In this concluding exercise for our course, your assignment is to compose an essay that’s around 1,000 words long addressing the following. (For a briefer model of the kind of essay you’re being asked to write here, review the section “Analyzing an Argument” in our Module 9 Overview.)
Read again the two essays from Module 5 on the US.’s dropping of atomic bombs on Japan – one by Historian A and one by Historian B. Choose one of those two arguments — either the one advanced by Historian A or the one advanced by Historian B — and compose an essay in which you discuss the argument, scrutinizing, analyzing and critiquing both its content and its form.
Note: You’re not being asked to make an argument of your own here. Your assignment is to analyze the argument put forth by one of these two authors.
Recall that each essay has numbered paragraphs. (Also, bear in mind that the paragraph numbers, which appear at the beginning of each paragraph, are distinct from the superscript numbers that appear within paragraphs. Those superscript numbers refer to Endnotes, a list of which follows the text of each Historian’s essay.)
After a brief introduction explaining what you’re writing about, go numbered paragraph by numbered paragraph and ask yourself, regarding each paragraph, what its primary purpose is, which is to say, what does the paragraph contribute to the overall argument? Try to put yourself in the position of the writer — the Historian whose argument you’re analyzing – when you do this. Consider the paragraph’s function in the larger context of the particular Historian’s purpose, which is to persuade her/his audience that the US was or was not justified in dropping the atomic bombs on Japan.
About each paragraph, ask the following questions about purpose and make note of your answers. (What you judge to be the most significant of these notes will inform the essay you compose):
–Is this paragraph’s primary purpose to assert a claim and/or to refute another claim?
— Is this paragraph’s primary purpose to provide background information?
— Is this paragraph’s primary purpose to provide support for the claim (or the refutation of another claim)?
Consider the form of support provided
–If the paragraph’s primary purpose is to provide support for the claim (or the refutation of another claim), then what is the nature of that support? That is, does the support take the form of any of the following?
An appeal to ethics (If so, try to name the kind of ethics the Historian has in mind.)
Deductive reasoning (If so, then explain or diagram the deduction in question.)
Inductive reasoning (If so, then explain the probabilistic thinking involved.)
Analogy (If so, then explain what two things are proposed as being alike.)
A logical fallacy or propaganda device? (If so, then give the name of the fallacy and briefly explain how it manifests in the Historian’s text.)
A rhetorical appeal such as ethos (the writer’s credibility), logos (logic and reasoning), or pathos (emotion)?
[Note: It’s possible a given paragraph does none of the above.]
Consider the quality of support
–Now, once you’ve identified the kind of support (if any) a given paragraph provides, then evaluate the quality of that support. Consider questions like:
If deduction is involved, is the deduction valid? Is the argument sound?
If probabilistic thinking is involved, do the probabilities, statistics or samples meet
the criteria for such reasoning?
If an analogy is involved, is it a good analogy, or a poor or even false analogy?
If a fallacy or propaganda device is involved, how does that impact the claim?
If a rhetorical appeal is involved, is it persuasive? And if so, how or why?
If one or more ethical issues is involved, does it impact the claim strongly or
–Additionally, check all the endnotes against the parts of the argument they’re linked to in order to confirm whether or not they effectively and/or reasonably flesh out what’s said in the body of the argument.
Write up what you think is most significant regarding the matters described above in essay form. This portion of your essay should be around 3.5 – 4 pages in length (which is about 825-1,000 words).
Then consider our recent study of Erikson’s essay, “Of Accidental Judgments and Casual Slaughters.” Does anything in Erikson agree or disagree with what your Historian of choice argues? Or does Erikson offer a different perspective from either Historian A or B? And if, so what is that third perspective? Write up this additional piece in about 100 words.
Finally, close with an overall evaluation of your Historian’s argument. What is the argument’s strongest point? What is the argument’s weakest point? Do the argument’s strengths outweigh its weaknesses or vice versa? This final section should be around 75-100 words in length.
All that makes for an essay that’s about 1,000 to 1,200 words long, or about 4-5 typed double-spaced pages in length.
And indeed, this paper should be typed, double-spaced. You should refrain from using outside sources for this paper. However, you should feel free to draw on any sources we have read for class. If you feel a pressing need to use an outside source, then you must first check it with your instructor.
Wherever you quote, paraphrase or summarize a source, you must cite the source, using MLA style. MLA citation style is outlined here: https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/mla_style/mla_formatting_and_style_guide/mla_in_text_citations_the_basics.html