argumentative essay

Essay #2 Guidelines


We have spent the last two weeks of class discussing the concepts of justice, fairness, morality, good/bad, right/wrong, and the exceptional cases in which the definitions of these concepts become blurred. We will continue our discussion in the upcoming weeks…Write an essay on ONE of the following prompts:


  1. What is worse: being wrong, being bad, or being immoral?
  2. What is more important: being good, being right, or being moral?


Having chosen either (a) or (b), consider the definitions of the words included and their relation to each other and other words (namely, the other words I had on the board under each category). Think about some of the contradictions we discussed. For example: “justice” was under “good” but “kill” is “bad” so despite being able to justify reasons for killing, it still remains bad. After you’ve given yourself some time to think about it (don’t rush to do this assignment! you’ll work yourself into a corner!)…


PROMPT: Write an essay that argues your perspective of (a) OR (b). You cannot give a wishy-washy answer; it must be a clear cut “this is the most important because…” or “this is the worst because…” kind of an answer. In each of your body paragraphs, explain why your chosen concept is (depending on the prompt) worse than/ more important than the other concepts, and provide examples of each. Do NOT provide counterexamples. I don’t want to know that “although X is more important, Z is also important because…” This is an argumentation class, so argue— if it helps, pretend that your “more important”/ “worst” choice is a client and you are a lawyer— you wouldn’t tell the jury that he/she is innocent, BUT… right? So take a stand and defend your client. Prove to me that your choice is the right choice. Remember, don’t use “I think/ I believe” or “you.” You can use “I” only in cases where you’re giving a personal example, otherwise stick to 3rd person.


Now, because this is still an essay, you need to follow a 3 part structure, so you’ll need an intro, body, and conclusion. Your intro should include definitions of your terms and an example of each term for clarification. So for example, if you choose prompt (b) you need define “good,” “right,” and “moral” (and no, you can’t say “good is good because it is not bad”). Once you’ve defined your terms, give examples of what it means to be “good,” “right,” and “moral” according to your definitions. End your intro with your thesis—the claim you are defending— you can keep it as simple as “X is more important than Y and Z because…”


Dedicate each body paragraph to comparing two of the concepts. So for example, in body paragraph 1, only discuss X and Y; body 2 discuss X and Z. If you need more than one paragraph to cover your argument for each, that’s fine, just make sure to clarify in your topic sentence that you’re continuing from the previous paragraph. In each body, make sure to give detailed examples and explain why you made the choice you did (so, why X is more important). Try to cover all aspects of the argument as we try to do in class, but be careful to not to shift your argument into a counterargument. Instead, try to show why the decision couldn’t be anything other than the one you made.


All of the standard essay requirements apply to this essay: thesis, topic sentences, transitions, grammar, academic writing, etc. However, this is a philosophical argument, one without a right or wrong answer, so you have the intellectual and creative freedom to approach it how you will. You may use anything we’ve discussed in class and anything I wrote on the board. I also encourage you to reflect on the films we’ve watched and your responses to them as you figure out your stance. No outside research are required, but you may incorporate it if you’d like. If you’d like to quote from somewhere, you may, but you are not required to do so. I want to hear your voice. Challenge yourself and have fun!





  • 3-4 pages
  • MLA
  • definitions and examples
  • clear thesis, argument, topic sentences


***Note: There is no draft for this essay. You are turning in your one and final copy on the due date. Please print the rubric from the previous essay (see Canvas) and staple it to the back of your essay.




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