Analyze an Issue and Write an Argument
This Critical Thinking assignment is designed to provide you with experience in analyzing an issue and writing an argument. Write a 1-1 ½ page essay for each of the following two statements:
1. The exchange of dirty hypodermic needles for clean ones, or the sale of clean ones, is legal in many states. In such states, the transmission of HIV and hepatitis from dirty needles is down dramatically. But bills (in the California legislature) to legalize clean-needle exchanges have been stymied by the last two governors, who earnestly but incorrectly believed that the availability of clean needles would increase drug abuse. Our state, like every other state that has not yet done it, should immediately approve legislation to make clean needles available.
–Adapted from an editorial by Marsha N. Cohen, professor of law at Hastings College of Law
2. On February 11, 2003, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the state of Arkansas could force death row prisoner Charles Laverne Singleton to take antipsychotic drugs to make him sane enough to execute. Singleton was to be executed for felony capital murder but became insane in prison. “Medicine is supposed to heal people, not prepare them for execution. A law that asks doctors to make people well so that the government can kill them is an absurd law,” said David Kaczynski, the executive director of New Yorkers Against the Death Penalty.
–Adapted from an editorial by Thomas Sowell, senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.
Each essay must include and demonstrate your ability to:
– identify the issue (or issues) and key points in the argument for each statement
– state your position on the issue (a hypothetical position if you do not have one)
– provide at least one good reason in support of your position
– provide at least one good reason why the opposing position is wrong
It is acceptable to use each question to divide the essay into sections. One major pitfall is that we assume that a belief or an opinion may result from critical thinking. In fact, critical thinking results in an objective analysis of a topic or claim and is based on fact or truth.