1-Page Philosophy Outlining

 Outline “Fallacies” pdf

“Outline 2” pdf is an example, and this outline should follow that format.

Guidlines included

Paper Outline 2
Mary Anne Warren, “On the Moral and Legal Status of Abortion”

The main view of Warren’s paper is proving why abortion is absolutely permissible.
She proves this through discussing personhood:

1. One is human in the genetic sense when one is a member of the biological species Homo sapiens.
2. One is human in the moral sense when one is a full-fledged member of the moral

community (pg.13).

After analyzing the concept of a person, Warren states, “There is no stage of fetal development at which
a fetus resembles a person enough to have a significant right to life” (pg. 14). A woman’s right to obtain
an abortion is absolute and morally justified at any stage of fetal development.

Traits most important to personhood (pg. 16):

1. Consciousness (of objects and events external and/or internal to the being), and in particular
the capacity to feel pain;

2. Reasoning (the developed capacity to solve new and relatively complex problems);
3. Self-motivated activity (activity which is relatively independent of either genetic or direct

external control);
4. The capacity to communicate, by whatever means, messages of an indefinite variety of types,

that is, not just with an indefinite number of possible contents, but on indefinitely many possible

5. The presence of self-concepts, and self-awareness, either individual or racial, or both

Now not all of these attributes must be present to be considered a person. Both 1 +2 and 1-3 would
be sufficient enough to be a person. Since a fetus satisfies none of the 5 traits, the fetus should not be
considered a person (pg. 16).

On page 17, Warren gives an interesting point: Some human beings are not people. This may be the case if
a man/woman’s consciousness is permanently obliterated but the man/woman remains alive. They would
no longer have a reasonable mental capacity. This proves the point that a fetus is a human being but not
yet a person.

1. How far advanced since conception does a human being need to be before it begins to have a
right to life by virtue, not of being fully a person as of yet, but being like a person?

2. To what extent, if any, does the fact that a fetus have the potential for becoming a person endow
it with some of the same rights?

A fetus is not fully conscious like an infant of a few months. This fetus cannot reason or communicate
messages of any sorts. A fully developed fetus is considerably less person-like than the average
mature mammal or average fish (pg. 17).

A fetus’s resemblance to a person or its potential for becoming a person does not give the fetus a right to
life (pg. 19). “A woman’s right to protect her health, happiness, freedom, and even her life, by terminating
an unwanted pregnancy, will always override whatever right to life it may be appropriate to ascribe to a
fetus, even a fully developed one.”

Infanticide is impermissible (pg. 20):

1. If a newborn infant’s parents do not want it, there are people that would like to have it.
2. People value infants and would prefer that they be preserved, even if foster parents aren’t

immediately available. Most would rather be taxed to support orphanages than allow
unwanted infants to be destroyed.

A woman’s rights override the rights of those who would like the fetus preserved while she is pregnant.
Once the infant is born, its preservation no longer violates any of the mother’s rights, even if she wants
the fetus destroyed, because she is free to put it up for adoption.

Comment [PAP1]: This piece includes more
writing, but it is still an excellent example of an

Comment [PAP2]: This is the summary of a
quite complicated argument. It would have been
appropriate for her to present the argument, or to
summarize it as she does here.

Comment [PAP3]: Usually quotes weaken an
outline; however, in comparison to the summary
she just provided, the quote provides additional

Comment [PAP4]: Outline is flexible enough to
move from more paragraph-like chunks to lists,
when appropriate.

Comment [PAP5]: Important detail necessary to
understand the piece.

Comment [PAP6]: These are longer summaries
of content. Yet the outline is controlled and clear,
moving quickly around different ideas and focusing
on what is most important.

Comment [PAP7]: This is an important
objection that the student did well to consider.

Grade: 96
Comments: Excellent job presenting this article.
Fantastic work with really dicey distinctions (i.e. the

conditions necessary for personhood). It’s easy to get

Warren wrong on these points.You also did well to
characterize her position on more minor points–for

example, how she characterizes the moral standing

of a fetus is important, as is her response to the
infanticide objection.

Paul Poenicke
Paper Outline 1
Rachels, “Some Basic Points about Arguments”

Rachels thinks that we need to understand arguments to do philosophy well (pg. 20).

Argumentdef: A chain of reasoning designed to prove something (pg. 20). Consists of premises and conclusions

What’s “follows from”? (pg. 21) It’s validity. Validitydef: If the premises are true, then the conclusion must be true. (2) is valid:
(2) All people from Georgia are famous.
Jimmy Carter is from Georgia.
Therefore, Jimmy Carter is famous.

Problem is that first premise is false. For a good argument, we want validity and soundness (valid argument with all true premises; pg. 22). Arguments can be unsound even if all premises are true (pg. 21-22).

Rachels applies his work about argument to moral skepticism (pg. 22-27), defined as the rejection of moral truth; it’s not merely the idea that we can’t know truth (pg. 22). The
Cultural Differences argument claims that there are no moral facts (pg. 23).
(4) 1. In some societies, such as among the Eskimos, infanticide is thought to be morally acceptable.
2. In other societies, such as our own, infanticide is thought to be morally odious.
3. Therefore, infanticide is neither objectively right or wrong; it is merely a matter of opinion that
varies from culture to culture.
*Problem: invalid argument; premises are what people believe and conclusion is about the way
things are. Like reasoning from views about disagreements about flat vs. roundness of the world, and
concluding the earth’s shape is just a matter of opinion (pg. 23).

Cultural Differences argument suggests that (1) one can still have a true conclusion but false premises and unsound, (2) most versions have misguided presentation of the relevant facts (see (6) on pg. 24).

Make sure you keep arguments separate. Similar arguments, perhaps with the same conclusion, rise and fall based on their own premises and reasoning (pg. 24-25).

Rachels thinks that an argument taking on a motivation for the
Cultural Differences argument, namely proof, would be valid; the argument is the
Provability Argument (pg. 25-27):
(7) 1. If there were any such thing as objective truth in ethics, we should be able to prove that some moral opinions are true and others false.
2. But in fact we cannot prove which moral opinions are true and which are false.
3. Therefore, there is no such thing as objective truth in ethics.

Argument is valid. Is it sound? Seems right—tracks how we have abortion debates. Rachels believes this is misguided because there’s a difference between (1) Proving an opinion correct and (2) Persuading others to accept your proof (pg. 27).
When it comes to premise 2, Rachels thinks it’s false. Why?
A. Abortion is always going to be hard to debate, but other ethical matters actually gain agreement (murdering innocents).
B. Your argument could be stronger than a mere opinion and still be rejected by a misguided opponent.

Guidelines for Outlines

1. Use 10 point font so that you can fit your work into one page.

2. Apply a standard format. I didn’t use bullet points, but that would be a legitimate way of taking notes as well.

3. Make sure you focus on content. Content includes: important definitions, objections, arguments, reasoning, distinctions.

4. Make sure you focus on form. The article moves from presentation of arguments to application of those principles to two major arguments for moral skepticism. I also noted that those argument are being offered as examples of what Rachel’s opponent would claim, then provided the reasons why Rachels rejected them.

5. Provide a sense of where in the document each bit of content takes place. I did so via page numbers; you might want to use sections, paragraphs, or time signatures for videos.

6. Focus on what’s important. Ask yourself:
What’s the author’s main point (conclusion)?
What sort of reasons do they use for their conclusion (premises)?
What is the paper’s purpose? Is the paper making an argument, laying out positions, presenting important terms/distinctions and applying them (as Rachels is in this paper), etc?

7. Keep your outline to one page. This will force you to hone in on what’s most important. If you can sketch out the major moves in a paper (i.e. presented content and form), then you will have done well.

8. Make sure you put identifying information on your outline (especially name of outlined author and piece).

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