Wednesday, November 1, 2017

“The Case for Torture” Persuasive Essay

Evaluating the Argument "The Case for Torture"
Critical thinking is one of the best logical studies that lets the people analyze and evaluate the level of logical strength of information. As for each one of us is surrounded by numerous units of information that we receive every day it is the subject of great importance to be able to recognize the degree of validity of this information. The early logical studies of ancient times founded by Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle were the first sciences used to analyze and evaluate the information. Nowadays the critical thinking teaching is widely used for this purpose.

In the present paper I will make an attempt to logically analyze and evaluate a particular argument stated within an article “The Case for Torture” by Michael Levin. Michael Levin is a well-known philosophy professor in the City College of New York. He is known not only for his teaching but as well for his writings. Levin is the author of a great number of critical articles and stories where he expresses his point of view. In his acute writings the author discusses politically incorrect items oftentimes.

“The Case for Torture” is the article that discusses the possibility to use tortures in some separate exceptional situations. To my mind the main thought described by the author in this work is rather good. In many issues Levin mentions in this work there is a certain sense. I agree with the author in a majority of thoughts he expresses here. However my purpose for now is not to describe my personal emotions but to critically analyze and evaluate the argument in “The Case for Torture” according to the rules of philosophy, logic, and critical thinking.

In the beginning I need to put the information stated in the work in the standard form in order to make the further process easier. As for there are very few articles and stories that are already put in the form of logical argument (premise-premise-conclusion), I need to identify premises and conclusions of this argument between the great number of information units offered. The main arguments provided by Michael Levin in this work are the following:

Tortures are inadmissible in most situations,
There exist exceptional cases among situations,
Thus, tortures are admissible in exceptional cases.
Torturing humans is intolerable,
Terrorists are not humans,
Thus, torturing terrorists is tolerable.
Violence is bad,
Tortures and mass murder are violence,
Mass murder is more violent than tortures,
Thus, tortures are better than mass murder.

Since I put the argument in the standard form of premise-conclusion sequence it is possible now to analyze and evaluate it. The major step in this task is identifying the validity and strength of the argument. From this point there exist several criteria for argument analyzing. It may be either deductive or inductive, and subsequently it may be either valid or invalid. The deductive validity of an argument is conditioned by the presence of a strict logical structure and a logical consistency of premises and conclusion. Deductively valid argument has a form of “if the premises are true then the conclusion is true”. Inductive argument is the one where there may not appear a deductive validity however the conclusion may still be logically true. Inductively strong arguments are oftentimes deductively invalid. In the current argument I am analyzing there are several cases with diverse forms. Argument 1 is deductively invalid still is strong inductively. It is because the conclusion here does not follow logically from the premises but the possibility of true conclusion is very high. Argument 2 is a logically valid deductive argument. Argument 3 is also valid deductive argument. It is because the premises and the conclusion in these arguments are strictly logical (A is X; B is not A; thus B is not X).

The next necessary part of every argument analyzing and evaluating is testing it for fallacies. Fallacies very often occur in various types of information distribution. Our speech, written texts, various argumentation, conversation, and debates may oftentimes suffer from diverse kinds of logical fallacies. They may occur even when people try to be logically consistent. Thus any argument we try to evaluate may also suffer from fallacies. However the present case is not very demonstrative from this point. Michael Levin is a good philosopher and he is of no doubt aware of what logical fallacies are. He knows all their types and avoids them in his writings. I was looking for two types of fallacies his text, the either/or fallacy (false dilemma) and the appeal to authority. These types of fallacies are very often used within the arguments covering political subjects. The false dilemma provides a reader with only two concrete options to choose from not considering any other ones (A is good; B is bad; thus, not A is bad). The appeal to authority usually states conclusions as told by authorities (authority A says it is true; thus it is true). Although these types of fallacies very frequently occur within the texts that touch serious political questions, Levin avoided them in his argument.

The next step of argument evaluation demands testing the argument for truth and completeness. It means in simple words to analyze whether the information provided in the argument is true and whether the entire argument makes the complete statement. On this stage it is important to receive a competent information on the topic and to compare it with the one presented. In the current case I consider the argument absolutely true. This opinion is relied on my personal experience and beliefs as well as on the general knowledge. The completeness of this argument is also seems to present in the text. The author gives the premises and follows with conclusions based on them. Although some parts of argument may be hidden in the present situation still the argument to my mind is true and complete.

The final stage in the process of evaluating the argument is putting together the results of each step of evaluating and making the overall judgement. The present argument contains of 3 arguments of standard form. Two of them are deductively valid, and one is inductively strong. Although I was looking for certain kinds of fallacies there are no visible fallacies in the arguments. The argument is true, complete, and logically consistent. My overall impression is good. The judgement of the argument I analyzed and evaluated in the current paper is positive.

The analysis and evaluation of the argument is a process that demands unprejudiced and biases-free attitude towards it. It is difficult sometimes to take the argument objectively because your personal attitude to the subject is connected with some emotions. In the present case I had to critically evaluate the writing of Michael Levin where the author expresses his opinion on the subject of tortures absolutely similar to mine. Probably this kept me from being too critical. However I still judged his argument from the standpoint of logic and critical thinking.

My current paper will not be complete if I do not say some words about my impression about the author’s logical writing style. Being a philosopher and very good writer Michael Levin is a master of logic. I think that any fallacies the reader may find in his works are deliberately put there by the author. The deductive validity and inductive strength of his arguments are the matter of relevance of the certain issue Levin discusses. I do not say that the author is perfectly logic. But his present article demands very few critical thinking skills to recognize the truth of his arguments, as for the subject of response to mass terrorism that the author discusses here is very close nowadays to all the human beings.

Bassham, M., Irwin, J., Nardone, T., and Wallace, R. Critical Thinking: A Student’s Introduction. McGraw Hill Publishing, 2001.

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