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Pro Con Analysis (Immigrants to Learn English)


CalamityJane  
Jul 15, 2009   #1
My final paper this term is a pro/con analysis. Essentially I am to talk about an issue without taking a side, kind of like a reporter. Unfortunately, the other threads I have read have talked about how to create a persuasive pro/con essay. I am having trouble being sure that I understand how to argue the sides.

I have chosen the subject of "Requiring Immigrants to Learn English." This paper will be clear about this being in the U.S. and I have a list of pros and cons, however I wonder if these will make a big enough contrast between sides. Here is the list.

Pros:
~It is difficult to communicate with those who don't speak English.
~Inability to communicate can create dangerous situations (i.e. driving, police action)
~Other countries require immigrants to learn their national language, so should we.
~People who don't speak English must be illegal.
~By losing control of the language we will lose political control.

Cons:
~Many immigrants are refugees and are struggling to find their identity.
~First Generation immigrants have the most difficulty assimilating.
~Immigrants who have to choose between work and school will choose work.
~Social and living environments do not foster the need to learn English.

Note: I am not supposed to give the idea to the reader that I have an opinion either direction.

I am also struggling with my thesis statement, but this is what I have so far. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thesis: Forcing immigrants to learn English in America is a hot subject because Americans cannot agree on whether or not this is a reasonable requirement.
EF_Simone [Moderator]  
Jul 15, 2009   #2
~People who don't speak English must be illegal.

Huh???

~Other countries require immigrants to learn their national language, so should we.

You'll need a citation here, remembering that there's a difference between having a national language and forcing people to learn it. Also, you'll need to show not just that this policy exists but also, since it is quite rare, explain why we should follow the lead of these few countries rather than the preponderance of nations.

~By losing control of the language we will lose political control.

Who's "we"?

Your "cons" seem weak and all focus on the difficulty of learning English for some immigrants rather than the justice or utility of the policy itself. So, here are a few more:

~ Languages that are native to this region include Navaho, Hopi, Illini, Creek, Cree and scores of others... but not English
~ Spanish and Native language speaking immigrants from Mexico include descendants of Native Americans who were here first, and thus arguably have more right to be in the region than the English-speaking descendants of immigrants from Europe

~ The trend, globally, is not toward single-language countries but, rather, recognition of several languages as official languages of a country; countries such as Brazil find that this fosters rather than inhibits democracy and economic growth

~ The policy is unfeasible -- What would be the mechanism by which, for example, a refugee fleeing genocide who, for whatever reason, was unable to become fluent in English would be punished for her failure? Jail? Deportation?
EF_Sean [Moderator]  
Jul 15, 2009   #3
I don't know that the list of cons is much stronger here (though much better written). All but one seem like non sequiturs. Who was here first doesn't much seem to influence whether or not A) English is now the predominant language of the nation, and B) having everyone able to speak the same language within the nation would be beneficial (bearing in mind that people would still presumably be free to speak other languages whenever they wanted). The policy would be fairly easy to enforce -- simply make proficiency in English a requirement for immigration visa. Any new immigrants who came here who were not proficient in English would therefore presumably not be here legally, and so yes, they could be deported.

The cons listed seem to assume that the policy would include banning the use of other languages, and the forcing of people already here who do not speak English to master the language, neither of which are necessarily parts of the proposal. A stronger set of cons might focus on the unintended effects such laws might have. Immigrants who learned English might have a hard time getting their families to come and join them, for instance, as their family members might not yet have been able to master English. Some people we would presumably value as immigrants, because of the skills they possess, might find it easier to learn English after arriving, which they would presumably have to do to find a decent job anyway, raising the most obvious con to the law, that it seems unnecessary. I doubt many people seriously want to live in a country where they can't understand 90% of what's going on around them. A better law might be one that provided easier access to ESL training, to help immigrants who wish to pick up English to do so.
OP CalamityJane  
Jul 15, 2009   #4
The observations that both of you have provided are helpful, thank you.

I was afraid that my examples were weak and I am starting to see that I might need to subscribe to a literary magazine so that I can practice better critical reading skills. Hopefully this would lead to better critical writing skills.

Anything either of you could suggest that would help me improve in these areas?

About the essay...

Apart from the pro's cited by Simone, are my pro's okay? How about,

~ Immigrants who do not learn English create barriers in being able to communicate.
~ Limited ability to communicate of non-English speakers becomes a hazard for daily survival, such as driving and police action.
~ The trend toward a dual-language society creates a potential for dispute over political control.

The ability to communicate seems to be my value for the pro's, but I am not so sure that it would be the value for the con's. It seems realistic to include illegal immigrants in my con's arguments because they live here (and I'm not supposed to show a side). Below I have reworked my con's. What do you think now?

New con's
~ There is no viable way to enforce attendance of classes and practical application of English.
~ Immigrants arriving in the United States regularly have a need to obtain income and choose to work rather than attend English classes.

If I have an unbalanced number of pro's and con's will that look like I prefer one argument to the other? I think it might show that I am more familiar with the other side, which may be equally damaging to my grade.

Thank you all very much for your help. I look forward to learning how to be a more accomplished writer.
EF_Simone [Moderator]  
Jul 15, 2009   #5
Well, there are two ways you can approach this. To write the most intelligent paper on the topic, you need to address the subject more thoughtfully than it is usually addressed in the media, asking first and most specifically: What would be the purpose of such a policy? Then you can argue (a) for and against the purpose, as well as (b) for and against this particular policy as a means of achieving that purpose.

Or, you could take the somewhat easier journalistic approach and simply report the reasons that people support or oppose the policy, whether or not these are logical or make policy sense.

In between, you could both report and assess the common reasons people give for proposing or opposing this policy.
EF_Sean [Moderator]  
Jul 16, 2009   #6
Your pros read better than your cons mainly because they are united around a single purpose for the policy, namely social cohesion. Your cons are okay, but seem weaker because they aren't united around a central vision for opposing the policy. Mainly, they deal with the practicalities of the policy, rather than tackling the notion of whether or not the policy is a good idea in principle.

So, to counter the pros you have at the moment effectively, someone who disagreed with the policy would have to unravel a very complicated set of premises, and try to show either that language is not an important element in creating social cohesion, or that social cohesion is undesirable, or that government attempts to foster social cohesion through language selection violated some other principles that would make it a bad idea. None of these are easy tasks.

In contrast, to counter your cons, all someone who agreed with the policy would have to do is show that the policy could be made to work well enough to accomplish its stated purpose. For example:

"There is no viable way to enforce attendance of classes and practical application of English." But if immigrants couldn't get in legally without first passing an English proficiency test, this would not be necessary anyway.

"Immigrants arriving in the United States regularly have a need to obtain income and choose to work rather than attend English classes." But good work is much easier to find in the U.S. if you speak English, which is another good reason for mandating that immigrants master the language.

Your cons can be greatly weakened in a single sentence apiece, because, as I said, they are dealing only with questions of the practicality of enforcement, not with the philosophical underpinnings of the policy. If you want to make your cons as strong as your pros, you will have to come up with some that challenge the validity of such a policy, even if it could be implemented in such a way that it achieved its stated goals.
OP CalamityJane  
Jul 16, 2009   #7
So if I take the standpoint that the resistance to learn English is fueled by immigrant sentiments that Americans in general are anti-immigrant, is that attending more to the "philosophical underpinnings?"

For example, if I were to write about the Civl War, the North may argue that the war is about slave rights, while the South defends the war as a fight for state government rights. Each faction is convinced of the validity of its own cause, but neither side is involved for the same reason.
OP CalamityJane  
Jul 16, 2009   #8
I'm okay with changing the topic of my essay to find appropriate thesis statements and supporting paragraphs.

So, granted I got my information from wikipedia when I looked up "social cohesion" so this is a shot in the dark.

If the issue of immigrants learning English or not is one of social cohesion, the pro argument is that to live in the U.S. one needs to abide by "social order" and learn English. While the con argument says that "material conditions" are the purpose for moving to the U.S. and social order is not a priority. Those material conditions can be substantiated by the fact the the U.S. recruits people from other countries for certain skills (i.e. computer, scientific, and medical capabilities).
EF_Sean [Moderator]  
Jul 16, 2009   #9
For example, if I were to write about the Civl War, the North may argue that the war is about slave rights, while the South defends the war as a fight for state government rights. Each faction is convinced of the validity of its own cause, but neither side is involved for the same reason.

Exactly. One side argues that it is fighting for freedom and equality (of the slaves). The other side argues that it is fighting for the right of self-determination (of the South). You have two sets of opposed principles, which gives each side a powerful case.

If the issue of immigrants learning English or not is one of social cohesion, the pro argument is that to live in the U.S. one needs to abide by "social order" and learn English.

Well, your pros were already pretty good, and centered around this theme, but yes. The purpose of making English a national language would be to unite the American people under one common tongue. You could then argue that this would help prevent the creation of ethic ghettos, and benefit the immigrants themselves, who would have a much easier time finding work and fitting in in their new home.

To create a strong con argument, you would have to argue that American unity came from more than just language, and that other factors were equally if not more important. Then, ideally, you would show how having a national language would weaken those factors. So, you might argue that what unites Americans is the dream of living in a land of liberty, where everyone has the right to pursue their own happiness, regardless of how they define it. So, people should be free to learn (or not learn) languages as they see fit. Many people might think that people living here would be happier if they learned English, but that's for each individual to decide, not the gov't.

That would give you a more balanced set of pros and cons, though I suspect that the pros are always going to be slightly stronger. That's okay, though -- it may be that the pro side just has more going for it. After all, the policy essentially boils down to "if you want to join our club, you have to be able to communicate with the rest of us." This is simple, straightforward, has common sense appeal, and tends to resonate with most people psychologically.
OP CalamityJane  
Jul 16, 2009   #10
Thank you so much! I figure if I repeat myself enough I will finally get it. I'll post my paper in a day or two. Thank you again.
OP CalamityJane  
Jul 20, 2009   #11
So I have decided to go a different direction. My final draft is due on Wednesday morning, 9 a.m. pacific time so I do not have much time to revise. I would really enjoy feedback though. Prior to reading my essay, this is the essential outline provided by my instructor. My commentary is in (parenthesis).

Model Outline:
Intro with Thesis
Describe the Problem
Define Key Terms (not necessary in this essay)
Narrative/Anecdote
Why do we have this problem?
Whom does it affect?
Why is this problem so important?
What is at stake with this issue?
What are they key values on the two sides? Just give me a couple.
Can this disagreement be solved? If so, how? If not, why not?
What are the implications of this disagreement for those involved and for others?
What can we learn about resolving conflict from this issue?
Conclude

I did cut out a few items from this list. Once again, I am not permitted to have an opinion in this essay. Please let me know if I do a good job of staying neutral. Thank you in advance for your help.
EF_Sean [Moderator]  
Jul 21, 2009   #12
Your essay rambles. In part, this is because of the ridiculous outline you have to follow, but you could still improve, even with the lousy framework you are stuck with.

I'd suggest you start by defining your key terms. What do you mean by "inhumane," for instance? At the moment, it is unclear why the death penalty should be more inhumane than locking someone in a cage for twenty years.

You say that, for those against the death penalty, the issue is mostly a moral one. Okay, what moral principle do they cite in their objections?

You say that the death penalty is objected to because it is irreversible. Why should this be an objection?

You say that those in favor of the death penalty can refute these points. How?

You cite the notion of "an eye for an eye" as the justification for the death penalty. But earlier, you mentioned rape as a crime for which the death penalty should be considered. Killing a rapist isn't an eye for eye. This leads to the notion that perhaps, back at the beginning of your essay, you should have defined the death penalty, or at least the version of it you planned to argue against. Singapore, for instance, has a very different system of capital punishment than does the U.S.

You mention the recidivism rates, but fail to make explicit how these can be used to support a stance on the death penalty (which is a shame, because it is one of the strongest arguments in favor of it).

Then you say that these arguments can be rebutted by opponents. Again, how?

By the way, your conclusion, that the two camps are ideologically opposed, implies that at some point the two sides stop refuting each other and essentially have to disagree as a matter of principle. If so, you should explain what the principles are, and why they cannot be reconciled.
EF_Simone [Moderator]  
Jul 21, 2009   #13
"This raises the questions at what point does a person lose these rights and who decides when to end a person's life?"

Here is my suggestion: Follow your teacher's outline. Exactly. Start with "describe the problem" and do each step in turn, drawing on what you have written here to do so. Allot one paragraph to each section. Then write your introduction. Do not go astray. Do not worry about trying to say everything that could be said about this question. Be concise and direct. If your instructor gave you that outline, then that is what s/he wants to see.
OP CalamityJane  
Jul 21, 2009   #14
Simone. It turns out the teacher doesn't follow the outline either because she says I don't spend enough time on the issues (the outline only addresses the issues in two places of the 12). I have asked why we have a model outline if we are not expected to follow it, but I doubt I'll get an answer before tomorrow. I am attempting to remove the rambling, but I think I ramble because I can't have an opinion and so I'm afraid to be too specific about either side.

Sean: If I had been allowed to have an opinion I would have used the story about that guy (Case) who was on death row for murder, but released last month and then arrested last weekend for another murder. I have updated my essay and added more statistics. I am afraid that too many will make it look like a research paper or a slanted opinion.

Here is what my instructor says.

"Controversies surrounding application of the death penalty in the United States continue to surge because of differing ideologies about whether humans can choose to end a life. You're staying vague. What is at stake? What is the issue? I'm not sure "choice" is the right word to use. (And I wouldn't use Surge.) Isn't the issue that the death penalty is inherently biased in the sense that we simply cannot find an utterly fair and impartial means of applying it? States like OR almost never use it; in Texas the death penalty is the state sport.

"You really don't move to a section assessing the conflict. You have ONE P where you even address this at all. That's the heart of this essay.

"Don't end on rhetorical questions. That seems to me a cop-out given this topic. If you ask a question, answer it. You spend much more time on set-up than on the assessment of the issue. I would develop the second half of the essay much more."

One thing that confuses me is do I have to have a good solution? There are some issues that are simply too complex to resolve. I thought that by showing the reader that the issue causes too much emotional reaction, I would exempt myself from having to provide a solution.

I also get the feeling that she doesn't like the Texas way of doing things. Well that is having an opinion.

I have done my best to follow everyone's recommendations, but I am having trouble losing the questions in the conclusion. Sorry this is so long. Thank you again so much.

The Death Penalty Controversy in America
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, "Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security of person." The U.S. Declaration of Independence reads that "all Men" have a right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Modern understanding of the term "all Men" leads a person to conclude that this declaration is for everyone. This begs the following questions, at what point does a person lose these rights and who decides when to end a person's life? Controversies surrounding application of the death penalty in the United States result from differing ideologies about whether humans have the right to end a life.

It was a rainy Monday morning in Portland, Oregon in February of 1994. Just two days after I had returned from a week long, student trip to Washington D.C., to study government. I struggled to get out of bed, still jet-lagged, and headed to another exciting day of high school. My early Civics class had been cancelled after our trip, to Washington so it would be much later that day before I realized what was taking place. As I rode the city bus and walked down the long sidewalk, past the football field, and up to the school an important piece of controversial history was being made. U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Antonin Scalia was making a written statement about a prominent death penalty case called "Callins v. Collins." Justice Scalia was upholding the Death Penalty saying that all the required provisions had been met in the case to honor the Fifth and Eighth Amendments. Justice Scalia observed that death by lethal injection of Callins was far preferable than the heinous ways that certain victims had died at the hand of other death row inmates. This decision came just one day before the scheduled execution and the very next day, somewhere in Texas, Callins was put to death.

In the U.S. there are two major schools of thought with regard to the death penalty. One side declares that removing the individual right to life is inhumane because it lacks compassion for that individual. The other believes that the death penalty is not a question of humanity, rather once one individual has infringed upon another's rights, to "life, liberty, and security" then the offender's rights end. The pro side further believes that if a person demonstrates compassion it is because one both condones criminal acts and disregards the victims, or one is weak in applying the law. Both arguments are equally impassive because they are based on ideology and statics are skewed rather than taking a neutral stance.

As a result of firmly held opinions the American people must rely heavily on the court system to sort out differences, which can take years. Using evidence and precedent courts determine whether or not an individual is guilty and how likely they are to re-commit a crime. Then based on that determination the court decides whether the person would best serve society by a lengthy prison sentence or by being put to death. After the sentence is given the condemned persons can spend years appealing for a stay of execution, which may or may not be granted. The individuals most affected by this process are the condemned and their victims. In many instances the victim is no longer alive, but there are cases in which the victim watches for the sentence to be carried out, while the condemned individual awaits reprieve.

For those who are opposed to employment of the death penalty, the moral question of human intervention to life is really about whether the death penalty is "cruel and unusual." Opponents argue ardently that it is inhumane to use methods such as electrocution, hanging, gas chamber, or the firing squad; although lethal injection is the preferred method in all states. Botched executions are also a real point to consider when examining the "cruel and unusual" argument. One other talking point used by the anti-death penalty side is that it is irreversible and that individuals who are not actually guilty could be put to death by mistake. This fear can be substantiated by the number of innocent people who have been released from death row. In the state of Texas, for example, which has the highest rate of carrying out a death sentence in the U.S., the Death Penalty Information website shows that since 1974, nine innocent individuals have been freed.

On the opposite spectrum the philosophy that justice is served through execution is the essential argument to the pro death penalty movement. Proponents say that the recidivism rate, or tendency to reoffend, for those who have committed felonies is very high. This can be supported by an on-line document from the State of Washington Sentencing Guidelines Commission from 2004, in which it says that during that year approximately 81% of convicted males and 61.5% of convicted females "had a history of one or more prior offenses." Another example of recidivism is from the Criminal Offender Statics on the Bureau of Justice Statistics website, which says that "within 3 years of release, 2.5% of released rapists were rearrested for another rape, and 1.2% of those who had served time for homicide were arrested for a new homicide." A second argument often used is that sentencing of criminals, including those given the death penalty, needs to be carried out so that victims and their families can feel at peace about crimes perpetrated on them.

There do not seem to be any good options for resolving this conflict. The status quo has been left to a debate about whether to execute a condemned individual or require that person to serve a lifetime sentence. To add to the confusion are the issues of: overcrowded jails and precedent set by court determinations. Each of these issues stokes the fire under the side of the debate that is in favor of executing prisoners. The one side further motivates the other to more ardently defend the anti-death sentence ideology.

The resulting conclusion that one can reach to the conflict brought by the death penalty is that there is no real resolution. Individuals who are deeply tied to their beliefs strongly favor one ideology over the other. When it comes to the question of sentencing criminals to be put to death these questions remain unanswered. Is it in the interest of humanity to decide to end one life to avenge another? Or for the sake of humanity does the condemned individual deserve to live, but live locked away?

Works Cited

Unknown. Recidivism of Adult Felons 2004. Sentencing Guidelines Commission, State of Washington.

Unknown. State by State Database. Death Penalty Information Center.

Unknown. Criminal Offender Statistics. U.S. Department of Justice: Office of Programs, Bureau of Statistics.
EF_Simone [Moderator]  
Jul 21, 2009   #15
The authors of your works cited are not "unknown." They are, respectively, the State of Washington Sentencing Guidelines Commission, the Death Penalty Information Center, and the U.S. Department of Justice.

Also, I think maybe you misunderstand the outline. If you were to follow it, you would be covering "the issues" in virtually every paragraph.

during that year approximately 81% of convicted males and 61.5% of convicted females "had a history of one or more prior offenses."

But, this doesn't tell you what proportion re-offend, which is really the question with recidivism.

Another example of recidivism is from the Criminal Offender Statics on the Bureau of Justice Statistics website, which says that "within 3 years of release, 2.5% of released rapists were rearrested for another rape, and 1.2% of those who had served time for homicide were arrested for a new homicide."

So, that's 2 and 1/2 out of every hundred for rape and just over one out of every hundred for homicide. Do you find those to be compelling numbers?

The resulting conclusion that one can reach to the conflict brought by the death penalty is that there is no real resolution. Individuals who are deeply tied to their beliefs strongly favor one ideology over the other. When it comes to the question of sentencing criminals to be put to death these questions remain unanswered. Is it in the interest of humanity to decide to end one life to avenge another? Or for the sake of humanity does the condemned individual deserve to live, but live locked away?

I see you specifically ignored your teacher's instruction not to end with rhetorical questions. She won't like that. Writing teachings like for whatever specific pieces of advice they give to be followed.

Not to mention that these particular rhetorical questions don't go to the heart of the dispute at all. While proponents of the death penalty believe it to be for the good of humanity, opponents do not see it that way at all. Indeed, most opponents would argue that the death penalty hurts rather than helps the society.

One possible resolution would be, as already has begun to happen, for governors to conclude on the basis of the facts (1. disproportionate death penalties leveled against African Americans, and 2. multiple proven instances of people sentenced to death -- and even killed -- despite innocence) that the death penalty, whether right or wrong in theory, cannot be impartially nor accurately applied at present and to call a moratorium on executions. This would bring the United States into line with the other democracies. This would anger proponents but, since no innocent people are being killed by the state any more, not injure anybody. Proponents would be free to work for new criminal justice methods that would ensure unbiased and accurate application of the punishment they prefer.
OP CalamityJane  
Jul 21, 2009   #16
Hi Simone, sorry, I guess what I said about the conclusion above was buried. I have now had time to fix it. Here you go. The last two paragraphs are these. I borrowed the cage statement from Sean.

Given the gulf of opinions that span one from one philosophy to the other there do not seem to be any good options for resolving this conflict. The status quo has been left to a debate about whether to execute a condemned individual or require that person to serve a lifetime sentence. To add to the confusion are the issues of: overcrowded jails and precedent set by court determinations. Each of these issues stokes the fire under the side of the debate that is in favor of executing prisoners. The one side further motivates the other to more ardently defend the anti-death sentence ideology.

The resulting conclusion that one can reach to the conflict brought by the death penalty is that there is no real resolution. Individuals who are deeply tied to their beliefs strongly favor one ideology over the other. When it comes to the question of sentencing criminals to be put to death there is no clear answer. It is in the interest of justice to keep criminals from reoffending. Until a solution becomes apparent, justice will continue to be served through execution or spending the rest of life in a cage.

Thanks for the help on the Works Cited. I fixed them.

By the way, I like your suggestions in the last paragraph, but if I followed them wouldn't I be taking a side? Obviously stopping executions is what the cons want, how would that appease the pros?

Lastly... how do I get used to the tone of people reviewing my work? Will I ever get calloused enough to accept that someone isn't as irritated as they sound? I mean, I know the tone of your post must not be angry, but it sounds like it. When will I get over that?
EF_Simone [Moderator]  
Jul 22, 2009   #17
My tone wasn't as kind as it could have been. I apologize for that.

By the way, I like your suggestions in the last paragraph, but if I followed them wouldn't I be taking a side? Obviously stopping executions is what the cons want, how would that appease the pros?

Obviously, unless agreement can be reached, somebody will be displeased. What I was trying to do was set aside the perhaps intractable moral dispute to look at the facts. Nobody is saying innocent people should be sentenced to death. But they are. In order to prevent the evil of putting innocent people to death, we must call a moratorium on executions until such time, if ever, as a solution to the known problems associated with inaccurate prosecutions and convictions (chiefly, racial bias and the untrustworthy nature of eyewitness identification) can be found. At that time, we can pick up the question of whether capital punishment is ever justified. For now, the question is moot because it cannot be applied accurately anyway.
OP CalamityJane  
Jul 22, 2009   #18
Thanks again Simone, I really appreciate your help. You and Sean have given me a lot of great info and I will continue to use this site. Actually since my class was an online class I gave this address to a lot of students so maybe they'll be coming here too.

I may have ruined my essay, but I added a paragraph listing a few interesting details about the death penalty that appeal to one side or the other, such as the Supreme Court deciding that the constitution protects people from the death penalty if they were convicted of a one on one crime where their victim wasn't killed. Anyway, I know your advice has helped me to look at my writing a bit differently. Gee it is a learning process.

I will be writing for the rest of my life so I will be posting again.

Thanks :)
EF_Sean [Moderator]  
Jul 26, 2009   #19
By the way, I like your suggestions in the last paragraph, but if I followed them wouldn't I be taking a side? Obviously stopping executions is what the cons want, how would that appease the pros?

Yes, Simone's suggestion is in fact one that comes down squarely on the con side.

What I was trying to do was set aside the perhaps intractable moral dispute to look at the facts. Nobody is saying innocent people should be sentenced to death. But they are. In order to prevent the evil of putting innocent people to death, we must call a moratorium on executions until such time, if ever, as a solution to the known problems associated with inaccurate prosecutions and convictions (chiefly, racial bias and the untrustworthy nature of eyewitness identification) can be found. At that time, we can pick up the question of whether capital punishment is ever justified. For now, the question is moot because it cannot be applied accurately anyway.

It would be unreasonable to avoid ever punishing anybody in the criminal justice system unless it had a 100% accuracy rate in determining guilt or innocence. Simone is quite right in saying that no one is calling for innocent people to be sentenced to death. However, she then substitutes that for the thing being argued against, i.e. the putting to death of people who are guilty of horrible crimes. I guess this makes it a form of straw man argument? The correct response here is that we don't want innocent people to ever be punished for crimes they did not commit. However, this has no effect whatsoever on how we believe we should punish those who have been found guilty of a crime, and who are therefore presumed guilty (the presumption of innocence only lasts until a guilty verdict has been rendered. Thereafter, the person is, legally speaking, guilty). One could argue that the fact that no justice system can ever guarantee that everyone convicted is truly guilty is a good reason for avoiding the death penalty, as it is irreversible, but that would be a moral argument, not a factual one, and so this isn't a compromise position that circumnavigates the moral debate. It is in fact a capitulation to the anti-death penalty side, and as such would violate the "not taking a side" rule you are supposed to abide by.


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