Instructions for First Writing Assignment: A Critical Essay

PHIL 1100: Ethics
In class, write an essay in which you criticize two or three ideas in any one of the excerpts from
the following found in the textbook or other assigned reading:
• The Summa Theologica by Thomas Aquinas
• On the Duty of civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau
• Euthyphro by Plato
• The Book of Healing by Avicenna
• “The Neglected Duty” by Muhammad Al-Salam Faraj
Purposes of the Assignment: To provide students with an opportunity to
1. Criticize philosophical thinking.
2. Apply ethical concepts to the real world.
Approach to Constructing Body Paragraphs
1. From your selected writing, choose two or three quotes of reasonable length that express
philosophical ideas that are essential to his or her theory.
2. Write a topic sentence that indicates your critical response and introduces and includes
one of your chosen quotes. The sentence should include the author’s last name and
parenthetical documentation. Use one of the following words to indicate your critical
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a. agree
b. disagree
c. works
d. doesn’t work
e. weak
f. strong
g. illogical
h. logical
i. clear
j. unclear
k. unrealistic
l. realistic
m. relevant
n. irrelevant
o. accurate
p. inaccurate
q. sound
r. unsound
s. valid
t. invalid
u. complete
v. incomplete
w. reasonable
x. unreasonable
Here is an example of a strong topic sentence : Mill’s idea that “[it is better to be]
Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied” (1873/2005).
3. Develop your critical response to each idea through the use of (1) a specific example or
two and (2) thorough explanation of what your example(s) show (in terms of your
4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 for your other selected quote(s).
Introductory and Conclusion Paragraphs
• In your introductory paragraph, briefly describe your author’s theory (3-6 sentences),
and then state your central point, which will regard whether you think his ideas are
good ones. Your central point should also include a list that indicates the two topics that
you will address. Here is an example: Kant’s theory seems plausible; however, his ideas
regarding duty and ends seem problematic.
• In your conclusion paragraph, after you restate your central point in brief (one
sentence), state why your critique is important in the real world. Be sure to illustrate
your position using one real and specific example, and, in the last sentence or two,
explain how your example supports your position. This is where you can connect your
critique to the image or video that you posted in your introduction at the beginning of
the course.
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• “Criticize” means analyze for merits and/or faults.
• You must select one of the works listed at the beginning of these instructions. There is
no need to further read or research your chosen author.
• This assignment is not a personal essay, so you must organize and structure it exactly
as these instructions require.
• In order to earn an “A” or “B” level score, this essay must be at least 2 and ½ pages long
(double spaced). There is no maximum.
• Use the template provided under “Content.”
• Submit your paper in .doc .docx, or .pages format.
• Title your file as your first and last name so that it looks like this: westonjorde.docx

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