further refinement of your thesis and outline

2)       Your annotated bibliography and any additional sources you may have found

3)       Your rough notes, which may be either hand-written or printed out;

4)       Whatever sections of the essay you’ve written so far (ideally, the intro)

We will lastly talk about a completion schedule and whether you’re on track to complete the project on time.


5 marks allotted
  Final Essay:

Your final, polished copy of your ISU Essay is due!

*If the essay is late, a 10% deduction will apply*

80 marks allotted


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