Monday, October 10, 2011

Journal #5 – from Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense” (p.95-6)

1. Identify the specific argument that Paine is making in each paragraph. For each of the arguments, identify whether Paine is making an emotional, ethical, or logical appeal and suggest an effective counterargument.

Thomas Paine is arguing that the Americans must stand up against the tyranny of Britain. The longer they wait to gain independence, the more glorious their triumph will be. Their freedom will be highly rated if they take the necessary steps towards independence.
Paine focuses on emotional appeal, to get the readers fired up over the emotions of independence, not the logic of the situation.
An effective counterargument is that since Britain is the mother country of the American colonies, they have the right to tax the colonies.

The argument that Thomas Paine is making is his secret opinion that God the Almighty will not let military powers destroy people who have tried to avoid war by every method that wisdom could have invented. He will protect the peaceful people, and not give them up to the devil.
Paine is making an ethical appeal. He bases his argument mainly on religion and the feelings of God and himself. Paine hints at the Americans as being morally superior over the British.
My suggestion for a counterargument would be, if the King of Britain believed that God gave him his power to rule, why would such a God protect the Americans, who are Britain’s enemy? If God is the leading force behind the British, why would he protect the enemy?

The argument that Paine makes is that war between America and Britain is an inevitable event. Why not get the war out of the way, and not have your children fight? Americas will never be happy until the gain their own independence and freedom from Britain.
Paine is making an ethical appeal. Fight the war now, for the children. Take the burden upon yourself and do not let your children bear the stresses and losses of war.
An effective counterargument would be what would happen if the next generation had no parents because they lost them all in the war? If the war is fought now, what dangers and risks are you taking that could have serious effect your children’s generation.

The argument Paine is making is that we should fight the Britain just as we should fight a thief who breaks into our homes. He is using an analogy to relate the king to a thief.
Paine is making an emotional appeal. He feels as if the king of Britain is a thief and his character is appalling. He believes that the widows, orphans, and the ghosts of the dead America, will come after the king and get revenge on the king because he deserves it.
An effective counterargument would be to argue that the King is not a thief, and he possesses many effective and useful powers.

2. Can you identify any of the logical fallacies that we discussed in Paine’s arguments? If so, which ones? Overall, what do you feel are the strengths and weaknesses of Paine’s arguments?

• Non-Sequiter – Paine jumps from taxing, to slavery. There is no logical sequence.

• Sentimental Appeal – Thomas Paine is trying to get the reader’s minds away from the logic of the situation, and appeal to the emotion of gaining independence.

• Aphorism – Paine uses many clever and wise statements about what life will be like without the British.

• Dogmatic – Paine states that God is on the American’s side, which cannot be proven.

• Ad Hominem – Paine attack’s the King of Britain and relates him to “a common murderer”, “a highwayman”, and a “housebreaker”. He attacks the king of Britain personally. What kind of murderous person would ask God for help?

• Begging the Question – If God will not give the Americans up to the British, why would the British ask God for help? It cannot be proven that God will not give up the Americans to the British.

• Hyperbole – “No a man lives on the continent…” No man lives in America that does not believe that America should be free from Britain. Paine makes a very broad assumption here and cannot prove that all Americans are for the war against Britain.

• False Dichotomy – Paine makes the assumption that either you have peace between two countries or war. There is no happy medium.

• Faulty Analogy – Comparing the King to a thief would be a faulty analogy because it is not a fact that the king is a thief. Paine and a majority of the Americans emotionally feel that the king is a thief.

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