Argument Analysis Paper Read the following two essays on drug policy Gore Vidal, â??Drugsâ? (origin

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Argument Analysis Paper 
Read the following two essays on drug policy
Gore Vidal, “Drugs†(originally published in the
New York Times, 1970)
A. M. Rosenthal, “The Case for Slaveryâ€
(originally pub. in New York Times, 1989)
Note that each author uses his essay to make an
argument about drug policy in the US. Choose one of these two arguments—either
the one advanced by Vidal or the one advanced by Rosenthal–and compose an
essay in which you discuss the argument, 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 an argument put forth by one of
these two authors.
In order to do this, you must pay close
attention to the “what†and the “how†dimensions of the argument you have
chosen. “What†in this sense means the content of the argument you have
chosen—what the author claims, what his essay is about. “How†means the moves,
strategies and techniques of persuasion deployed in the argument—how it works,
how it is constructed, how it functions rhetorically.
In your paper, you should do the following four
1. Briefly summarize the argument. (Put the
“what†in a nutshell.)
2. Describe the manner in which the argument is
put forth. (Trace out the “how.â€)
3. Analyze the argument. (Examine the reasoning
and rhetoric closely.)
4. Evaluate the argument. (Point out its
strongest and weakest feature; suggest a next step.)
For further suggestions on how you might
approach the tasks listed above, see Additional Resources, below.
(Also, bear in mind that the assignment is due
at the end of week 9; in the next module–module 8–we will cover more topics,
such as rhetoric and persuasion, which are pertinent to this assignment.)
You should refrain from using outside sources
for this paper. However, you should feel free to draw on sources we have read
for class. If you’re writing about Vidal, you might get a useful insight or
piece of information from Rosenthal, or vice versa. In addition, there is background
material provided by the readings for our course which have addressed the
overall topic of argumentation and persuasion.
Wherever you draw on a source, you must cite the
source, using MLA style.
This paper should be double-spaced, with 1â€
margins all around. It should be around 4-5 pages (or about 1,000 to 1,250)
words long.
Submit your paper in the Assignments area of the
course website.
Make sure that your last name is ***** ***** the
file name, e..g., JonesArgumentAnalysis.doc
This paper is due at the end of the day 08/15a.
Argument Analysis Paper
Further Suggestions:
Regarding items 2-4 in the Argument Analysis
Paper assignment (see above), you might want to consider some of the following
questions. However, keep in mind that these are suggestions. You are not
required to address all such questions listed below. (In fact, if you tried to
do that, your paper would be much too long.) The questions listed below are
simply meant to help you focus your thinking. Look for a question or questions
that seem most appropriate for your particular analysis and make that a point
of emphasis.
2. Describe the manner in which the argument is
put forth. (Trace out the “howâ€.)
What types of evidence are emphasized—inductive,
deductive, anecdotal, analogical?
Do appeals to emotion play a prominent role?
What sort of audience does the uthor seem to
have in mind?
What seems to have necessitated the argument’s
3. Analyze the argument. (Examine the reasoning
and rhetoric closely.)
If there are deductions involved, how do they
If there is inductive reasoning involved, is it
in tune with proper procedures?
(I.e., How solid are any probabilities? What of
any samples or experimental
procedures? What of empirically derived
information or witness testimony?)
Are there underlying assumptions involved? If
so, what are they and how do they
stand up to scrutiny?
Are fallacies or propaganda techniques being
4. Evaluate the argument. (Explain strongest and
weakest features; suggest a next step.)
Do any perceptual filters significantly affect
the author’s thinking?
What is the argument’s strongest feature?
What is the argument’s weakest feature?
What is one further thing that might be done to
improve the argument or help resolve a troubling issue raised in the argument?
Background on the Authors
I’ll conclude with a little background on the
two essays: Both appeared in the New York Times, though Vidal published his
piece in 1970 while Rosenthal published his in 1989. Gore Vidal (b. 1925) has
had a long and celebrated career as a novelist, essayist and critic of American
society. He is noted for his outspoken opinions, dry humor and intimate
knowledge of American political history. A. M. Rosenthal (b. 1922) worked as a
reporter for decades, primarily for the New York Times. He is the recipient of
numerous journalism awards, including the Pulitzer Prize.