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American Eyes -- Writer's Poke #217

Students in my Advanced Composition classes write argumentative essays; I tell them that I won't grade them on the position that they take, but I also remind that that not all positions are equal.

Some have difficulty taking a position at all. And when I remind them that they need to acknowledge and refute opposing points of view, sometimes they simply acknowledge all points of view without clearly staking their claim to one.

Not all positions are equally valid, however; this might sound rather subjective, but arguing, for example, that sweatshops are "good" is not really a defensible position to take. One student attempted to take that position, though, citing that it beat the alternatives. Sweatshops, for example, allowed the economies in third world countries to grow, gave the workers a living wage of $1 per day, and kept children from even worse fates, such as the sex trade.

He thought he was making a strong case.

How does being an American color ideas of right and wrong?

"America is a vast conspiracy to make you happy." -- John Updike


  1. My thought here is that the world is not made up of either extreme good or extreme evil, exclusively. Are "sweat shops" good? Of course not. Are they perhaps better than any alternative available to the people working in them? If the latter is the case, then what should be done abou it, and who should do it?

  2. I really would like to see an answer to that question, but I realize this is not the correct medium to hope for that.


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