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Journal #1: Instructions and Requirements

Objectives: This journal assignment is designed to guide you through the process of analyzing a moral issue in preparation for writing a formal paper. You will

identify the most important moral dimensions of the issue, and begin organizing your thoughts.

Focus on these readings:

�� Husak, ���Four Points About Drug Decriminalization���

�� de Marneffe, ���Against the Legalization of Heroin���

Requirements: [estimated time to complete: 60-80 minutes]

1. Answer the questions below. Details are provided to help guide your thinking. The length of your answers will vary, but they should be thoughtful, show

attention to the questions, and go beyond the most obvious and simplistic aspects of this complex issue.

2. You must provide AT LEAST 4 QUOTES from the assigned readings to connect them to the texts (that���s 4 quotations total for the assignment; not 4 for each


3. The topic is Drug Legalization. PLEASE SPECIFY what drugs you���ll be talking about (ex: legalizing marijuana but leaving heroin, cocaine, meth illegal. If you���re

talking about marijuana, please specify if for medical, recreational, or both uses.).

***DO NOT put your name on the document you upload to Blackboard***


What to consider:

1. A) Who are the main stakeholders in this issue

B) Identify any special relationships or role-specific obligations among the stakeholders

a) A stakeholder is a person, group, or entity likely to be affected by an action or lack of action, either directly or indirectly. This might include non-human

species or ecosystems.

b) Role-specific obligations are duties we owe one another only because of a special relationship. For example, doctors have role-specific obligations to patients to

preserve their privacy. Parents have role-specific obligations to take care of their children.

2. What benefits should we seek in solving this issue, and for whom What kinds of harms should we worry about, and to whom

a) Kinds of benefits might include: physical, health, economic, reduction of current harms, increase of liberty, granting more equality, increase of happiness, by

what definition of happiness, etc.

b) Kinds of harm might include: physical, health, loss of dignity or autonomy, economic, denial of rights, decrease of liberty or equality, decrease of happiness,


3. Is anyone���s autonomy at stake in this issue Are any rights being violated, or liberties being limited If we need to limit anyone���s autonomy, do we have

sufficient justification for doing so

To respect autonomy means to respect a person���s ability to make decisions for oneself and to conduct one���s own life. Some limits to autonomy might be acceptable, such

as in the case of children under 18, or in case of immediate danger. The idea of rights sometimes applies here, because rights protect autonomy from government


4. A) If you were the least advantaged or least powerful person in this situation, what would you hope the outcome would be for you Are there any other

disadvantaged/powerless people in this situation

B) Who has the most power in this situation, and is that power legitimate

�� For 4A: Imagine that you���re the least advantaged person in the situation, the one with the fewest resources, the least power, the quietest voice���all through no

fault of your own. What would you hope for in this situation

�� For 4B: Some power might be disproportional, but legitimate. For example, the government may be justified in limiting liberty in order to protect vulnerable

populations. Power is not always governmental. Our behavior is shaped by many forces outside our control, such as corporate practices, organized crime, and the power

of experts to shape our understanding. These forces don���t necessarily have a legitimate or justifiable claim to power over us.

5. Now, think about what values and fears we all share with regard to this issue. What do you think we all hope for in resolving this problem What potential

outcomes do you think we all fear about this issue

This is where you���re looking for common ground for solving problems.

6. Now that you���ve thought about this a bit: instead of just two sides to this issue, what might be another way of looking at it Is there a larger question at


Resist thinking in binaries: Instead of just two sides to the issue, is there a middle path, or another alternative More than three Maybe there���s a larger problem

common to all these perspectives that���s going unnoticed

7. A) Briefly state your position on this issue.

B)How might someone argue against you

For 7B, think about the very best argument you���ve heard against your position; maybe something that almost made you change your mind. That���s the one you want to think

the most about.

8. Is there one perspective that���s particularly difficult for you to understand or empathize with What questions about this are difficult for you What ideas are

you struggling with

Think about the underlying philosophical questions involved in this issue. Perhaps there���s a question you���re still undecided about, or a position you find puzzling.

These might be questions about what kind of life is more desirable than another, the role of government in shaping people���s personal choices, etc.

�� ***DO NOT put your name on the document you upload to Blackboard***

�� Organize the assignment how you like, as long as you answer all 7 questions.

�� Turn it in on Blackboard, but bring it with you to class for the writing workshop the day after it���s due. It will serve to start your rough draft.


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