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Reality and value assumptions philosophy

This graded assignment is based primarily on the following debate from the “New York Times” for which a link is provided below:  (I have also copied and pasted most of this debate into another document for which I provide a link in Blackboard Learn.  This second link should be easier to print, if you should want to print out the debate.)


PART I:  Frame of Reference and some reality and value assumptions of Rachel Dolezal:  4 points

Since the debate in the “New York Times” on “How Fluid is Racial Identity?” was sparked, in part, by a controversy revolving around Rachel Dolezal, you should research who Rachel Dolezal is, and what the controversy involved.  In doing this, you should use at least 2 sources, in order to type several paragraphs on the background information on her that comprises her “frame of reference”.  You must include citations for all your sources, and your citations must include the web addresses (URL’s).  If you do not include citations, you will receive no credit for this question.

In addition to her “frame of reference”, you should discuss several of her own reality and value assumptions that seem to be partly informed or influenced by her frame of reference.  You need not include many of her assumptions.

PART II:   Reality and Value Assumptions:  16 points Total (question #1:  12 points; question #2: 4 points)

1)       After reading the above debate on whether or not racial identity is fluid,  type an approximately 2 – 3 page essay double-spaced that discusses some of the important value assumptions and reality assumptions of any 3 of the people participating in this debate (out of the 6 participants).  Although you do not need to discuss all of the assumptions of the three people whom you select, you should make sure you include some of the most important assumptions; that you include both reality and value assumptions and label which is which; that you include any important implicit (unstated, implied or hidden) assumptions that each of these people holds; and that you label which of these implicit assumptions are value assumptions and which are reality assumptions.  You are required to include both value and reality assumptions from each of the 3 people you select, although, in some cases, many of the assumptions may be implicit.

You should also discuss which reality and/or value assumptions the 3 participants you have selected share (if any), and which of their reality and value assumptions are the most different from one another.  

Your essay may be longer than 3 pages double-spaced, but should not be excessively long.   I will not accept essays that are shorter than 1 full page double-spaced of at least 22 lines.


In your essay, you should make clear which assumptions are value assumptions and why; which are reality assumptions and why; and how you made your decisions.  Although you are permitted to start with direct quotes from the debate, you should not rely only on direct quotes.  Instead, extract the assumptions from the quotes, and from the context in which they were found, in order to also include implied (that is, unstated) assumptions. After all, the most controversial assumptions are sometimes hidden and not explicit. If necessary, rephrase the assumptions in your own words in order to highlight how they are either value or reality assumptions.  Remember that we are not so much analyzing quotations, as trying to find the underlying assumptions each participant holds.


2)      (4 points):  Then in a separate essay type several paragraphs (double-spaced) on your own response to the above NY Times debate, taking into consideration the situation and controversy revolving around Rachel Dolezal.  In discussing your own response, you are required to include some of your own reality and value assumptions in respect to racial identity.  Your essay should be approximately 1- 1.5  double-spaced pages but may be longer.  Include any assumptions you might have held about race or racial identity before reading the debate and before reading about Rachel Dolezal, and then after reading the debate and after researching the frame of reference of Rachel Dolezal.   In other words, have any of your assumptions changed, and, if so, how or why?  (If there are other reasons that your assumptions may have changed, feel free to include these in your essay.)   Make sure you label which of your own assumptions are value assumptions and which of them are reality assumptions.  In doing so, consider “what do I think should be the case when it comes to racial identity?  What do I think Rachel Dolezal should or should not have done?”  These are your value assumptions.  Then consider, “how do I think the world or this society really works when it comes to race and racial identity?”  “What do I think “race” and “racial identity” are?  These are your reality assumptions.  Remember that I am asking you about your personal assumptions.  If you do not label which are your value assumptions and which are your reality assumptions, you will not receive credit for your answer.





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