Clifton. I wish we could stop irresponsible people from having children. It would prevent an enormous amount of suffering, but control over one's own body is a basic human right, and that includes reproduction, so the state will never have the right to control who has children.
Annette. You've got all wrong. Just as the state has the right to decide who may or may not drive a car, it has the right to decide who may or may not have a baby.
Clifton. 1. Control over one's own body is a basic human right, and that includes reproduction.
2. Control over one's own body includes reproduction.
C. The state does not have the right to control who has children.
Annette. 1. The state has the right to decide who may or may not drive a car.
(2. Driving a car is like having children.)
C. The state does have the right to control who has children.
Clifton is basically saying that the state should leave people alone when it comes to reproduction, while Annette is saying that the state has the right to interfere. Since state interference in people's lives is never allowable without a clear justification, Annette has the burden of proof.
Both are making direct arguments.
Clifton: Argument Annette: Analogy Argument.
Based on control of one's own body. Conclusion Thingy: state control over who has and who doesn't have children.
Premise Thingy: state control over who drives and who doesn't.
Property: state has the right to do it.
Clifton's argument is based on the human right to control what is done with one's body. Reproduction is done with one's body, so it seems to follow that there is a human right to control one's own reproduction, which means that the state doesn't have a right to interfere with one's reproduction. Annette's argument is based on a purported similarity between being allowed to drive a car and being allowed to reproduce. The crucial similarity here is that some people can be identified as very likely to be bad parents just as some people can be identified as very likely to be bad drivers. The state has a duty to keep bad drivers off the road because bad drivers are a serious, and often deadly threat to other innocent people. If a risk was the only consideration, it would follow that the state has a duty to keep bad parents from reproducing because bad parents are a serious, and often deadly threat to other innocent people, to wit, their children. Indeed, such considerations would imply that the state has more duty to regulate parenting, because most people threatened by bad drivers are drivers themselves, and have some ability to avoid the effect of the bad driving. Children have no ability to avoid the effects of bad parenting.
[Now, if you said that Annette's argument was stronger because of the compelling state interest in preventing harm to children, I would mark that right. If you said that Clifton's argument was stronger because control of one's body is a fundamental right that overrides the state's duty to prevent harm to children, I would mark that right. And if you said that you couldn't tell which argument was stronger because you couldn't decide whether or not individual rights were more important than state duties, I would mark that right also. In fact, any answer that was based on the logical structure of both arguments would be right The important thing here is identifying and clearly stating the logical elements of the issue. Since neither side commits a clear fallacy, and (in my view) it is actually difficult to decide who is right, it is actually possible to do everything you really need to do for this exercise without coming to any particular conclusion. Remember the class is more about understanding and clearly explicating the logical structures of issues than it is about coming to conclusions. When the arguments genuinely add up to logical uncertainty, the most rational thing you can do is say that you are uncertain, and explain why.]
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