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LENGTH: Your paper should be between 750 and 900 words. (You will lose 1% of your course grade for every 10 words outside of this range, up to 15% max, so edit ruthlessly.) Do not pad your word count with needless repetition or lengthy quotations. Bibliographic information such as a ‘Works Cited’ page does not count toward the word limit.
CONTENT: A good paper will:
cover all of the topics that the main assignment (below) asks you to—no more, no less. Don’t write less than you need to fully explain your ideas, but don’t write more than you need to in order to pad out a section.
draw explicitly on course readings and lecture notes to complete the required tasks in a way that demonstrates a thorough understanding of the material and goes beyond what someone who had not taken the course could easily come up with.
give a clear verdict about the case that is well supported and offers reasons that are fully explained. You won’t be graded on whichverdict you defend, but on your ability to clearly articulate compelling reasons for your position.
STYLE: Write in way that is clear, simple, grammatical, and easy to understand. (A good test is to have someone not in the class read the paper to see if they can understand it completely.) Explain complex ideas and define all jargon. Assume your reader is naïve, and that any authors you engage with are neither stupid nor evil. Finally, using the first-person voice is often both appropriate and necessary in order to state your own view; avoiding it is a silly prejudice that can lead to awkward results and unclarity.
REFERENCES: If you use or consult any sources at all, you must cite them, including titles and page numbers/URLs. Be sure that any sources you consult are reliable (e.g., academic journals, reputable news outlets, educational/non-profit sources). If you aren’t sure about a source or citation, ask me about it before submitting your paper. You may use any established style of citation that you like, but you must use it consistently.
PLAGIARISM: Your paper must be your own original work in its entirety. Both the receiving and the giving of unauthorized help constitute cheating. If you rely on outside sources of any type (e.g., readings or notes or tutors or sample essays or your own past work), you must include a citation. Direct quotations of any length must be in quotation marks. For more details on the course and university policies regarding academic integrity, see the syllabus and the Student Handbook.
MAIN ASSIGNMENT: Persuasive/Hostile Design
Part A: Describe an example of persuasive design.
Find an example of persuasive or hostile design in your own personal lived environment. This can be in the physical, built environment of campus or the city, or in a structure or device or interface that you have interacted with, or in an online or other digital environment that you regularly navigate. Clearly describe the structure of the design (you are encouraged but not required to include images where appropriate to aid the reader), noting the following features:
Whom is the design targeting for persuasion?
How does the design influence the behavior of persons in that environment?
Whose interests does the design impact, and does it help or harm those interests?
Is the design’s impact intentional or unintentional, in your view?
This description should be thorough, but it should not be the longest part of the paper. Also, in selecting an example, be sure to pick one that is a good candidate for a clear analysis in Part B!
Part B: Analyze the example from the perspective of an ethical theory.
Next, evaluate the design from the perspective of a utilitarian. You should begin by briefly outlining in your own words how the theory of utilitarianism, in general, yields verdicts about right and wrong actions. (Assume that your reader is not otherwise familiar with the theory.) Next, explain what a utilitarian would say about the design you described in Part A, and in particular whether the design appears to be ethical or unethical according to the standards of the theory of utilitarianism. You should not simply state a verdict; rather, you should also carefully explain the reasoning behind the utilitarian’s answer, offering an analysis of the case that digs beneath the surface and displays careful and creative thinking, drawing on one or more readings from the course and displaying mastery of the relevant ideas. (You are not required to limit yourself to readings or podcasts from the syllabus, but you must draw on at least some of them.)
Part C: Provide your own evaluation of the example (or raise an objection).
Finally, state whether you agree or disagree with the utilitarian analysis that you laid out in Part B, and clearly explain your reasons why or why not. (You will not receive credit for an unexplained verdict.) In formulating your verdict, you might consider questions such as the following: Is anything missing from the theory’s analysis that you find to be morally relevant? Is there anything that you would add to it or modify about it? Does it yield the wrong verdict, or the right verdict for the wrong reasons? Be clear about the specifics of what you agree or disagree with as well as the reasons for your agreement or disagreement. (Note: You are not required to disagree with the verdict you outlined in Part B. If you don’t disagree, however, you should instead play devil’s advocate by raising the strongest possible objection you can think of to the verdict in Part B and explaining why it fails to provide a sufficient reason for disagreeing with the verdict.) This part of your paper should not be a superficial afterthought or a sentence tacked on the end. Rather, you should draw on what was said in earlier sections of this paper or in class or in our readings (or your own knowledge or other sources) and offer a plausible and well-supported conclusion that emerges as a synthesis from your overall discussion.
DISCOUNT CODE FIRST25