MDIA2002- Tute Prep 4: Danielle, Ben, Siobhan

  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 primary claim of the article is both evaluative and recommendatory. The author expresses his opinion, often without factual evidence to support his viewpoint. Further, the overall viewpoint is that sleep deprivation is a form of torture, with the argument supporting the recommendation that sleep deprivation should not be used as a form of torture.

It argues that sleep deprivation is a form of torture and we (especially politicians with no experience with the matter) should not try and justify using it for interrogation.

  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)

It is a combination of opinion and argumentation; however, we would argue that it leans towards argumentation. Each point raised in the article is almost always supported by a rationale i.e. facts and anecdotal evidence are used as a justification

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

I would say that the principal argumentative point is inferred rather than explicitly stated. The author alludes to his argument that sleep deprivation is a form of torture utilizing evidence and quotes. The most direct he gets is in the final line of the article which articulates the principal argument the most: “Interrogation is an important tool in the fight, but politicians shouldn’t try to justify torture and therefore lower us to the level of our enemies.”


  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)

The term ‘torture’ is used throughout the article and can be considered a contentious term. The author argues for a definition of torture that is inclusive of the concept of ‘sleep deprivation’. Further, the author supports his stipulative definition of the contentious claim by using evidence from the United Nations to appeal to authority.

5. and 6 Justification and Warrants

Justification 1: Ruddock is not an expert in torture and therefore his recommendation should not be taken seriously (type: appeal to authority( he has none), appeal to customary practices/precedent)

Warrant for Justification 1: Only people who are experts/ have significant experience in a field can give educated recommendations.

Justification 2: In 1997, the United Nations Committee Against Torture specifically ruled that the extended deprivation of sleep did indeed constitute torture.  (type: appeal to authority)

Warrant for Justification 2: We should accept the laws that the United Nations, as a governing body, set.

Justification 3: 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. ( type: appeal to facts, appeal to ethics)

Warrant for Justification 3: The above symptoms are bad.

Justification 4: it is against the law to use sleep deprivation techniques in Australia. (type: appeal to authority, appeal to precedent)

Warrant for Justification 4: the law is to be obeyed

Justification 5: the Japanese probably justified these sleep deprivation techniques at the time so if we did this we would be like the Japanese during WWII (appeal to emotion, appeal to negative consequences, appeal to comparison)

Warrant for Justification 5: the Japanese were the enemy in WWII, it was largely agreed that their actions were wrong.


  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 Argument: “Exactly what Attorney- General Philip Ruddock was doing even commenting is unclear, let alone supporting the practice as a means of getting information out of terrorist suspects.” Specifically targets Attorney General Phillip Ruddock.

    Distraction / Evaluative Presumption: “Ruddock has been a Liberal member of Parliament since 1973. Before that he was a Sydney solicitor. He has presumably enjoyed a comfortable night’s sleep, many of them at taxpayer expense, most nights for the past 33 years.” Providing a distraction from the central argumentation – an extension upon the Ad Hominem.

    False Analogy: “No doubt, the Japanese army’s political masters would have justified it as valid in the context of world war.” Allowing sleep deprivation makes us the same as the Japanese and how they treated POW in WWII.