On Health Concepts and Distinctions

Format Guidelines:

Roughly five pages (not including bibliography page), approximately1400-1500 word count (1500 is the strict max), double spaced, 12pt Times New Roman font, with standard 1” margins.

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Sources used must be cited; this includes both in-text citations and a bibliography. Course readings, lecture notes, and outside sources may be used as references to support your position. Avoid lengthy quotes; we want to hear your position and reasoning on the issue.


There is a minimum of one source for this paper (from the course readings), which needs to be included in the required bibliography. You can either use only course readings or you can conduct additional research. An “A” grade paper can be written with just one source, so it’s up to you to decide whether additional sources would be useful for your argumentation.


Include only your name and student ID# at the top of the page (single spaced, left or right side is fine).


Include a word count (this includes in-text citations, but not the bibliography), placed at the bottom of the 5th (or final) page of your writing, and before your bibliography page.


The paper must be uploaded to Canvas (in Assignments); please only upload Word (.doc) or PDF (.pdf) formatted papers.


You may choose a title for your paper if you like – can be included as a single line on the first page, but it is not required (please do not use a title page – it just encumbers grading your papers on Canvas).


Writing Prompt:

Thus far in the course, we have been exploring the philosophical issues presented by the concept of ‘health’ in the biomedical and broader biological sciences. We have heard from authors such as Boorse, Whitbeck, Wakefield, and Kingma, amongst others, who have introduced us to variety of positions on the topic. Yet health is a concept that comes with a diverse set of associated and related concepts, such as ‘disease’, ‘disorder’, ‘illness’, ‘injury’, as well as various distinctions, such as “value-free or value-laden”, ‘physiological or mental’, ‘individual or social’, or ‘naturalistic or normative’.

For this paper, choose ONE of these main concepts or distinctions listed above in bold that you would most like to discuss in relation to the concept of health (please pick only one as your main focus). The main task of this paper is to formulate an argument regarding your chosen concept or distinction through both negative and positive argumentation, in order to help us better understand its relation to the ‘health’ concept (we’ll call this the “Standard Option”. For an “Alternative Option”: If you prefer to focus the paper to just one form of argumentation, a purely critical (negative argument only) paper is another way to approach the assignment.

For the Standard Option, you will need to both argue against an existing claim regarding your chosen concept or distinction (this is your negative argument) as well as argue in support of a particular claim (your positive argument – what you argue for). For your negative argument, you should choose a claim to argue against from one of the course readings (this is required for both options). For your positive argument, you should do your best to offer your own innovative claim in order to add to the discourse. However, you can also choose to support or strengthen an existing claim from one of the readings (either the same reading, or a totally different paper).

After providing both your negative and positive argumentation on the concept or distinction, you should consider an objection to your either your negative or positive argument (raise only one objection). If you choose the Alternative Option, please consider an objection to your negative argument. Think of it this way; after you have made your own addition to the discussion, consider how a reasonable person might disagree with what you’ve presented to the dialectic. This ‘reasonable person’ could be one of the authors we have read; knowing how they have argued in their papers, you can imagine how they might raise an objection to what you have argued for. Then, provide a response to their concern or objection from your own perspective again (but feel free to cite others to help substantiate your response).


Tasks to complete for this paper:

In the introductory paragraph, clearly indicate what you have chosen to discuss, i.e. the concept “disorder”, and provide a brief intro on that concept/distinction. Then state what your positive and negative argumentative claims (just your negative argument claim for the Alternative Option) will be, i.e.
“I argue that the “disorder” concept should not include x when determining a health concern. I then argue that disorder is a concept that should be constrained to y conditions.” These claims put together are your thesis statement for the paper.


STANDARD OPTION: Argue against an existing claim for your negative argument, by providing at least one clear reason not to accept that claim. Then, argue for your positive claim, providing at least one clear reason in favor of accepting your claim. ALTERNATIVE OPTION: only provide a negative/critical argument against an existing claim from a course reading.


You must include at least one objection, as well as a response to that objection. The way you choose to incorporate the objection/response task into the structure of the paper is up to you. Both objection and response can usually be accomplished in either one paragraph or in two separate ones; your choice.


Finish the paper with a concluding paragraph. This can be a brief summary of what you have discussed and a restatement of your thesis, now that you have defended your position.


Grading/Assessment: (total points from scoring below = your percentage score on the paper)

Clarity (10 points total):

4pts for correct formatting (TNR font, double spaced, 1” margins, citations, bibliography)
4pts for writing mechanics (paragraph & sentence structure, grammar, punctuation)
2pts for clearly identifying the chosen concept or distinction

Accuracy (5 points total):

2pts for providing two sources and a bibliography
3pts for accurate representation of sources, along with proper in-text citation practices

Critical Reasoning/Persuasiveness (10 points total):

2pts for including your thesis statement in the first paragraph
2pts for negative argument (becomes 4pts in Alternative Option)
2pts for positive argument
2pts for objection/response to your position (stated in the thesis)
2pts for conclusion

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