Moral rationalization and reasoning

Eng. 102/N. Scarpetti                                                                           Monday 4/23/2018
The Final Essay Project Timeline and Information
This paper will largely follow the same pattern as your last paper: reading and annotating the primary text, exploring your ideas and theories in response to the claims; locating credible and relevant sources and developing an annotated bibliography to record those sources and your understanding of the issue; drafting; peer responding; and finally, revising.
For the final project of the semester, you will explore an inquiry that stems from a claim you choose to explore from Steven Pinker’s essay, “The Moral Instinct.” You have already read the essay and we have starting discussing some of the key ideas and theories put forth in his piece. Now, the final project information is provided here. You will be responsible for completing all of the assignments leading up to, and including, the paper for this final project according to the timeline attached here.  It will be up to you to manage your time accordingly so you can complete these steps of the process and to ensure a successful final paper. Late papers will not be accepted for this project.
Guidelines for your paper:

  • Define the origins of your inquiry. Introduce, summarize, and cite a quote from Pinker to show the reader where your inquiry began. This is a good way to help lead the reader into the purpose of your paper.


  • Be sure to clearly present your argument. What is your thesis/position on your topic? What is the purpose of your paper?


  • Why is your perspective significant? What new aspect and/or angle are you bringing to the discussion of this topic?


  • You are required to use four sources from your research and to use two quotes from each of those four sources to show substantial engagement with each source. Please remember to use MLA in-text citations for all of your quotes.

Your paper will need to be in the 6-7 page range (at least 6 full pages) and must use at least four (4) sources (two of these should be scholarly sources) in addition to Pinker. Remember that any paper not meeting the six full page minimum requirement will not be eligible for an A or B grade.
The final essay must include your Works Cited page and your complete Annotated Bibliography. Your Annotated Bibliography should contain a minimum of eight (8) sources to show the depth and scope of your research. As with the previous major essay, please diversify your sources. By this I mean you should use sources from peer reviewed journals of various disciplines, credible newspapers and/or magazines, credible foreign sources, and any other source such as an essay, a piece of art, a video, etc. that you believe is relevant to your research and thesis.
Monday, April 23:                  Class work with Pinker’s essay continues. Final writing project formally assigned and discussed.
Wednesday, April 25:            Assignment 3.1 due for in-class work
Friday, April 27:                     Bring your laptops to class for in-class research work.
Monday, April 30:                  Final Project Conferences – Assignments 3.2 and 3.3 due
Wednesday, May 2:              Final Project Conferences – Assignments 3.2 and 3.3 due
Friday, May 4:                      Final Project Conferences – Assignments 3.2 and 3.3 due
Monday, May 7:                    Assignment 3.4: First draft of your final paper is due in class.  Please bring two printed copies of your first draft to class on this day. Please make sure you are submitting a completed first draft. Submitting an incomplete draft means you are not meeting the expected requirements for this assignment and it makes it difficult for your peer responder to provide substantial feedback. Please do not forget to upload to Blackboard.
Wednesday, May 9:              Peer Response due in class and on Blackboard. Last day of class business.
Friday, May 11:                     Your final paper is due on Blackboard by 5:00 pm. The link will close at this time and later papers will not be accepted.
This final research paper is worth a maximum 25% toward the final grade. Please note that failure to turn in the final paper on the date and time it is due will result in an F for the course, regardless of other work completed.
Assignment 3.1: What’s your inquiry?
For Wednesday, April 25, please come to class prepared to share the following:

  • The specific idea or claim from Pinker’s essay that you are interested in exploring. Name and cite it directly.


  • What do you find interesting about this claim?


  • What are you hoping to argue in response to the idea or claim you have chosen? Are you interested in expanding and/or complicating the claim with an additional angle or are you interested in challenging the claim? Tell me what your possible inquiry is right now.

This assignment is due next class.  No need to upload to Blackboard, but required in class.
Assignment # 3.2:  A Working Annotated Bibliography
This is due at the time of your final project conference. This means I want to see all of your research up until the day of your conference. Please have at least five (5) or more sources annotated to show your work in progress. It does not mean you should stop researching, but I want to see what you have so far and how your research is developing. Please remember the research guidelines I have given throughout the semester:

  • As with previous papers please use peer reviewed journals and articles from the Healey Library databases, newspapers (foreign and/or domestic), magazines, books, films, art, essays, etc. I encourage you to be creative, yet considerate and selective, with your supporting evidence. Be sure to assess the credibility and worth of each source.


  • Try to diversify your research. Do not limit your research to one type of journal. Explore different disciplines as you did with the last research papers.


  • Use the source evaluation checklist I gave to help you decide the credibility and value of any sources that are not peer reviewed and scholarly.

As you read through sources make sure to annotate them and prepare a working annotated bibliography according to the following instructions:

  • For each source selection, prepare a citation list entry in MLA format, according to the guidelines laid out in this website: or another reputable writing website.


  • Then, under the citation listing for each selection, I would like you to write a short paragraph (8-10 sentences minimum) that does the following:
  • Explains its main idea or narrative showing that you have read and thoroughly understand the source. This is your opportunity to summarize what the article you have selected is saying, meaning, what it


  • Includes comments on the worth, effectiveness, and usefulness of the source in terms of both the topic being researched and/or your own research project. This tells the reader the relevance to your research paper. Make sure to give sufficient, relevant detail and to summarize in your own words.

This must be uploaded to Blackboard before your final project conference. I need to be able to pull it up on Blackboard to see during our conference.
Assignment # 3.3: A detailed outline of your paper
This is due at the time of your final project conference. This means you need to have a strong sense of the direction of your final paper. I want to see a clear and detailed outline that shows how the paper is developing. Your outline should include the following:

  • A short paragraph that shows your position on your topic and clearly presents your thesis.


  • A list of at least 3 ideas/points you plan to use to defend your thesis/position. Take some time to explain each point and how it connects to and supports your overall argument.


  • A list of the relevant sources that defends each of the 3 points listed above. Show me how each source supports the claim you make by showing me a quote that defends/connects with your claim or briefly summarizing the source and the connection it has to your claim.

Note:   This conference is not meant to be a brainstorming session where I give you ideas on how to proceed with your paper. This conference is for you to show me the progress of your final writing project. It is your responsibility to be prepared for the conference, which means having Assignments 3.2 and 3.3 uploaded to Blackboard before you arrive for your conference.

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