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Strong and weak cases

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Look at another sample introduction - this time a response to the flood hypothesis essay topic considered in the previous section. In this sample, there are two alternative final sections - where the student's case is introduced.

Sample introduction

This essay is concerned with the often acrimonious debate between those who believe in biblical explanations of major events in the archaeological record and those who draw on a paradigm of natural forces. Walter Brown proposes a 'scientific case for creation', as it is described in Genesis. Within this argument, he attempts to demonstrate that the Bible's account of a worldwide deluge is accurate. Robert Schadewald's tract - Six "Flood" Arguments Creationists Can't Answer disputes particular creationist views as a means of demonstrating the lack of testing behind creationist theories and hence their scientific foundations.

Case 1

... In this essay I shall argue that the ideas of both writers have merit and it is very difficult to come to a judgment about who has the stronger case. Answers to these questions cannot really be decided on until further evidence is unearthed.

Case 2

... In this essay, I shall argue that, in relation to these texts, Schadewald's arguments are clearly more substantial than Brown's. But I shall also argue that Schadewald's use of selective evidence detracts from the merit of his objections, both to specific flood hypotheses and to creationist methods in general.

Which is better?

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Essay topic

Walter Brown argues that there is scientific evidence for a worldwide flood. What is your assessment of the alleged evidence? Do you think that Schadewald's arguments provide compelling objections to the flood hypothesis?

Case 2 is better. You will notice that in Case 1, the student has avoided making his own clear judgement - asserting that 'the ideas of both writers have merit'. This is a good example of fence-sitting - a position that is not normally encouraged in Philosophy essays.

In Case 2, the student has been bolder - she has made a clear judgement about the relative merits of the two writers' ideas, but goes on to point out that the stronger ideas are also not without their problems.

For more information about stating a case, see FAQ 2 in Lecturer's Advice.

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