Synthesis Paper Assignment for Medical Ethics – PA/PHIL 321

Due:  Tuesday, 5/11, by 11:59pm to the appropriate folder on d2l.

Length: 1800 words (not including references)

The assignment:

Develop a moral argument that takes a stance on one of the topics from one of the module writing assignments for the course OR on one of the topics addressed in the readings for the course.

*** You may use parts of your earlier writing assignments for this course in your essay.***

Outside Research Requirement:

In writing your paper, you must make reference to at least two sources from outside the course.   These might include online articles from reputable news outlets, academic articles found through the University of Arizona library, or reports of statistical information from government agencies, or other reputable sources.   These sources can be used either to help substantiate your argument, or be used to help develop an objection to your argument.

The assignment has 9 parts:


Give your essay an appropriate title.


Briefly introduce your topic and the argument you will make. Be sure to clearly state your THESIS, and put it in BOLD.  Your thesis is the conclusion of the argument that you will be making.  The introduction should be 1 paragraph long.

The heading for this section should be “Introduction.”


At least one paragraph should explain the CONTEXT of the argument.

The heading for this section should be “Context.”


Develop a moral argument that takes a stance on one of the topics from either the writing assignments for the course OR from the readings for the course.  

The heading for this section should be “The Argument for (or against) X” – where X is whatever position it is that you are defending. 

                Some Possibilities:

                The Argument against Legalizing PAS

                                The Argument for a Moral Right to Health Care

                                The Argument for a Legal Entitlement to Health Care

                                The Argument against Legalizing Human Cloning

                                The Argument for Placebo Controlled Trials Post Proven Efficacy

                                The Argument against the Deliberative Model

                                The Argument against Truth Telling


This section should have multiple paragraphs.

At least one paragraph should be devoted to making the argument.  Here you should bring together all of the considerations that support your thesis, and say why they support it. 

You may also want to include a separate paragraph devoted to explaining all of the key terms in your argument, so that it is clear what your argument means.  Also be sure to explain exactly what the conclusion of your argument means, and what it doesn’t mean. Strive for clarity.

For this section, it may help to put your argument into premise/conclusion form, listing out separately the premises and conclusion of your argument. 

In this section be sure to develop your argument in connecting with relevant concepts/ideas from the chapter readings and the video lectures.


Present what you take to be the strongest objection to your argument.   You should say clearly WHICH aspect of your argument that objection attacks?  Does it seek to undermine one of your supporting ideas (premises)?  Or does it claim that the conclusion isn’t adequately supported by the premises?  Or does it do something else?  Clearly explain how the objection is supposed to work. 

For this section, really adopt the perspective of someone who rejects your position.  What would THEY have to say against your argument?

The heading for this section should be “An Objection.”

The point of this section is to really test your argument.  So, try to come up with the strongest case against your point of view.

This section may contain multiple paragraphs.


Defend your argument by responding to the objection you have just considered.  Where does it go wrong?   Is it mistaken about the importance of some moral principle or consideration?  Does it misunderstand the context to which the argument applies?  Is it factually mistaken? 

If you are finding that you can’t really respond to the objection adequately, then you should consider re-formulating your essay so that the objection is your initial argument.

The heading for this section should be “Defense.”

This section may contain multiple paragraphs.


Briefly conclude with a summary of your main points, and why the objection you have considered fails to undermine your position.


                Include a works cited/references page at the end of your essay. 

This should include our text, the articles that are the source of your topic, course video lectures (if you cite these), and at least 2 outside references.

Please use the bibliographic style you are most comfortable with for your works cited/references page.  


Please also include inline (i.e. internal) citations.  For our text, please just use (Vaughn, p. X).  For articles use (Author, p. X).  For course video lectures, e.g. (Oberdick, 3.1, 3:45)











Grammar:  Each significant grammar mistake will be penalized 2% (capitalization, subject-verb agreement, run-on sentences, sentence fragments, etc.).

Organization:  Each significant departure from clear organization will be penalized 5% (not using separate paragraphs, paragraphs without a clear main idea, etc.).

Instructions:  Each significant departure from the assignment’s instructions will be penalized 5%. 

Too Short:  Under 1500 words, -5%; under 1200 words, -10%; under 1000 words, -20% 

Too Long:  No penalty

Late:  -10% at due time, -10% each additional 24 hours late

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