Is Torture Fair Game? Analysis

  1. What is the nature of the text’s central argumentative point? Is it a claim of fact, causality, evaluation, interpretation or recommendation, or some combination of two or more of these – or something entirely different? (Provide a few sentences here.)

 

The text’s central argumentative point is that the interrogation techniques used by governments on terrorist suspects is akin to the torture methods used by Islamic fundamentalist —the very people the government is trying to differentiate from. The article employs a combination of fact, recommendation and evaluation.

 

  1. How much simple opinion (the expression of the author’s viewpoint without any supporting argumentation) is there is the text? Would you classify the text as being more opinion or more argumentation? (a few sentences)

 

The text is more argumentative than opinionated, as most of the author’s assertions are supported by quotes and factual evidence. Even lines such as, “He has presumably enjoyed a comfortable night’s sleep, many of them at taxpayer expense, most nights for the past 33 years”, avoid speculation through the employment of terms such as, ‘presumably.’

 

  1. Does the author offer an explicitly asserted statement of the text’s principal argumentative point? (briefly discuss)

 

No, the author does not offer an explicitly asserted statement of the text’s principal argumentative point. The author might assume the audience will largely share their viewpoint or worldview, which sleep deprivation should be banned because it is regarded as a torture.

 

  1. Are there any contentious terms in the text and, if so, does the author offer any stipulative definitions of these? To what extent are any such definitions supported with their own justification? (a few sentences)

 

‘Sleep deprivation’ may be regarded as a contentious term, as individuals such as the Attorney- General Philip Ruddock and PM John Howard, “don’t regard sleep deprivation as torture”, which contrasts the United Nations Committee Against Torture’s definition of torture. As such, the author offers a range of side-effects of sleep deprivation: “hinders the ability of red blood cells to carry oxygen to the brain causing fatigue, lapses in memory, lethargy, muscular pain and, in severe cases, loss of consciousness.” While not a ‘definition’, the list does support the author’s justification that sleep deprivation is a form of torture.

 

  1. What types of justificatory support (secondary claims) does the author employ and does he seem to favour one type of these? (Express these justificatory claims as a single sentence and set out below in the order win which they occur in the text.) Also see if you can classify each of the justifications as involving one or more of the following justification types.

 

Article’s primary claim here: Sleep deprivation causes physical and psychological harm.

 

 

Justification 1: Appeal to ethical, legal or other social norms

 

 

Justification 2: Appeal to emotion

 

Justification 3: Appeal to facts

 

 

Primary claim: Sleep deprivation is an out-dated torture method used on Australian Diggers.

 

Justification 1: Appeal to precedent, customary practice

 

Justification 2: Appeal to comparison, analogy

 

 

Primary Claim: Politicians who claim sleep deprivation is not torture have not endured it themselves and therefore, don’t fully understand it’s mental and physical effects.

 

Justification 1: Appeal to emotion.

 

 

Primary Claim: Using sleep deprivation to interrogate suspected terrorists lowers us to the level of terrorists.

 

Justification 1: Appeal to comparison, analogy

 

  1. Take the list you have just presented as to the text’s justifications, and then state the warrant by which each justification supports or lead to the primary claim of the article. Indicate if any of these are explicitly stated. Also indicate if any of the warrants are supplied with their own argumentative support – i.e. with additional “backing” .

 

Justification 1: Sleep deprivation causes physical and psychological harm.

Warrant for Justification 1: Physical and psychological harm is undesirable.

à Not explicitly stated, no additional backing.

 

Justification 2: Sleep deprivation is an out-dated torture method used on Australian Diggers.

Warrant for Justification 2: Out-dated practices are often outmoded due to refined ethics and knowledge.

à Not explicitly stated, no additional backing.

 

Justification 3: Politicians who claim sleep deprivation is not torture have not endured it themselves and therefore, don’t fully understand it’s mental and physical effects.

Warrant for Justification 3: Personal, first-hand experience is essential when making decisions that affect other people.

à Not explicitly stated, no additional backing.

 

Justifications 4: Using sleep deprivation to interrogate suspected terrorists lowers us to the level of terrorists.

Warrant for Justification 3: Terrorists are immoral.

à Not explicitly stated, no additional backing.

 

 

  1. Does the text contain any informal fallacies? If so, list these and present your justification for negatively characterising them in this way.

 

Ad Hominem: “He has presumably enjoyed a comfortable night’s sleep, many of them at taxpayer expense, most nights for the past 33 years.”

Here, the author attacks Philip Ruddock’s lifestyle and career choice, rather than the argument he puts forth.

 

One thought on “Is Torture Fair Game? Analysis”

  1. if you have a z-number as your publicly visible handle, please change it to your name, or add your name in the tags – otherwise, we will not know who you are…

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