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Rhetorically Comparing Texts

  1. To start, you will find two credible sources on the approved topic. The two sources should be different from each other in terms of at least one of the following: audience, purpose, genre. For example, you can find a persuasive source and an informative source (that would be two different purposes); or you can find a source that’s written for scientists and one that’s written for a general audience. However, both should be written texts (do not use videos or other media).
  2. Summarize each of the sources and discuss how their arguments compare: What do they agree on? How did they build on each other? What did you learn from one source that you didn’t learn from the other source? Which do you think was most useful to helping you understand the topic and why? Was that related to the information included, or the way that information was “packaged”?
    3.
    Analyze the rhetorical choices made by each text, paying particular attention to how the sources are different from each other. You’ll want to consider how they are different (in terms of audience, purpose, and genre), what stylistic choices they make, and how their differences shape how these texts can participate in the conversation. Please use specific examples from the text to support your analysis. Your answer for the rhetorical analysis section should be at least 300 words long.

Sample Solution

"All our knowledge begins with the senses, proceeds then to the understanding, and ends with reason. There is nothing higher than reason." -Immanuel Kant "Ask yourself why you're happy and you will cease to be so." - John Stuart Mill Two of the most widely known ethical philosophers are Immanuel Kant and John Stuart Mill. While they may have philosophized around the same time period, the philosophers have very different ideas about ethics and happiness. Immanuel Kant, author of Duty and Reason, believed in the morality of the good will and duty. He espoused that happiness is an irrelevancy insofar as fulfilling duty is the most important aspect of leading a moral life. Conversely, John Stuart Mill, who wrote, The Greatest Happiness Principle, is well known for his utilitarian mindset, the greatest happiness for the greatest amount. While they may have disagreed about what makes an action ethical, Kant and Mill are both extremely significant philosophers whose ideas about morality, duty and happiness are important to critically analyze. Kant and Mill have similar, though often differing, beliefs regarding how the moral value of an action ought to be judged, the relations between the moral and natural good, and what the duty is for both of these. Kant argued that in order for something to be moral, it must be done from duty. He calls this the moral law (law is a product of reason) or the moral good and said there were two forms of this feeling of obligation expressed in the categorical imperative. Essentially, the categorical imperative consists of acting on maxims that can be considered a universal law and always treating people as ends and not means. By acting on maxims that can be considered moral law, Kant meant that ethical decisions should be based on a greater ideal. This maxim, however, should not just be applicable to you in the situation. Instead, for a maxim to be moral it needs to be applicable to everyone, otherwise it's not a moral law and not morally rational. The reason this is so important is that it directly relates to a sense of duty. A person who believes themselves the exception to whatever moral decision or maxim they've made up is not swayed from duty, instead they're swayed by inclination. In other words, they make a decision based on what's best for them and not based on moral reason. Thus for Kant, duty and moral law are very closely linked in the quest for taking ethical actions. John Stuart Mill, on the other hand, judges morality a little bit differently. He argues that the amount of suffering and happiness is what denotes the morality of an action and thus strongly believes the consequences of an action are what decide its morality. He claims that an act is good or right insofar as it brings the greatest amount of happiness to the greatest amount of people. By happiness he means pleasure and joy as opposed to pain and suffering. From his point of view, the happiness derived from an action doesn't even have to be that person's own. Rather, as long as it makes more people happy than unhappy, it is moral. The nature of morality of an act for Mill is its consequence. While motive in an action initially affects the agent, it has little to do with the consequences and therefore the morality. This may sound flawed because it doesn't adequately explain why a person would care about someone else's happiness over their own. However, according to Mill, people are still apt to be moral even if the moral path doesn't make them happy because of internal sanctions. These sanctions ensure a person fulfills his or her utilitarian duty, which is essentially ensuring decisions made about actions cause the least amount of suffering for the smallest amount of people. These sanctions generally show themselves in a person as guilt or other forms of mentally internal pain. For Mill and utilitarianism, sanctions are inevitable if you don't abide by the philosophy's rules. As guilt is often a painful enough reason not to do something, a person does not choose happiness over duty. As far as happiness goes, Kant als
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