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Why Shouldn't Children Play with Power Tools?

In each of the following arguments, a different reason is given in answer to a question at issue: "Why shouldn't we let little Jimmy play with power tools?" Look at each example and describe what assumptions the writer makes about the audience and their beliefs. For what audiences might this line of reasoning work? Why might an audience not be convinced by the line of reasoning?

You should not let little Jimmy play with power tools because . . .

1. It is unethical for a responsible adult to allow children to play with dangerous electrical appliances without adult supervision.

2. Children are not as capable of mature judgment as an adult.

3. Negligent homicide is a felony in Tennessee, and it may result in a five-to-ten-year prison sentence.

4. The chainsaw is too heavy for a child to control safely.

5. All the electrical outlets are within the reach of a six-year old, and little Jimmy might plug that one in while he plays.

6. Little Jimmy might damage your expensive toolset if you leave him unattended.

7. Little Jimmy might damage my expensive toolset if you leave him unattended.

8. Little Jimmy is an only child, and his parents will be heartbroken if he injures himself.

9. A six-inch circular saw revolves at 300 r.p.m., and the carbon-filament cuts through organic tissues at a disproportionate ratio to the 0.05 second temporal interval necessary for neural impulses to monitor pain in the bodily extremities of a tool user's digits.

10. The parents will bring legal action against you if any children injure themselves with your powertools, and you will be sued for a great deal of money.

11. The cost of hospitals--even with insurance--is more than most families could afford.

12. The Heaven's Gate cult strictly forbids the use of power-tools, as the electrical energy from it distorts the human aura with bad vibrations.

13. Little Jimmy has not yet had sufficient training to operate dangerous machinery without causing injury to others.

14. You let Jimmy play with the last set of powertools; it's Susie's turn now.

15. Joe Bob McGillicutty, the president of Jigsaw Powertools, Incorporated, forbids children from using them in the owner's manual.

16. It will be difficult to get the bloodstains out of the toolshed's ceiling.

17. Your family's insurance will not cover children from other households.

18. Your suggestion that Jimmy can do the job more safely than Uncle Bob can do it is erroneous.

19. You should wait until the insurance policy comes through, so you can cash in and get rich when Jimmy has his accident.

REMEMBER: There is more than one way to build an argument, and not all arguments are equally persuasive. You will have the best possible chance of convincing someone of your own argument if you carefully adapt your writing to work with and incorporate concerns that you share with the reader, rather than simply relying on your own beliefs and concerns.


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