Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Essay 3 - and the Greed Study

The goal of Essay #3 is to take us one step closer to producing our final term paper by going a little bit deeper into an issue of interest to you. In the last essay, we produced an informative argument that attempted to clarify misconceptions and highlight the most important aspects of an issue. Basically, you created a framework to help an intelligent layperson approach an issue in a general way. In this essay, we will focus less on explaining the broad outlines of a topic and instead provide an account of different positions on an issue and how those differences come about. In this assignment, you will provide a framework to help an intelligent layperson understand how different assumptions about what facts are most important, what values are most pressing, and what outcomes are most desirable lead to different proposals regarding one and the same issue. Your opening paragraph should clearly define the issue you are discussing and the various positions you will compare; your thesis should provide a precise account of how those positions differ and what accounts for those differences.

For example: if we were comparing/contrasting proposals to reform Social Security by instituting personal accounts, on the one hand, and by eliminating the payroll tax and replacing it with a more progressive tax, on the other, we might argue the following: "This dispute arises from a different understanding of what Social Security is and should be: whereas proponents of private accounts see Social Security as akin to an investment in a private retirement account, and thus have no problem with the system leading to radically different payouts to beneficiaries depending on the performance of those accounts, proponents of changing merely the financing of Social Security see the program as part of the safety net designed to provide a minimum standard of retirement income regardless of how much an individual may have paid into the system before retirement." As you can see, once again it is best to focus on 2-3 proposals that are as specific as possible, which will make it easier to clearly define the reasons for those differences. The proposals need not be from radically different ideological camps as in the above example; instead, it would be perfectly acceptable to demonstrate how the same ideology can also lead to different policy prescriptions as a result of subtler differences.

Bring a rough draft of the paper to class on Friday, March 16 and Friday, March 23. The final paper will be due Tuesday, March 27 by 5pm. The final draft should be 4-6 pages in 12 point Times New Roman Font with 1 inch margins. Use MLA to cite your sources (you'll probably need at least 3-5 sources to really start to get a handle on your topic). 

For those interested in the topic of greed, you might check out this study, which produced an experiment similar to the ones described by Niko. 

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