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Essay Topic or Journal with Everything: James Rachels
Pick one (and only one) of the following options to write about for Reading Journal 1:
Cultural Relativism: Rachels & Rachels, Ch. 2 (pp. 15-32)
Morality and Religion: Rachels & Rachels, Ch. 4 (pp. 49-63)
Social Contract Theory: Rachels & Rachels, Ch. 6 (pp. 82-98)
Utilitarianism: Rachels & Rachels, Ch. 8 (pp. 111-125) and Manning & Stroud, pp. 39-49
This journal must be at least THREE full pages, double-spaced (regular one-inch margins all around).
This journal needs to demonstrate that you have read and thought about the material in this reading assignment.
Three elements are required for your journal:
Element 1: You must convey a sense of what the author says. That is, you need to state some of what is in the text. Pick one or two (possibly three) key ideas or even just one or two important passages on which to focus.
Element 2: You must show an understanding of those ideas and their implications. Now that you have stated a few main points from the text, you need to explain (in your own words) what these points mean (for instance: Why the issue at hand is important? What is at stake? Etc.).
Element 3: Finally, you must display critical thinking about the ideas you have just stated and explained. This element means you must personally evaluate the material. For instance: What do you think about the subject? Do you agree or disagree with the text, and why? How can we see these arguments or problems affecting day-to-day life? Have your life experiences tended to confirm or deny the ideas in the text?
Note: You should not divide your journal into separate sections for each of these three elements. Just make sure that all three elements are present in your Reading Journal, and that each has been given sufficient space and depth.
When deciding on the one, two, or three key ideas from the assigned reading, make sure that they are not merely introductory case scenarios or tangential analogies. The ideas or passages you pick should demonstrate that you can discern the most important points from the reading.
Remember, Journals should not merely summarize the information or ideas in the text. If you try to summarize too many points and ideas in the text, then that will leave little room for Elements 2 and 3. In general, the more ideas you try to cover, the more shallow the explanations and critical analyses tend to be. That is why you need to focus your journal on one or two specific points or passages from the reading assignment. This will allow you the space to develop more thoughtful explanations and critical analyses.