The Big Short

Assignment Requirements:
This writing assignment requires you to watch the film, “The Big Short,” conduct original research on a theme from the film, and write a research paper that analyzes that theme from multiple ethical perspectives. Alternatively, you may read the book by Michael Lewis, “The Big Short,” to complete this assignment. The film can be rented on a service like Netflix; the book is available in the CCBC library stacks.

You will then analyze the movie of your choice, examining the conduct of the parties involved from at least three principles of ethical conduct. You must choose one ethics theory from each of the three columns below to analyze the movie you have chosen to write about.







  • Universality (categorical imperative)
  • Virtue Ethics
  • Distributive/Procedural
  • Disclosure Rule
  • Rights Ethic

• Egoism
• Utilitarianism • Relativism
• Ends-Means
• Conventionalist


• Proportionality

  • Intuition Ethic
  • Doctrine of the Mean

A. Proposal Format:
 The purpose of the proposal is to make sure that you are on track for completing the writing assignment successfully. The proposal assumes that you have already watched the film, identified a theme from the film you wish to write about, and you have conducted some preliminary research on that theme.


Your Paper Proposal should:

(1) identify the three ethics viewpoints you will use to analyze the movie,
(2) list the outside research sources you have consulted in preparation for the paper,
(3) include a preliminary thesis that answers the question of whether you believe a theme from the selected film is ethical, and
(4) your research strategy for researching the film’s content.

Example preliminary theses follow (please be sure to write your own thesis):

  1. The use of antibiotics in food products is unethical because it violates the disclosure rule, but ethical because its use serves the greater good from the viewpoint of utilitarianism.
  2. Enron’s conduct in failing to properly supervise its CFO’s conduct was unethical because such conduct violates the categorical imperative, and because such conduct violates the doctrine of the mean.

Your research strategy should discuss your approach to finding reliable and relevant information on the theme you wish to write about. How will you search for materials? What databases will you use to conduct your research? How will you evaluate if materials you find are reliable, relevant and recent?

B. Draft & Final Papers:
A draft of your paper is due by 11/5/17. Feedback on your paper will be based on the Grading Rubric posted on the course site. Grading on the draft will be full credit for a good faith effort at a draft, but you will have an opportunity to incorporate the Rubric’s feedback in your revision of your paper for final submission.

Your final paper for the course is due on 12/10/17. Please submit your paper in MS Word or .pdf format through the assignment drop box on Blackboard. Late submissions cannot be accepted because of the grading deadlines for reporting grades to the College. Final papers will be graded based on the Grading Rubric.

You will need to complete original research on the ethics viewpoints/principles that you have chosen to use to analyze the movie, and on the information presented in the movie, utilizing the College library’s research collection. Please be sure to review the video walk through of how to use these research materials online. Your paper should cite a minimum of eight (8) research sources using MLA format for your citations, including at least two (2) scholarly sources from a reliable academic journal. You should include a Works Cited section at the end of your paper that identifies all research sources. You must also utilize in-line citations to your research sources within the paper.

All papers should be organized into the following sections:

  1. Introduction
  2. Thesis Statement
  3. Factual Summary of the Movie
  4. Summary of the Ethics Viewpoints
  5. Ethical Analysis of the Movie from Each Viewpoint

6. Conclusion

Your paper should be 6-8 pages in length (not counting your Works Cited section or any cover page), have 1 inch margins, be double-spaced, and in a 12 point font such as Times New Roman. Papers should be submitted in MS Word format. 

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