Some suggestions to get started:
First, review the readings. Use what you have learned from these readings as a basis for your own argument. When I say “as a basis,” I mean as support for your own claim. Your claim may be similar to other ethical positions, but it is still yours. Use your own ideas and examples to support your claim. Make your argument unique to you and avoid merely restating or summarizing what others have said. Use resources as support for your argument–as back up.
You are being asked to argue for an obligation that is ethical or right–for the common good. In our society, determining what is morally or ethically right is often confusing and opinionated or personal. Our society is struggling in this way. Thus the need for strong reasoning in the service for what is right. In a culture that is confused about what or how to value the natural world, we need strong claims for values. We need to be convinced of the best principles. If we ask others to honor, respect, protect, or conserve the natural world, we must be able to provide really strong reasons for doing so.
For Leopold, the reasons to love and respect and protect the natural world are rooted in ecological truths that humans often overlook or ignore because we are caught in self-interest or confused about our priorities. We are ideological beings in need of an ethical awakening, according to Leopold.
So, your claim should address what you think our ethical obligation to the environment truly is, and your rationale should assert the principle or main reason for that obligation.
WHAT NOT TO DO
Avoid the pitfall of arguing for what we already do or know, such as recycling and banning plastic. We do not need to argue for practices or actions here. This argument is for ethics–a way of thinking. This is a philosophical, not practical argument.
WHAT TO DO
Your argument is for your philosophy–your better way of thinking–about our true obligations to our world.
SUPPORTING YOUR PHILOSOPHY
You can ground your argument in what you understand about ecology. The basis for a philosophy must be in reality. Ecology helps us understand our reality, the real conditions and workings of life on Earth. Ecology provides the tools that you can give your readers to convince them to change their values.
Prompt: In your informed view, what is our ethical obligation to our environment?
Directions: Based on what you have learned in this module, present your own specific ethical argument, borrowing ideas from others as needed. Defend your position against the reasonable objections of your audience. Support your argument with ethical reasoning, selected facts gathered from our readings and viewing, as well as persuasive concepts from Leopold’s “The Land Ethic.” Some brainstorming questions to help you think through your position:
Audience: Address an audience of your friends and peers. Aim to appeal to their level of awareness and critical thinking. Length: 1250-1500 words approximately. Format: Use MLA format for the layout of the essay, as well as citation and documentation. MLA format.
Sources: Use the materials we have read or viewed in this module. Draw examples and evidence from these sources. If you need current data about environmental issues, you should do additional research. An essay should always reflect the course materials.
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