Find an argument broadly related to capitalism that you disagree with. Explain the argument and offer your own argument against their position. The argument can be a single article or explained across a series of articles – primary sources are best, but you can also find secondary sources that explain the argument (for example, if you found an article that summarizes Thomas Piketty’s book on inequality that would be an acceptable substitute to reading the whole book). You do not have to (and should not) argue against everything your chosen intellectual has ever written, but rather narrow it down to one specific point that you can effectively argue against in a short essay.


  1. Your chosen argument does not have to be from an economist or even an academic, but it should be relatively rigorous – choose something from a reputable source. You may not choose an argument from a politician. You also cannot pick an argument from Keynes, Hayek, Mises, Marx, Lange, or Lerner (or an argument primarily based on the work of one of these individuals – brief mentions are ok) and you cannot do Milton Friedman’s essay “The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits” or arguments related to this essay (but other Milton Friedman arguments are fine).
  2. It might make sense to think about a topic that interests you to help narrow down your search. For example, google searches of “capitalism healthcare”, “capitalism education”, and “capitalism inequality” bring up many options (feel free to go even more specific than that!). Don’t necessarily choose the first article you find. Make sure the argument comes from a reputable source and that there is enough substance to write about it for 3-4 pages.
  3. You will probably have an easier time if there is at least some common ground between your view and the idea you are arguing against. If you think the opposing ideas are totally absurd it will be difficult to find points that are convincing to somebody who believes them. You need to truly understand the other side’s arguments in order to effectively argue against them.
  4. By the end of your first paragraph, you should have a clear statement of your thesis – what is the idea you disagree with and why do you disagree with it.
  5. Make sure that you spend a good deal of time explaining the opposing argument. I should be able to understand what the other side is saying without going to the original source.
  6. In addition to sources related to your chosen argument, you must cite at least two other sources (this can include citing data that supports your argument).
  7. Paper should be at least 3 pages and no more than 4 (double spaced, 12 point font, 1 inch margins). You cannot go over the 4 page limit.
  8. Your rough draft should be submitted on Bruin Learn and given to your two peer review partners. The rough draft does not have to be fully polished, but it must be complete.
  9. Peer reviews will be due 24 hours after the rough draft is turned in. Please refer to the Peer Review questions.

Total – 200 points

Peer Review/Rough Draft – 50 Points

10 points – Submitted complete rough draft on time and sent to two peer reviewers

40 points – Participated in peer review and provided substantive comments to your peers. Please view the lecture and peer review questions for my expectations regarding peer review.

(Your peer review comments will be graded separately by the grader for this class and the grade for these 50 points will appear together on Bruin Learn)

Final Draft – 150 Points

30 points – Introduction paragraph clearly introduces the chosen intellectual and includes a clear statement of your thesis that explains what the chosen intellectual’s argument is and why you disagree with it. At the end of the introduction, I will ask myself if I think I have a pretty good idea of what the essay will be arguing. If I can’t answer yes to that question, you will not do well in this category.

45 points – Essay includes a full description of the chosen opposing argument. Essays scoring high points in this category will demonstrate a strong understanding of the other side’s views and an ability to describe these views in their own words clearly and concisely. Strong essays will also make an effort to give a fair reading to the thinker even though they disagree with their point of view. Do not argue against a straw man.

60 points – Essay offers a clear criticism of the chosen argument. You do not have to disagree with their position entirely, but you must point out the deficiencies you find in their analysis.
Strong essays will effectively synthesize at least 2 additional sources into their analysis (without simply restating the arguments of other thinkers) as well as consider potential counterarguments. Be sure that your argument relates back to the broader topic of capitalism.

15 points – Essay is logically organized and thoughtfully written. You will not be graded on grammar or style, but the argument needs to make sense. Each paragraph should have a consistent topic, and ideas should be connected in a logical way.

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