Difference between rational and irrational arguments,
1000 word essay due 4/26/10
Read Chapters 1 and 2, write an essay of at least 1000 words in which you explain the difference between rational arguments and irrational ones, drawing examples of fallacies (poor or dishonest arguments) either from our nations current debate on health care reform OR from debates on the merits of a contemporary political figure, like President Obama or former President Bush.
Your thesis statement may simply be an assertion that there is a difference between rational and irrational arguments, and that arguments about your topic (health care reform or Obama or Bush or Clinton) provide examples of fallacies (and of sound arguments, as well, if you find some that youd like to share.)
Youre only required to cite examples of irrational arguments (the fallacies described in Chapter 2) from the health care debate, but feel free also to share rational, fact-based, fallacy-free arguments if you wish. Your goal is to assess the arguments you encounter in print and electronic media (newspapers, radio, television, or websites) according to the criteria for logical argumentation in Chapter 1 and illogical argumentation (fallacies) in Chapter 2. Are these sound arguments? Is the evidence reliable? Are the conclusions logical–or do they fit the definitions of ad hominem, stacked evidence, false cause, straw man, false dilemma, bandwagon, or slipper slope fallacies? (You dont have to use them all, but youll probably discover that these in particular are used frequently in political discussions, so be on the lookout for them.)
In your essays body paragraphs, youd explain the basic qualities of a logical argument in one or two paragraphs and then youd go on to explain fallacies in two to three paragraphs, using examples of arguments for/against health care reform that seem to you to illustrate fallacies described in Chapter 2. There are many fallacies, and obviously, you cant explain them all. What youll need to do, then, is select: a few and explain each in detail, including real life examples youve encountered in your reading on the heated debates on health care reform. (Always look for fallacies when you read political opinions–or hear them expressed on talk radio. They are frequently built upon fallacious arguments.)
To recap, you will use the information from both chapters to define the qualities of each kind of argument (rational and irrational), and you will illustrate your points with examples of arguments for/against health care reform from one or more of the following: letters to the editor of the newspaper, editorials or op-ed pieces from newspapers and magazines, talk radio shows, etc.. You may consider whether most arguments you encounter are rational (Chapter 1) or fallacious (Chapter 2) and why that is so.
While you dont have to summarize all of the information in Chapters 1 and 2, you do need to show that youve read both chapters and understand their main points. This will mean that youll need to organize your essay around many of the definitions and concepts presented in those chapters, using material from other readings and your own experience only to illustrate those points. Do not write an extended personal narrative instead of addressing the ideas in Chapters 1 and 2.
Essay will be graded on content, organization (introduction ending in thesis, focused and supported body paragraphs, conclusion), and grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
MLA in text citations and Works Cited page are required