biomedical ethics

Defend an Ethical Position
Imagine that you are a physician, and you stand firmly against the practice of physician assisted suicide – both by recommending methods and prescribing potentially lethal pharmaceuticals with instructions on how to fatally overdose.
However, the state in which you practice has legalized PAS, and providing this service has now become a requirement for your job.
Your Task: Develop and defend an ethical position on how you would respond to this situation. Would you suspend your personal beliefs in service to the profession? Or would you stand up and defend your ethical point of view against this shifting professional expectation?
Assignment Guidelines
This assignment provides you with an opportunity to do what we’ve been doing throughout this semester – to develop and rigorously defend an ethical position. You don’t have to personally believe the position you choose to defend. In fact, I encourage you to choose a position that may not align with your own personal beliefs.
Your goal is to assume that I know very little about this debate and persuade me to believe the position you’re defending. You can achieve this using the following guidelines:
Word Count
Minimum 800 words with no unnecessary ‘fluff’ that does not positively contribute to your position.
Try to aim for no more than 1200 words. (PRO TIP: If your essay is going far above the 1200+ word mark, you probably have some fluff in there)
Order of Response
You’ll have much more freedom to develop and organize your response however you think is best. I am not expecting a systematic argument evaluation like you provided in Paper 1.
Remember that a well-rounded argument will contain all these elements:

Topic Introduction & Defining Terms

Again, assume I know very little about what’s involved in this debate. You must clearly define what ethical problem is at issue here and succinctly explain what it entails.

The most powerful position papers are clear, straightforward, and easy to follow. Structure your position as a process from premises to conclusion. Make sure each premise connects to the previous one. Develop a conclusion that logically follows from your premises.

Your position becomes stronger and more robust when you acknowledge and respond to objections. For example, if you’re arguing that you would stand up for your ethical principles and choose not to offer PAS, you would have to address the objection of “well, you can always just quit your job!”
Content of Response
How you develop the content of your response is entirely up to you. I encourage you to utilize our lectures as a resource. In particular, you’ll value the following lectures:

Argument Development (08/31)
Logical Fallacies (09/09)
Physician Assisted Suicide (11/02)

These lectures are available on Canvas with recording on Teams, and they will help you to better develop your position and respond to any objections.
Writing Tips

Clearly Articulate a Position: Choose a side to this debate and defend it. This paper is not the place to choose a centrist position. Again, you don’t have to personally agree with the position you choose to defend.
Be Clear on That Position: Leave no doubt in my mind where your position lies. Are you asserting that a physician must follow the requirements of the profession even when they ethically object to it? Or are you defending a physician’s right to stand up against controversial ethical issues such as PAS?
Be Concise. Keep your argument short, simple, and clear. Don’t get too lost in the details as you’ll inevitably confuse me while I read.
Avoid Logical Fallacies: Review the notes on logical fallacies and make sure you don’t fall into any of those argumentative pitfalls.
Beware of Appealing to Emotion: Your goal is to develop and defend a position philosophically. Appealing to the emotional aspect of physician-assisted suicide can quickly derail your argument, so proceed with caution if you choose to include it.

Submission/Due Date
Submit the assignment as a .doc or .docx file (Word) to Canvas by 11:59 PM on 11/16/2021. You’ll lose one point (i.e. 1% of your final course grade) for every day it is late.
Plagiarism/Use of Outside Sources
It is your responsibility to know and understand USF’s policy on plagiarism and what that entails. All assignments are submitted on Turnitin which compares your submissions against web-based content and all other academic writing which has been submitted to the platform.
Your best bet is to keep your writing original and in your own words with few to no quotes. Include citations if you’re directly referencing or quoting a source or statistic.
Grading Rubric

5 Points: Completely answered all parts of the assignment, followed all the formatting instructions, written within the minimum/maximum word count range.
4 Points: Answered all major parts of the assignment with 1-2 minor instances of incomplete or missing components, followed all the formatting instructions, written within the minimum/maximum word count range.
3 Points: Answered some parts of the assignment with 2-3 instances of incomplete or missing components, did not follow all formatting instructions, did not meet or greatly exceeded word count range.
2 Points: Answered few parts of the assignment or only vaguely responded to the questions, multiple problems with formatting, did not meet or greatly exceeded word count range.
1 Point: Almost no answers relevant to the assignment, multiple errors in formatting and word count.
0 Points: Did not answer any parts of the assignment, did not follow assignment instructions, did not meet or greatly exceeded word count range.


5 Points: Each idea coherently connects to the previous one while remaining properly focused on responding to the assignment.
4 Points: Ideas mostly connect with 1-2 instances of organizational confusion, points that may not follow each other, or ideas that do not connect to the assignment.
3 Points: Decent organization with loose connections or ideas that may not follow from one another, 2-3 instances of ideas that do not connect to the assignment.
2 Points: Disorganized/confusing structure which is difficult to follow and does not adequately connect to the assignment.
1 Point: Very little organization, extremely difficult to follow, barely connects to the assignment (i.e. last minute ‘stream of consciousness’ writing).
0 Points: No organizational coherence, paper may not connect to the topic at all.


5 Points: Solid argumentation, no logical fallacies or irrelevant ideas, thorough and proficient discussion of topics.
4 Points: Decent argumentation with occasional missteps in structure or fallacious reasoning, and a mostly proficient discussion of topics.
3 Points: Okay argumentation, some places where argument may not make sense, may have fallacious reasoning, or may have a few mistakes about the topics.
2 Points: Multiple problems in argumentative structure, multiple mistakes on discussion of topics.
1 Point: Incoherent argumentative structure, little understanding of topics.
0 Points: Paper either demonstrates no knowledge/understanding of the topics or contains completely irrelevant ideas for the assignment.

Spelling & Grammar
Continued instances of poor spelling/grammar will decrease your score by up to 3 points based on the number of problems or mistakes.

-1 Point: A few obvious spelling/grammar mistakes that could have been corrected through Word’s Spelling & Grammar Check.
-2 Points: Multiple instances of spelling mistakes and some grammar problems.
-3 Points: Recurrent problems throughout the paper with spelling mistakes and patterns of grammatical error.

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