An essay that employs logical fallacies

by | Mar 8, 2021 | College (1-2), English, Essay

Essay #1: Bad Argument (1000 words minimum)
The purpose of this essay is to demonstrate your knowledge of the logical fallacies. Therefore, rather than creating a traditional argument essay, in which you make a claim and support it with research, I want you to create an essay that employs logical fallacies to argue for or against a hotly debated issue in our society like immigration, gun control, global warming, torture, election fraud, wearing/not wearing masks, removing confederate monuments, healthcare, the existence of God, euthanasia (“the right to die”), and so forth. However, this essay can work well with less controversial topics too (like whether the Playstation 5 is better than the Xbox Series X). I would recommend you run your topic by me before you begin writing on it.

However, there is one catch: I have found that the majority of students usually default to gay marriage and abortion as topics, so I’m going to ban gay marriage and abortion as topics for this assignment and ask that you choose a different controversial topic to write on.

This essay will contain two parts:

Part 1: The Bad Argument (at least 500 words)
This will be a shorter paper where you will employ several (at least 4) logical fallacies to create your argument. Now, in real life, I understand that arguments (even the bad ones) aren’t always 100% bad, so I’m not asking you to make every line of your paper sound like nonsense. You can mix the good with the bad, but your paper should be predominately a “bad argument” containing several logical fallacies. Furthermore, for the sake of this paper, it doesn’t matter whether you create logical fallacies from the standpoint that you actually agree with or if you write logical fallacies from the opposing viewpoint. In other words, if you are against gun control in real life, don’t feel as if you have to “switch over” to the pro-gun control side for this essay and create a bad argument in favor of gun control. You can just as well create a “bad argument” based on the stance you already hold. In fact, this may even help you to have better arguments for your own position in the long run since you will know how to avoid common fallacies.

Part 2: The Reflection Paper (at least 500 words)
This will be a short paper in which you reflect on the way you used logical fallacies in the “bad argument” portion of this assignment. Please do the following:

First, begin your introduction with a 4-5 sentence accurate and unbiased summary of what people argue on each side of the controversy so that your audience can understand what the debate actually is.
Then, analyze the ways you used logical fallacies in the “bad argument” paper. If, for example, you used a Straw Man fallacy, what made it a Straw Man? How could you have fixed the Straw Man to make a logical argument? You need to reflect on each logical fallacy you used. Please be thorough in your reflection. I’m expecting several sentences of reflection per logical fallacy that you employ. One to two sentences of reflection will not suffice. Please keep both the “Bad Argument” and “Reflection” papers as one single document.

Research and Citations
Unless you happen to already have a pretty thorough knowledge of a topic based on research you’ve done on your own time outside of school, you will most likely have to do at least a little research either online or through the library. If you use any information from outside sources that is not common knowledge, please cite them correctly according to MLA style. Don’t purposely “mess up” your in-text citations and Works Cited page in your attempts to make a “bad argument.” Within your writing, you may misuse and misrepresent statistics that you have researched as part of the logical fallacies you create, but don’t create errors in your quotes, your punctuation, your reference information in your Works Cited page, your grammar and spelling, and so forth.

When I use the Turnitin tool for submitting essays, it doesn’t allow students to see the rubric associated with the assignment ahead of time. For that reason, I will post each section of the rubric below along with the point value assigned to each category:

Introduction(s) (6 points):

The Bad Argument introduction will give a summary of the debate at hand (what each side believes on either side of the debate) even if there is one or more logical fallacies thrown into this introduction. In contrast, the introduction of the Reflection Paper should accurately summarize the debate and what people on each side of the controversy actually claim.

Thesis (8 points):

The Bad Argument may not have a “good” (that is, a logically sound) thesis statement since it’s a fallacious argument, but the main point of the Bad Argument Essay (the main claim or stance that it takes) should still be clearly stated in the last sentence of the introduction. The thesis of the Reflection Paper should sum up the fallacies you used in the Bad Argument portion of the assignment.

Topic Sentences (15 points):

For the Bad Argument, the topic sentences should each state one main reason of support for the “Bad Argument”. For the Reflection Paper, the topic sentences should sum up the main way you used logical fallacies in each body paragraph of the Bad Argument.

Support (30 points):

The Bad Argument should use at least 4 logical fallacies and should elaborate on these fallacies with examples, “evidence,” or other lines of faulty reasoning. In the Reflection Paper, however, the support should consist of a clear analysis and explanation of how you used each logical fallacy, why it was wrong, and what a “good argument” would and should have done differently.

Organization (10 points):

Although the Bad Argument will use faulty reasoning to make its point, it should still have a fairly clear organization with an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Furthermore, it should also still use plenty of transitional words to direct the reader through each fallacy and supporting example. For the Reflection Paper, the writing is logically organized, and the student uses plenty of transitions throughout each paragraph (from intro through conclusion).

Conclusion (6 points):

The conclusion of the Bad Argument will reflect on the supposed “logic” of the Bad Argument itself and will re-emphasize how “correct” the Bad Argument is. Students may or may not use a logical fallacy in the Bad Argument’s conclusion. For the Reflection Paper, the conclusion moves beyond simply repeating the same information in the essay. It effectively wraps up the essay and reflects on the importance of what the student just wrote. In other words, it reflects on why it was so incorrect to use fallacies in the Bad Argument and why it’s so important to be aware of logical fallacies that may occur in our everyday lives.

Grammar/Sentence Structure (25 points):

The writing is free from grammar errors, especially the most serious ones (comma splices, run-ons, fragments). The sentence structure is clear and is free of spelling errors, punctuation errors, and unnecessary extra words and phrases that would make the wording choppy or difficult to understand. The student uses words that clearly express his/her meaning and avoids using the second person (“you”).

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