Written Assignments

The Culture Defense


Web Resources for This Assignment

What is Culture?
Authors: Richard Law, Eric Miraglia
Complex Definitions

What do you think culture is?

   This assignment is about making decisions and learning to construct your own understanding of material that you're learning. I want you to examine the What is Culture? module very carefully and weigh all the separate notions of what culture. You are then to construct your own definition of culture by using elements from several definitions or discussions of culture that you encounter in the module. When you use elements from these definitions, evaluate them carefully. Write down what you think the strengths and weaknesses of these definitions are.This definition of culture will make up the first paragraph of your essay.
   In the second paragraph of your essay, you are to use your definition of culture to take a position on the issue of the culture defense. The only material that you can us to support your argument about the culture defense is your own definition of culture. Nothing else can be introduced, unless you're dealing with other people's definitions of culture to refute their position.

The Culture Defense

   The "culture defense" is one of the divisive topics in legal theory and discussion. When a person from another culture, say, Islam or Japan, is charged with a crime in the United States, it may be possible that the "crime" is perfectly normal behavior in the culture they come from. This is not necessarily an "ignorance" defense (ie, I didn't know what the law was), which is inadmissable as a defense. It is deeper than that—the culture defense essentially argues that the person was engaging in deeply ingrained behaviors sanctioned and even encouraged by their cultural background. In some cases, the culture defense is used to argue that the law should not be applied to certain cultural subgroups. Your job is to take a general position on this issue. What arguments can you mount for or against the culture defense? How do you deal with the inherent inequality that the culture defense posits for different cultural groups?

Grading

   This essay is about one thing: joining ideas with the application or use of those ideas. Your job in the first part of the essay is to make a decision about a complex subject by choosing among different and contrary definitions and discussions. The second part of the essay is about applying your decision to a specific problem. This essay, then, is about application of information. You will be graded in how well you unify your essay, that is, how well you employ the material in the first part of your essay to its application in the second part. The best essays will apply every part of your discussion of the meaning of culture to the question of the culture defense; the worst essays will apply nothing from your discussion of culture, or apply only the conclusions of that discussion, to the second argument.

Learning Skills: Complex Definitions

   Attached to this assignment is a learning skills module on complex definitions. You may want to read over the material in putting together your essay.

You should submit your assignment
using WebUniversity
at http://webu.wsu.edu.



Your Name:
Your email address:
Title of your submission:
Submission: