1. Abortion. Abortion can be an emotional issue, with proponents from each side totally convinced that they are right, and with many unwilling to consider opposing viewpoints. Your argument will be more convincing if you avoid the emotional components and stick to the facts. Try to present both sides of the argument; then demonstrate why your position is preferable. Because so much has been written, you should avoid information overload by narrowing your topic to one issue. Some possibilities are:
- Abortion after Rape or Incest
- Birth Control
- Early Termination of Pregnancy
- Eugenic Abortion and Impaired Fetus
- Parental Rights and Abortion
- Parental Rights of Child Under 18
- Partial-Birth Abortion
- Pro-choice Movement
- Pro-life Movement
- Right to Life
- RU 486 Abortion Pill
- Teenage Abortions and Child Mothers
- Therapeutic Abortion and Mother’s Health
2. Affirmative Action. Affirmative action began in the mid-twentieth century, when schools and employers were required to adopt policies that would make up for past discrimination. There is plenty of information; in fact, the biggest problem with this topic is that there is too much information. You can solve this problem by narrowing your topic to a specific minority group (gender, race), industry, or location. Also consider job discrimination against a religious group, people who are overweight, or the physically handicapped. Examples:
- Affirmative Action and African Americans
- Hispanics and Employment Discrimination
- University Quotas
- Job Discrimination
- Women and Employment
- Equal Employment Opportunity Commission—EEOC
3. Alcohol Advertising. Beer advertisements are synonymous with sports events. Some people watch the Super Bowl to see what Budweiser™ is doing next. What is the impact of advertising on alcohol consumption? Major issues include the following:
- Has advertising created a subtle link between alcohol and sports?
- Is advertising a major influence on underage drinking?
- Is it fair or advantageous to require that equal time be given to anti-alcohol advertising?
- Should advertisements be restricted to journals and television shows that children won’t see?
- Should beer be treated the same as hard liquor? Should wine?
- Voluntary Alcohol Advertising Standards for Children Act
4. Alternative Fuels. Vehicles are a major consumer of oil, a fossil fuel. At the current rate of consumption, the world’s oil resources will be gone in 100 years. You might argue whether we should be using or requiring alternative fuels, or you might consider which ones to try.
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of each type of fuel?
- Is it really renewable?
- What is its effect on the environment?
- Will it be affordable in future?
Some alternative fuels you might consider are hydrogen, methanol, natural gas, and solar power. Although electricity is not an alternative fuel in itself, electric or hybrid cars are an alternative use of current fuel.
5. Alternative Medicine. Although most U.S. physicians limit their recommendations to traditional Western practices, other treatments have been used around the world for centuries. Folk medicine, Far Eastern medicine, and chiropractics all have their proponents.
- Consider first: What is alternative medicine?
- In what ways are particular treatments effective or ineffective?
- Should these treatments be regulated?
- Should health insurance cover alternative medicine?
- Should physicians learn and include alternative treatments along with traditional medicine? If they do, should they inform patients?
To narrow your topic, you might choose one specific treatment, such as acupuncture, hypnosis, marijuana use, Reiki, meditation, homeopathic medicine, or holistic medicine.
6. Animal Testing, Animal Rights, Animal Welfare. Although the use of animals in research can strike an emotional chord, you can write a more persuasive paper if you consider the topic from a scientific point of view. Consider alternatives such as computer models, testing on cell cultures, and human volunteers. The biomedical community attempts to use lesser species, such as rats rather than dogs; sea slugs rather than rats; or horseshoe crabs rather than rabbits.
- Is it necessary to use animals in “cosmetic” and other product research?
- Should animals be used in developing new techniques and drugs? Why or why not? Are the results transferable to humans?
- Would you be willing to be the subject of a new treatment that has been developed on a computer and never tested on animals?
7. Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia. Dr. Jack Kevorkian has been in the news for years for providing the terminally ill with the means to commit suicide. Is he a murderer or a hero? What ethical issues are at stake here? What legal ones? The courts are trying to decide if assisted suicide is really suicide or murder. Consider some of the following issues:
- Do people have a right to die or an obligation to live?
- Should the government interfere in this matter?
- What are the alternatives to assisted suicide?
- If assisted suicide becomes legal, what safeguards should be taken to ensure that only the terminally ill and not the temporarily depressed are aided in hurrying their demise?
8. Athletes as Role Models. When a well-known athlete resorts to violence, it becomes a headline issue. Are athletes more prone to using drugs or violence than the general population? Do bodybuilding drugs such as steroids cause shorter tempers? When an athlete accepts a multi-million-dollar contract, does it obligate him or her to be a role model for admirers? You might consider the entire question of celebrities and the right to privacy, or narrow your topic to certain famous cases such as:
- O. J. Simpson
- Charles Barkley
- Warren Moon, or
- Mike Tyson.
9. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Find a focus for this large topic. Parents are concerned that teachers who cannot deal with unruly students label them as ADD. Schools are concerned that the medication is not being given properly. This condition is so well known that the acronym alone will bring up plenty of information. It is better to use the complete term, however.
- How does attention deficit hyperactivity disorder affect learning?
- Are too many students taking Ritalin? Is it a cop-out for teachers? Parents? Doctors? What are the side effects with continual use?
- Should people with ADHD be classified as disabled? Receive special education in school? Have special privileges? Take standardized tests?
- What are the issues involved in adult ADD?
10. Campaign Finance Reform. Ex-President Bill Clinton was accused of inviting people to stay in the White House in exchange for contributions to the Democrat Party. Ralph Nader hoped to get 5 percent of the popular vote in the 2000 presidential election to qualify for federal campaign funds. Republican candidates for president dropped out of the race early because they could not compete with George W. Bush’s fundraising. There are many issues to consider here:
- Has fundraising become the focus of political parties, before ethics and issues?
- What influence do major contributors have on political issues?
- Should non-U.S. companies be allowed to donate to U.S. politicians? Or out-of state companies to local politicians?
- Should giving be limited by dollar amounts?
- Should people be allowed to fund themselves? Does this allow the rich more opportunity in politics?