Now that you’re focused on revising the Manifesto…

You’ll want to consider the required elements and quality expectations in the 2013 Manifesto Rubric.  The good news is that there’s very little that you might find unexpected.  The quality expectations are the same kinds of things we’ve been learning throughout the year:

  • Form a unique thesis and support it with expert testimony
  • Be sure to do more than just explain your view in a report
  • Consider the counter-arguments you should provide
  • Write as efficiently as possible with a focused scope of work [if you’re more than 4k words, there’s likely a problem]

With this in mind, you should read and consider the attached rubric.  It should guide your revision and peer editing steps.  Get help from others who can help you see the shortcomings of your own work.  The rubric tells them what to look for.


Manifesto 2013 – choosing a topic

Manifesto Topic 2013

Many of you have already started the process of thinking through the topic for your manifesto.  I have spoken with several of you who have considered an alternate topic for your manifesto.  Regardless of the topic you will eventually explore, the central guiding question I will ask as a reader is “how is this essay an application of a moral philosophy?”  Another way to look at it is “how is this (writing) about ethics?”  If you can keep that in mind, you are on the right track.
Unless you get an alternate topic approved on Friday, May 17th, your Manifesto must be a response to this question:  How can we ensure that businesses make ethical decisions?
For simplicity’s sake, I would recommend that you frame your discussion of the problem around a modern economic failure like the collapse of the clothing factory in Bangladesh.  A sample model of this default topic is stated below these abstract examples.
All Manifestos will include the following four components:  a stated (economic) problem, a recognition of one’s assumptions about human nature, an argument of what is right (in an economic sense) and how right is known, and a viable solution to the problem.
Please recognize, as an author, that your goal is to state the problem and your assumptions and then build your argument for a solution to the problem – a solution that gets us even closer to the ideal.
A possible structure would look like the following:
 – the assumptions you have about human nature
 – the way that ‘right’  and duty are known in an economic sense
 – the problem that must be solved (and why it requires action)
 – the solution that will restore the ‘ideal’ and improve society while solving the problem
Likewise, some may find this structure more appealing:
 – a statement of the problem and the dangers of inaction
 – the recognition of how people behave without guidance
 – description of the ideal  good and how the good is realized
 – a clarification of the steps toward the solution AND the argument for why it is both necessary and viable
IF YOU KNOW WHAT YOU’RE DOING, IGNORE THIS NEXT SECTION.  If you can’t decide on your own, you’re going to write on the default topic (or if you haven’t really decided yet).   You should tackle this basic sequence of questions in your work:
1. Why is the factory collapse such a big deal?  Yes, over 1,000 lives were lost, but there are other catastrophes that take a similar number of lives.  What is the economic injustice inherent in this issue?
2. How is this building collapse an example of what is wrong with human nature?  How do people behave both in nature and when they enter into an economic agreement?  Do people naturally care for others?  Should they care for each other in an economic sense?
3.And what obligation do we have to take action in this case?  What duty do we have to others?  Where does this obligation come from?  How do we know this obligation exists?
4. So, what should be done in this case?  Who is really responsible for the loss of life – the workers? the owner? the companies that contracted the work?  the consumers in the U.S.?  What specific steps need to be taken in order to ensure that this type of unethical business practices are not allowed to happen in the future?  and what makes you think these steps will prevent unethical business practices given what you know/stated about human nature?
So, please realize that by today, May 17th, you need to have a first draft of the entirety of the project including a possible solution to the problem.

The Manifesto Assignment Overview and Learning Objectives

Today we begin the groundwork for the Manifesto.

Actually, we have been working toward the production of the Manifesto (as we will call it) the entire year.  The Manifesto you will craft will showcase your thinking and writing skills in a product that represents the best work you have done as a student.  The Manifesto will demonstrate your best analytical and problem-solving skills.  It will serve as an example of your talents.

In short, the Manifesto will require you to:

  • form your own philosophical view on morality including:
    • The source of what is right
    • How right is known
    • How right can be learned
  • know a range of similar and contrasting moral viewpoints
    • recognize the strengths and weaknesses of their arguments
  • apply your ethical philosophy to an economic reality
  • research and understand a current event that allows you to discuss the ethics of economics
    • make the argument that the current situation is causing harm
  • consider and address the implications of inaction
  • propose a solution/take a viewpoint on the dilemma
  • consider and address the implications of your solution

In the process, you will make sure that you:

  • formulate original ideas
  • research and acknowledge the ideas of others by quoting their insights
    • clearly identifying the source of expert opinions
    • clearly identifying the differences between your ideas and the ideas of others
    • include specific ‘expert’ views that disagree with your own
      • refute their arguments in ways that suggest the legitimacy of your views

As you look to determine the appropriate direction of your Manifesto, it is important to recognize that your peers will not be writing their Manifestos on exactly the same topic.  In fact, given the complexity of the assignment and the breadth of options within the realm of economics, it is likely that your peers will be writing different topics.  As it turns out, that is a good thing – they will then be great peer editors.  If you’re writing a project on the same topic as someone else, keep your solutions under wraps so that your solutions are unique and revolutionary.

Day two test… Ethics pre-test

Yesterday’s submission focused on human nature.  You received both a grade and basic feedback on your submission [check family access].  Today, your job is as follows:

  1. Recognize that you’re continuing the discussion about how people are when you address the question: “How do people know right from wrong?”.  Also, you should recognize that the next step will be “Given that human nature is like “X” and the ideal we are trying to reach is known by Y, we need to help get people to that ideal by doing Z.”
  2. Just to be clear, I’m not giving you sub-questions because a few students felt that they had done a quality job if they merely had an answer for each.  With that in mind…
  3. Realize that, in your answer, you will need to include:
    1. Clear and factually true (not made up) examples from your experience that have helped form your opinion [avoid hypotheticals!]
    2. Recognition of views others may hold (concession statements) and an appropriate counter-argument [with support].
  4. Your submission is due in paper form by the end of class on 4/30.  If you have time to work after your submitting your work, please go back and revise yesterday’s entry.

The work begins today for the Manifesto…

In order to get started on your project, start today, April 29th by addressing the following in an expository essay:

  1. How are human beings in the ‘state of nature?’ What is human nature?
    1. Do people make moral decisions?  Do they naturally care for others?
    2. Can they think beyond self-interest?
    3. Do people need to be regulated?  Why?
    4. What ends are you hoping to achieve through regulation?

In your response, use specific examples both from your experience and from current events that would suggest you are accurate in your assertions.  In addition, it is worthwhile to use the arguments of philosophers to bolster your opinions.

A simple rubric for today’s work would include the following.  Students should:

  • formulate original ideas
  • research and acknowledge the ideas of others by quoting their insights
    • clearly identifying the source of expert opinions (hyperlink!)
  • clearly identifying the differences between your ideas and the ideas of others
  • including examples from personal experience to support your view
  • include specific ‘expert’ views that disagree with your own (concession statement)
    • refute their arguments in ways that suggest the legitimacy of your views (counter-argument)

Though obviously a first draft, the product of your work today should be saved in digital form, submitted during class in paper form, and of a high calibre.  Your end product will be worth 10 points of daily work [for submission] and 10 points in the Test/Quiz category for your inclusion and labelling of the above bulleted items.