Life, Death and the Final Unit Writing Prompt
Darwin, Charles “Understanding Natural Selection.” NA: 64-69. Thomas, Lewis. “On Natural Death.” NA: 56-58.
Purpose: In previous eras, the resources of the world were viewed as infinite. Humanity could cull what was needed and more from the Earth, and to do so was our right and perhaps our obligation. However, today we realize that the Earth’s resources are finite and that we have already overstepped the limits of those resources in ways that may have caused irreparable harm. Both readings discuss death as part of the natural order, implicitly acknowledging that some life forms must die for others to live. The weak and sickly no longer need be weeded out through disease thanks to breakthroughs in modern medicine; survival of the fittest is no longer the rule of life. The result is an ever-increasing global population, and, at the same time, the amount of resources we have to share are dwindling.
Writing Task: Both of the authors suggest that death is part of the natural order, that survival of the fittest is the law of life. However, we live in an era where medical knowledge has given humanity the possibility of triumphing over the natural order to the extent that natural selection may no longer be applicable. With this in mind, write an essay that addresses the following prompt:
Should we select for certain traits in humans that we find desirable? Explain why or why not.
Tips: What human traits would best serve contemporary society? Have the skills and traits that humanity most values changed over the eons? How do we best preserve those traits? Do we encourage certain traits in our society today? If so, how are those traits encouraged? Should we limit the number of children born to any one family? Should there be exemptions to any such a limitation? Also, think of the role of death in terms of population control. Are there any dangers inherent in allowing populations to grow unchecked? Are there ethical issues that should be taken into consideration? Should people with desirable traits have easier access to health care? Consider how the function of natural selection works for social animals.
Be sure to clearly outline and explain the reasons you employ in your text. Both of the readings touch upon the role that death plays in life. Use the readings to support your argument; do not use your argument to support the claims found in the readings. Use the sequence of assignments (pre-readings, in-class writing activities, journals, discussion questions, and summaries) to help you start your essay and provide supporting details for your argument.
Directions: Develop a clear thesis for your essay that is supported by both of the readings with quotes, paraphrasing, or summaries to support your claim and line of reasoning. Provide a Works Cited page. This essay should be guided by analysis rather than personal narrative. Essays must be 4-5 pages typed in 12 point Times New Roman font, be double-spaced, and have one-inch margins all around. Completion of all drafts is mandatory to complete this unit.
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