The Ethics Journal Option

Contact: Dr. Jan Garrett

Last updated: August 17, 2002

Read the discussion of writing on the FAQ page, especially the part beginning with "Ethics Writing for Yourself."

The Ethics Journal Option offers credit for this sort of relatively informal ethics writing during the first month of the course. You are not required to take advantage of this option. For reasons explained on the FAQ page, you are urged to do the sort of writing that it would involve even if you do not choose to turn in that writing for journal credit.

The journal should consist of dated entries, handwritten, on at least eight separate days, in a bluebook or a bound notebook. No blank lines should appear, except for one line between dated entries. For the most part you should use complete sentences and paragraphs. (I am not expecting perfect grammar or spelling but evidence of a real effort to be intelligible. If I cannot understand you, then I must doubt whether you understand what you are saying.)

You may correct and edit yourself, but leave the original writing. If it gets too messy, rewrite a passage so it is clear. Of course, words or sentences that have been superseded by alterations or rewritings do not count toward the total word count.

If you fear I won’t be able to read your handwriting or wish to present a second draft that is slightly more polished than your first and is typed or computer printed, doing so is fine with me. In fact it is a good idea, but not required provided that your handwriting is legible and your sentences are intelligible. If you do turn in a typed or computer printed second draft, please submit the handwritten journal along with it.

Anything copied from handouts, the textbook, or other sources should be quoted (use quote marks or some other standard way of indicating quotations) and are not to be counted as part of your own informal writing.

Do not take class notes directly into the notebook, or if you do, clearly label them as classroom notes and do not consider them part of the journal. That is, they should not be included in the word count.

You may put such notes into your own words and enter them in that form into your journal, quoting, if you must do so, to preserve a few original words taken down in class. In that form, they count toward the word count, minus any quoted text, of course. Reflecting on them (analyzing them, discussing their meaning, truth or falsity, logical consequences, evidence for or against them, etc.) is encouraged.

Reflecting on aspects of the reading assignments is strongly encouraged.

Reflecting on relevant newspaper or magazine or internet articles or passages in other books that have not been explicitly assigned or are part of the textbook is acceptable. Limit this, however, to no more than 25 per cent of your journaling because a significant portion of the journaling should involve discussion of the articles in the textbook.

Reflecting on insights you have gained in conversation or correspondence from other individuals (who are not ethics professors) is all right, but limit this to no more than 25 per cent of your journaling for the reason discussed in the previous paragraph.

For early feedback on the Journal

You may show me what you have in your journal after you have written a couple entries (page or more). I will let you know whether you are doing the right sort of thing and try to give you some helpful tips.

Credit for the Ethics Journal

Given the informal and essentially preparatory nature of the writing in the Ethics Journal, it cannot be given the same weight as the major papers. The major papers are expected to be meet stiffer requirements (their nature will be described in detail later), and to demonstrate that they have been more carefully crafted--drafted and revised, perhaps two or three times, with arguments carefully checked, documentation of sources fully provided, etc.

I am prepared to allocate 10 or 20 per cent of the course grade to the Ethics Journal. (Please indicate whether you are taking the 10 Percent option or the 20 Percent option.)

  • For the 10 per cent option at least eight pages (at about 300 words per page) of original journaling will be expected.

  • For the 20 per cent option at least sixteen pages (at the same rate) will be expected.

    Please give me a word count, not including any of the material that was supposed to be excluded as explained above. I suggest a word count on each page, with a total at the end.

    In figuring your semester grade, so as to make the total possible points earned total 100 percent, I will have to decrease the weight that would otherwise be given to the exams and the major papers. I will decrease that weight in a roughly equal manner across the four items.