Critical Thinking On Arguments: Three Scenarios
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Following the American Psychological Association’s Guidelines
Scenario One: When it comes to religion, there are countless sides a person could choose to take. Two existing sides are whether the bible matters anymore in today’s modern world or not. Many people believe that the bible still is relevant in all of its contexts. As Ed Strauss states in his book, “Why the Bible Makes Sense: As History, As Ultimate Truth, As a Guide for Life,” the bible has been dictated to the ears of man by god and. Because it has not been “re-dictated” by god, we can assume god has not changed his mind on how he wants man to live their lives . Therefore, we can assume, according to Strauss that the bible is still the ultimate truth in all forms and is still relevant today in all ways. However, many would argue that the bible has lost much of its relevancy over time due to the modernization of customs, civil rights, and the recognition that people of specific race and gender are not property and should be treated fairly. For example, there have been several different pieces of legislation passed recently stating homosexuals have the right to marry and, thus, the right to all the benefits heterosexual married couples are privy to. Leviticus firmly states homosexuality is wrong . Leviticus also states that women can be sold as property, raped on their wedding night if they are not virgins, or that their fathers can be paid a settlement if they are raped . Arguably, many of the rules in the bible are outdated and have been for some time.
Despite the overwhelming evidence that the bible is outdated, there is guidance in it that still rings true today. To play devil’s advocate, no pun intended, Jesus was the founder of the well-known Golden Rule. Treating others as you would like to be treated is a piece of advice that everybody should hear at least once. Many of the commandments are also still solid guidance: Thou shall not murder, thou shall not commit adultery, thou shall not steal, and thou shall honor thy mother and father is applicable. The remaining commandments appear to revolve around individuals only honoring the one god, honoring him, and not taking his name in vain, giving credence to the idea that religion is a device created by man to rule the masses. It is arguable indeed that any moral individual would not need to be told by a man with a stone tablet, or anybody else, to spare the life of another, to leave what is not theirs, and to be kind.
Scenario Two: Many believe a debate equals an argument and an argument equals intolerance. Typically when people argue it is when they are trying to get their point across or when they are trying to convince the other party of their point of view. However, the argument could just be a way of being more convincing, which is different from being intolerant or arguing to convince; it is debating. Consequently, challenging another person’s opinion does not always show a sign of intolerance, but rather an opportunity to broaden a worldview and begin a lively debate. This reason is precisely why debate courses have a place on college campuses.
Scenario Three: A common argument, growing in strength and popularity today, is that there will be fewer deaths if the country bans handguns because it is not guns that kill people, but people that kill people. Of course, this is technically correct. Any eyewitness to a shooting or the use of a gun will tell you that a gun cannot pull its own trigger, short of a misfire, which is rare. People do, in fact, kill people. Guns are only the weapon and, according to, “Dangerous People or Dangerous Weapons: Access to Firearms for Persons with Mental Illness,” if guns were made unavailable, many people who use guns for violence would simply find other weapons to commit murder . The unfortunate reality of so many of these cases is that the individual is either mentally or emotionally unstable in some way prior to their gaining access to a gun. Through circumstance, access to a gun is simply their easiest way to get a weapon and perform the crime they have decided to commit. As stated by Lawrence O. Gostin and Katherine L. Record, many of these individuals who have committed murder or crimes involving guns are so mentally disturbed they have no recollection of committing a crime, or had limited control of their faculties at the time the crime was committed . Those who were more in control of their faculties admitted a gun was the easiest tool available at the time, suggesting again that the gun is not the problem, but the person. Removing guns completely will have a small impact on the amount of violence overall; the country will only see a drop in gun-related violence for obvious reasons.
There could be obvious flaws in the argument. For example, many of the individuals who commit crimes using guns were mentally disturbed; they did not remember committing the crime or had limited control of their faculties at the time the gun was used. In a court of law they were found unable to be tried due to their mental state . However, sociopaths and other mentally disturbed individuals who are more cognitevely aware are able to mimick the signs of more severe mental illness that affords them the opportunity to avoid jail and possibily use guns as a weapon to harm again. Unfortunately, because there are a limited number of ways to determine an individual’s true cognitive awareness, it is unlikely that society will ever know the magnitude of this issue’s impact. However, it does not mean that the argument is less valid. Contrarily, it makes it more imporant. Not only are their individuals who have little control over their faculties using guns to harm people, but there are also those who have full control over their faculties taking advantage over the mentally ill in order to use guns to commit crimes.
Guns are dangerous and should be approached with caution. Individuals using guns should learn about them at length to avoid accidents and protect those around them. Furthermore, we as a society should begin educating everybody about guns. It is clear that guns themselves are not the issue, but people. The value of a human life is precious and also deserves to be a part of gunsafety curriculum. It is worth stating that if more people understood how to respect one another, and the value of another life, as well as how to use a gun, perhaps there would be less cause for alarm now that society is saturated with this weapon.
Gostin, L. O., & Record, K. L. (2011). Dangerous People or Dangerous Weapons: Access to Firearms for Persons with Mental Illness. Medicine and Law, 2108-2109.
Strauss, E. (2013). Why the Bible Makes Sense: As History, As Ultimate Truth, As Guide for Life. Barbour Publishing: Kansas City.
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