Tim Keller, The Reason For God, (Riverhead Trade: New York) ISBN: 978-1594483493
The essay should include an account of Keller’s overall point in the chapter including a brief summary of the major significant elements that he uses to make that point.
The focus of the essay, however, should be on one of the arguments that Keller uses to make his overall point. In addressing this point, you should do two things—analyze Keller’s reasoning and evaluate Keller’s reasoning.
In the analysis of the argument, there are two primary tasks.
First, the argument needs to be stated as clearly as possible. In stating the argument, clearly identify the conclusion and each of the premises of the argument. In addition, as best you can, identify the argument form that is being used. It may be helpful to refer to The Little Logic Book for thinking about how to state the arguments.
Secondly, you should explain the argument. To explain the argument you should two things.
1. You should identify the key terms that Keller defines and make sure to clearly state those definitions.
2. You should identify the grounds for each of the premises of the argument. This does not mean that you should paraphrase or in some other way restate each premise. Rather, it means that you should identify why he thinks that someone should agree to each premise. Does he provide an argument for it? Does it seem to be common knowledge? Does he appeal to an authority? Does he tell a story to try to get the reader to see that it is true?
In the evaluation of the argument there are three primary tasks.
First, you should address whether or not the argument is valid. Is any fallacy committed?
Secondly, you should address the soundness of the argument. Addressing soundness involves three elements.
1. Are key terms adequately defined?
2. Are the premises in fact true? If you think that a premise is not true, provide reasons for thinking that it is not true. Be sure to be specific about which premise you are objecting to.
3. Are the premises well-grounded? Does Keller provide a plausible basis for believing each premise?
Thirdly, you should clearly identify whether you think that Keller adequately achieved his purpose, both in the particular argument that you analyzed and in making the overall point that he makes in the chapter.
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