#1 = the premise will be a broad overview (what point did strawson make?)
keep it short bc if you say too much you won’t have anything for #4
You don’t have to have more than one premise or objection, the sample just had more than one because she wanted to make more points but it’s completely optional
#2= give a objection on your premise
#3= reason why/evidence or why they made the objection
#4= elaborate on #1
#5= what’s your opinion , who you think is right and why?
Essentially, the assignment is to unpack an author’s argument, state an objection to an author’s position and imagine the author’s reply. The point is to investigate the strengths and weaknesses of the author’s position, to bring imagination into the construction and critique of arguments, and to get a sense of when progress is made in philosophy —that is, when objections refute positions and when positions answer objections.
1. Source(s). Give complete bibliographic citations for the argument to which you will object to. Outline the argument in premise/conclusion form.
2. Critic’s objection. State the objection in a few concise sentences of your own words. State it as an objection; don’t leave your reader to infer the objection from the positive statement of some alternative position.
3. Critic’s argument. Reconstruct and explicate the critic’s argument for the objection. Make the argument directly support the objection in Section 2.
4. Author’s defense. Creatively imagine the likely reply of the philosopher whose position has been criticized. Make the philosopher respond directly to what you had the critic say in Sections 2 and 3.
5. Critic’s reply. Creatively imagine the critic’s reply to the author’s defense. Make the critic’s reply directly responsive to what you had the author say in Section 4.
Number the sections of your paper 1-5 (and/or label them, “Critic’s objection” etc.). This will make sure that your reader can find them and that you don’t accidentally conflate them.
6. Last, begin to adjudicate the dispute. Who is more likely right and why? Or, more modestly, whose position holds more promise or is more fruitful for this inquiry? Who has dealt more deeply and fairly with the issues? What questions would you want answered before you could adjudicate the dispute?
Supplement either side or both with your own thinking. But make it clear (in Sections 2, 3, and 5) where the historical critic ends and you begin, or (in Section 4) where the criticized author ends and you begin.
Offer more than one objection (same author, same critic). If you do so, number them so that they are easy to find. For example, number the separate objections 2.A, 2.B, 2.C, etc., the arguments 3.A, 3.B, 3.C, etc., and so on with the replies and replies to the replies.
Note: I adapted, well, cannibalized, this assignment (with permission) from Peter Suber.
SAMPLE STUDENT ASSIGNMENT
1. Benatar, David. “The Misanthropic Argument for Anti-Natalism.” 2015.
Premise 1: We have an obligation to not contribute to species that cause extreme suffering and destruction.
Premise 2: Humans cause extreme suffering and destruction.
Conclusion: We have an obligation to not create any more humans.
2. Krishnamurty’s Objection
2A: The personal value put on having a transformative experience outweighs the negative value the resulting child will have on a the rest of the world.
2B: People also choose to have a child out of obligation to their culture. A person has a greater obligation to their culture than they do to the environment and to humanity at large.
3. Krishnamurty’s Argument
2A: Some people place a lot of value on having new experiences, regardless of the actual results of the experience. Therefore, people can make rational decisions to have children is they consider that transformative experience positive in and of itself. This positive value outweighs the negative value that the new child might bring, whether that is contributing an infinitesimal amount of CO2 into the atmosphere or just by making the parent’s life miserable.
2B: People will sometimes have children because they feel like they are obligated to make sure their culture lives on, in this case there is no personal value put on having a child. The value is instead in fulfilling an obligation to the people or culture the parent holds close. The parent in this situation has a greater obligation to their culture than they do to all of humanity, so they are not morally wrong for having children.
4. Benatar’s Defense
4A: Human beings cause more damage to the world around us than any other species of animal alive, ignoring this in favor of your own personal fulfilment, by having a child, is selfish. This kind of selfishness supports his premise that humans cause terrible suffering, since selfishness leads to the kind of disregard that allows cruelty to happen.
4B: People do not have any more of an obligation to their cultures or communities than they do the state of the world. The harm done by people of all cultures is unjustifiable and cannot be allowed to continue. The sentimental value placed on cultures is not enough to justify the vast amounts of destruction done by people, so this is not an excuse to create more people.
I think that in this disagreement, Benatar is probably right. Even though I don’t agree with his views of anti-natalism, his argument is perfectly logical and very hard to find flaws in. Krishnamurty’s arguments just don’t hold up against his and don’t provide any good reasons to question his conclusion. Benatar is making a moral argument, based on our (generally agreed on) obligation to not cause suffering, and Krishnamurty is arguing about the rationality of deciding to have children, so it’s difficult to find the ways that their arguments are applicable to each other. I think that the only way to solve this dispute is to answer this: is it possible to make a rational decision to go against your own, strongly held, moral beliefs?
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