Argumentative Research Paper Examples

Research Paper on Responsibility

This sample research paper on Responsibility features 3900 words (13 pages) and a bibliography with 29 sources. Responsibility has emerged as a central ethical category, directing attention to human beings as moral actors. It highlights the importance for ethical understanding of self-conscious moral commitments, discretion in moral judgment, personal strengths necessary to effective action, a wise use of the power and authority of societal offices, and accountability to oneself and to fellow human beings, perhaps also to God, for moral judgment and action. Discussions of responsibility do not displace systematic treatments of moral principles, laws, and rules; neither do they set aside critical studies of values worthy of promotion in human affairs. They recast these inquiries in terms of the personal lives and social roles of human beings. Themes associated with responsibility have long been prominent in philosophical and religious discourse, though in different conceptual forms. Especially important are accounts of the moral and intellectual virtues, of moral character, and of the obedient or resolute wills of the upright (Aristotle; Aquinas; Calvin; Kant; cf. Cohen). Also relevant are themes elaborated in conceptions of moral law, including natural law; in notions of the orders of nature or creation; in interpretations of divine commandments and ordinances; and in treatments of God’s covenant with Israel, or of the Christian idea of a new covenant in Jesus Christ (Aristotle; Aquinas; Brunner; Haring). Contemporary accounts of responsibility weave these classic themes together in ways that take account of modern social realities, and that utilize theories of action provided by the human sciences. In regard to modern realities, the concept of responsibility corresponds to social complexity, which routinely generates problems with more features than any system of moral rules can encompass. It fits well with advanced technologies and high levels of specialization, where expert knowledge and skill are indispensable to moral judgment. Responsibility takes account of open spaces within democratic and free-market settings for individuals and groups to follow independent initiatives in the pursuit of cherished social goals. It accords with modern social theory, which conceives of social institutions—the state, business enterprises, special-interest associations, even families and religious bodies—as the constructions of autonomous individuals contracting for mutual advantage. Finally, responsibility can accommodate reflections on the moral ambiguities of the social and organizational contexts that structure human activity. In respect to each of these characteristics, themes relating to responsibility take on considerable importance. The concept of responsibility enjoys prominence, then, because it can draw together a wide range of ethical ideas in a fashion pertinent to contemporary social existence. For some thinkers it serves as the unifying principle of a comprehensive ethical theory (cf. Niebuhr; Jonsen). Responsibility virtually becomes the first principle of ethics, so that the admonition “Be responsible!” conveys all that needs to be said about the moral life (Jonsen; cf. Glatzer). The theoretical task is to unfold the dimensions of responsibility in their bearing on personal and social processes. The dimensions of responsibility appear both in the personal lives of individuals and in the […]

Research Paper on the Right to Die

This sample research paper on the Right to Die features 8600 words (26 pages) and a bibliography with 24 sources. Prior to World War II, death came naturally or accidentally. There was little that doctors could do to forestall it. With the development and application of a variety of drugs and devices, this slowly began to change in the 1950s and 1960s. In addition to the improved medical capabilities, public attitudes toward the respective roles of physicians and patients in making decisions about whether to deploy medical technology also began to shift. In the 1950s and 1960s, influenced by the civil rights and the consumer rights movements, the public gradually shifted the almost sole responsibility for deciding whether and how to treat patients from physicians’ hands to the hands of patients or their families. The Development of Patient Autonomy Autonomy—or as it is sometimes referred to, self-determination— is the core value that has driven the development of the right to die, as well as the more fundamental right to refuse medical treatment out of which the right to die has grown. Legal recognition of the right of patients to make decisions about the medical care they do and do not wish to receive has deep historical roots. However, the right to make medical decisions is itself of relatively recent vintage, perhaps because until recently there was not a great deal in the way of medical treatment to choose from and certainly not much that was efficacious. Before the last decades of the twentieth century, there was not so much a right of patients to choose but a right to veto what the doctor proposed. As medical capability has gradually increased, so have efforts aimed at increasing the role of patients in making decisions about whether and how to employ that capability. Autonomy has had a long struggle to dislodge the longstanding dominance of medical paternalism in the doctor-patient relationship. By the last quarter of the twentieth century, patient autonomy had become the prevalent value in law, public policy, and bioethics. However, there remains a considerable gap between theory and actual clinical practice (Solomon, et al.). Another important trend that has affected the shift in medical decision making is the role of law in society in general. Prior to the twentieth century, law played a much more limited role in resolving controversies among private citizens and lawsuits by patients against physicians were exceedingly rare. These few lawsuits fell into two groups: claims based on an allegation of negligent medical practice, and claims of nonconsensual treatment amounting to a civil battery. Ultimately, these two themes were merged in the 1950s and 1960s in the development of the concept of informed consent to medical treatment. Originally, the law of battery played the more significant role. Although mostly thought of as a protection against conduct involving violence against another person (and in fact it does provide such protection), battery provides a legal remedy for an intentional, nonconsensual touching of another person that results in […]

Research Paper on Philosophy of Science

This sample research paper on Philosophy of Science features 3000 words (9 pages) and a bibliography with 17 sources. Philosophy of science as an autonomous subject is a product of the twentieth century. Its development stemmed from the great intellectual challenges of the quantum and relativity theories, but philosophical issues surrounding such theories as psychoanalysis, evolutionary theory, Marxist and capitalist economics, the ethics of human experimentation, and the enormously increased importance of science as an intellectual endeavor led to a great expansion of the field. Work within philosophy of science tends to fall into two approaches. The first sees science as a testing ground for traditional philosophical problems. Chief among these traditional problems is this: Can we have any knowledge that is certain and in terms of which all other knowledge in the area can be justified (foundationalism), or are all claims to knowledge uncertain (fallibilism)? Within the realm of things that can be known by empirical investigation, it would seem that science has the best claim to secure knowledge. Philosophers of science have thus devoted a considerable amount of time to what kinds of scientific methods are effective in producing such reliable knowledge. On the other hand, many philosophers, especially in recent times, have denied that science does actually produce a privileged body of knowledge, and have argued that all scientific knowledge is a product of its historical and social context. The second approach to philosophy of science focuses on issues that are peculiar to individual sciences. Of particular interest here is the possibility of reducing biology to chemistry or physics, and of reducing some of the social sciences, especially psychology, to biology. If these reductionist projects were to be successful, then issues that currently appear to be peculiarly biological, such as the question of what makes something a living organism, would turn out to be merely a question of degrees of complexity, and not specifically biological at all. In addition, the moral issues that pertain to humans and animals because of their psychological characteristics would be approached very differently if psychological properties were considered to be unreal or merely disguised biological properties. These differences between the sciences are crucial. For example, a great deal of medical research cannot enjoy the unlimited freedom of laboratory experimentation that is characteristic of physics simply because of the ethical constraints its subjects require. Moreover, the variability of its subjects makes universal laws hard to formulate in biology, in distinction to, for example, astronomy. Predecessors to Contemporary Viewpoints It was the logical positivists and logical empiricists of the Vienna Circle (1923–1936) and the Berlin school (1928–1933) who succeeded in placing scientific issues near the heart of the philosophical enterprise. (A classic, albeit sententious, presentation of the logical positivists’ views can be found in A. J. Ayer’s Language, Truth and Logic, 1946.) For philosophers such as Moritz Schlick, Rudolf Carnap, Hans Reichenbach, and Carl Hempel, all of whom had a scientific education, the task was to provide a foundation for genuine knowledge, and this […]

Research Paper on Scientific Publishing

This sample research paper on Scientific Publishing features 5100 words (16 pages) and a bibliography with 33 sources. During the late 1970s and the 1980s, an ethics of scientific publication began to evolve. Competition among scientists for academic rewards and research funds, the continued fragmentation and commercialization of science, and reports of scientific misconduct, as well as increasing governmental and legal interference with the inner workings of the scientific community led many within that community to perceive a need for reforms to guide both the conduct of science and the dissemination of scientific information. Journal editors, universities, professional associations, funding agencies, and governments have taken active roles in debating and setting ethical standards and editorial policies for the dissemination of scientific information. In 1978, a self-appointed group of editors, the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), representing leading general medical journals, met in Vancouver, British Columbia, to set technical guidelines for the submission of manuscripts. These guidelines, the Uniform Requirements for the Submission of Manuscripts to Biomedical Journals, have evolved to include statements for the ethical conduct of authors, editors, and peer reviewers. While the ICMJE statements set international standards for biomedical publishing, the number of journals that adhere to them is unknown (ICMJE, 1991, 1993b). This research paper presents an overview of the major ethical issues in biomedical and scientific publishing. Editorial and Peer Review The prestige and influence of biomedical journal publication are closely related to the quality control and selection process that precedes publication. Thus, the essential tasks of medical editing are the selection and improvement of articles submitted for publication. These tasks are generally accomplished through processes of editorial review (evaluation by the journal’s editorial staff) and peer review (evaluation by experts in a given field who are considered the authors’ “peers”). These two processes may overlap, particularly when an editor is also an expert in a manuscript’s topic, but editorial review usually focuses on the appropriateness, clarity, and priority of articles for the journal’s readership. Peer reviewers are selected by the editor to assess the quality of an article’s scientific and technical content and to offer advice about publication. Since decisions regarding rejection, revision, or acceptance are made solely by the editor, the term referee exaggerates a reviewer’s advisory role and should be avoided. Peer review was first used for biomedical publications by the Royal Societies of London and Edinburgh in the eighteenth century, but evolved haphazardly; it was not employed regularly until after World War II (Lock). Two striking aspects of peer review are that it is based almost entirely on uncompensated, voluntary labor and that the peer review system itself has only recently come under scientific scrutiny (Lock; “Guarding the Guardians,”; Rennie and Flanagin, 1994b). Journals follow differing policies about revealing reviewers’ identities to authors and authors’ identities to reviewers (Lock; “Guarding the Guardians,”; Rennie and Flanagin, 1994b). Some editors believe that disclosure of reviewer identities to authors decreases the potential for bias, while others believe such disclosure leads to less critical […]

Research Paper on Sexism

Sexism is the failure to give equal weight to women’s interests. It is the antithesis of feminism, a moral, political, and social movement that seeks justice for women. Sexism is important because it undermines the welfare of one-half of the human population and is a major source of women’s oppression. Each of these terms—interests, justice, welfare, oppression—is theory-laden, suggesting a particular way of understanding the origins and remedies for wrongful sex- and gender-based distinctions. This research paper is eclectic but relies primarily on the liberal language of rights and interests. Women have two kinds of rights, the ones shared with men by virtue of their common humanity, and the ones required by virtue of their differences from men. Sexism fails to recognize these rights by assuming, on the basis of inadequate evidence, that there are morally relevant differences between women and men, or by overlooking morally relevant differences that call for different treatment. Medical treatment of heart disease in women is an example of both kinds of sexism. On the one hand, ignoring contrary evidence, practitioners have assumed that heart disease is not a women’s problem. On the other, they have refused to take seriously the possibility that heart disease might manifest itself differently in women than in men. Consequently, heart disease in women is underdiagnosed, treatments are geared toward men’s needs, and women needlessly suffer and die more often than men. Although sexism can be a result of inattention, or a deliberate policy of subordinating women’s interests to those of men or children, it may also result from historically embedded social institutions that naturalize assumptions about gender. A key assumption is that biology determines women’s nature, whereas men construct themselves. Woman’s inherent function is to nurture children and men. Women therefore do not elicit the respect due to rational persons with legitimate life-plans of their own; their interests are relatively unimportant, and may be subordinated to others with which they come in conflict. The consequences range from abortion, infanticide, and starvation for female Indian children, to more subtle but still significant losses for Western women. Among these are lack of representation in positions of public power and prestige, longer hours of work for less pay, lack of sexual or reproductive freedom, less advanced healthcare, and less leisure, pleasure, and financial and physical security. No thoughtful person wants to be seen as sexist. But because of widespread negativism about feminism, many people believe that there is neutral territory between the two. However, where women’s interests are affected there is either a (feminist) commitment to count them equally or there is a (sexist) discounting of those interests. Neutrality can exist where gender is not at issue or where it is difficult to determine whether sexism is at work. Oppression, Discrimination, Sexism Oppression is the systematic and unjust subordination of some people by others. Sexism is a major source of women’s oppression. Oppression may be based on superior power, without any attempt at justification. However, it is usually predicated on the alleged […]

Research Paper on Social Control of Sexual Behavior

This sample research paper on Social Control of Sexual Behavior features 4500 words (14 pages) and a bibliography with 44 sources. The twentieth century witnessed an explosion of knowledge about the physiology, psychology, and sociology of human sexuality, thanks to the revolution in public acceptability of discourse about sexual conduct and the freeing of scholarly interest that followed the trailblazing works published in the late Victorian era by Richard von Krafft–Ebing (1939 [1886]), Havelock Ellis (1901), and Sigmund Freud (1955a [1895], 1955b [1905]). However, controversy still rages over the basic issue of how sexual behavior is molded, encouraged, and discouraged by social customs and practices. Are males naturally more aggressive in seeking sexual contact than females, or is this a product of social patriarchy? Is homosexuality caused primarily by biological factors, or is it largely caused by social experiences during formative stages of the child’s development? Is cultural permissiveness responsible for the dramatic increase in reports of sexual harassment and abuse, or are changing mores encouraging victims to name parents, doctors, and priests who were in the past able to hide their misconduct under a cloak of respectability? The answers to these questions are not only empirical, they are also ethical and political. Allegedly scientific beliefs about the naturalness of certain sexual acts often reflect unacknowledged cultural biases, and thoughts and theories affect the behavior they label, characterize, and implicitly valorize or demean. As feminists and historians such as Michel Foucault (1990) have pointed out, the neutral scientific language of medicine is no guarantor of the moral innocuousness of theories about gender and sexual behavior; to the contrary, claims of scientific objectivity about these topics are apt to be all the more dangerous morally for pretending to be value-free. Theories of sexual behavior cannot avoid assumptions about power and domination that too frequently perpetuate injustices. Thus, sexologist Alfred Kinsey’s claim that males are naturally more aggressive in initiating sex (Kinsey, Pomeroy, and Martin) is not merely the objective scientific statement it purports to be, but a statement that supports the power of men over women in society. Anyone who is concerned about power and justice needs continually to scrutinize and critique so-called scientific claims about human sexuality by attending to how they perpetuate social stereotypes that are not universal and, by assigning more value to the experiences of certain people (e.g., white heterosexual males), help to empower some and disempower others. One would expect social ethicists to be sensitized to these issues, but the most influential recent theorists of justice (e.g., John Rawls, Ronald Dworkin, Robert Nozick, Michael Walzer) scarcely even mention gender justice, much less consider sexual roles a central matter for ethical scrutiny (see Susan Okin’s 1989 work). One reason for this neglect is the traditional public/private dichotomy that assigns sexual behavior to a private arena outside the concerns of the social theorist. Employment of this dichotomy in the past to keep cases of domestic rape and child abuse out of American courts, on the grounds that they […]