Critical Reasoning


Assignment One



DUE DATE:  11 April
WORDS: No more than 1500 - preferably fewer.



Examine either one of the passages following (not both) and charitably interpret the argument or arguments that you find there.

This will involve:

  • identifying the reasons and conclusions that appear in it,

  • identifying any (significant) hidden premises or hidden intermediate conclusions,

  • creating an argument diagram or diagrams for the passage,

  • and justifying your claim for the structure.

Deliver your assignment to the assignment box outside the HPRC office on the third floor of the Forgan Smith building. You must attach and complete an assignment cover sheet.



Passage 1



There are many arguments for and against capital punishment, and the methods of carrying it out, and consequently many people, including myself, find it difficult to reach a decision as to whether it is right or wrong.


The first main question is who should be worthy of such punishment sex killers; those who kill to gain; the violent murderers who kill to protect themselves; or all murderers, regardless of whether they are lawfully sane or not? If only a few are chosen for the ultimate punishment there will always be controversy because of the problem of making the choice of who is to die and who is to live.


However, to decide who is to receive Capital Punishment, we must decide why there is such a punishment: is it just a punishment or is it a safeguard to the community? It should be used as a safeguard rather than as revenge, which is wrong in any situation. Many murderers, who have killed to gain something for themselves, would be most likely to commit another murder. Therefore Capital Punishment should be the sentence for anyone who could endanger either those who guard them in prison, or anyone else in the community.


A prisoner, serving the life imprisonment sentence, is, apart from being a great danger to the warders, a heavy burden of expense on the community, and it seems wrong to pay money for these criminals, when innocent people need it so much.


The other aspect of capital punishment to be considered is the method of carrying it out. People who consider the present method of hanging as right believe in capital punishment as a form of revenge. However, if we take this punishment to be for the security of the community, hanging seems crude and unnecessary. With the developments of modern science, a pill or an injection would be much better, and if these methods were used, people would not be so put off by the idea of capital punishment.


I believe in capital punishment only as a means of safeguarding the community, and I would be much more in favour of it if more modern methods were used. To my mind, only those who are a danger to the community should be punished in this way.


Passage 2



As soon as commercialism intrudes, decent principles depart. This is why it is incomprehensible that the government does not take a firm stand against the rising tide of commercialised professional sport. There was a time when only boxing was professional. It attracted the most unsavoury elements in the community and had a generally corrupting effect, but it was permitted to exist probably because society needs a safety valve for the release of its baser passions.


Today, however, professional sport assumes great dimensions, having extended from boxing to practically every field. We seem to have lost sight of the reason for which sport exists: to develop a healthy mind in a healthy body by providing forms of wholesome exercise and relaxation. A truly responsible government would strive with might and main to encourage the mass participation of its people in active sport. I do not ask that it put an end to the great sporting spectacles watched by thousands, but I do say that mass participation is the aspect that it should at all costs stimulate. But all our sporting standards are today fixed by the major professional sporting associations which have a vested financial interest in the big spectacle and therefore a reason for disparaging mass participation. In a word, the money-grubbers are spoiling everything.


The Olympic Games show the high standards that amateurism can attain. The desire for excellent performance can be satisfied by enthusiastic amateurs, without squandering fantastic sums on a handful of professionals. Professionalism, indeed, by making a man a full-time sportsman with lavish facilities at his disposal, must always give an advantage over the part-time amateur of small means. Thus it has a discouraging effect on amateurism, and this in turn does harm to general participation in sport.


Australian cricket will deteriorate if professionalism is allowed to take hold here. Reports from England, where professionalism is dominant, indicate that games are ruined because they are mere duels between opposing professionals. Moreover, gambling is part and parcel of these professional contests, attracting the poorest types to participate not in the sport but in the accompanying game of chance. The English situation shows what is destined to happen here unless we have a government that ends, or at least limits drastically, professionalism in sport.