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The first paper assignment will require that you develop an original argument about an issue around which there is some legitimate debate.  You will need to (1) begin by identifying a key issue or problem about which there is some controversy or disagreement, (2) then you can outline the position of each side of the argument (there may be two or multiple sides), (3) finally, you will need to come down decisively on one side of this particular controversy or another and state your original reasons for coming to your particular conclusion.  Thus, there are really three steps to this assignment:

Step 1: describe the issue and why it is important.

Step 2: Establish that there are indeed multiple sides to it.

Step 3: Develop your own independent argument in favor of one of these sides.

In this paper, you should be making your case purely based on logic and reason, not on facts and research.  This is a purely argumentative assignment, not a research assignment.  For ex, if you were to choose the topic of torture-the issue, that is, of whether torture is always wrong or whether it is sometimes morally permissible-you would not make your argument by citing facts about torture (how effective it is, how widespread it is, etc.).  You should instead focus purely on issuesraised by this central problem.  For ex: if we resort to torture, does it make us no better than our enemies?  Might the use of torture cause more problems than it solves in the long term?  Is the use of torture really likely to save lives? Etc. 

-Your paper should include a thesis statement somewhere in your first paragraph that clearly identifies not only your position on the issue in problem, but the reasons behind it as well.  For ex: "My argument is that torture should be allowed in some circumstances because it could save lives, it only harms criminals, and we have a responsibility to prevent atrocities and attacks from occurring." 

-While you will not need to cite facts, you will need to summarize the positions of people on various sides of one particular debate.  This will require that you represent their positions accurately and fairly.  For ex: "Many people take the position that torture should never be permitted.  These people argue that torture is excessively cruel and that it is not effective." 

-Some issues that you may consider as your choice of subject: torture, war and pacifism, capital punishment, conscientious objectors and desertion, animal cruelty, war crimes, drone strikes, nuclear weapons, gun control, the right of self-defense, human cloning, the responsibility of individual soldiers and citizens in acts of war, just and unjust wars, environmentalism, violence in video games or in the media. 

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