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Critical Thinking Evaluation

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The article to be discussed in this paper will be “I Just Can't Let My Little Boys Play with Toy Guns Any More” by Rob Harris (2012), taken from the National Times. The argument of the article could be standardized using the following asserted propositions:

1) Playing with toy guns makes children think that it is socially acceptable to shoot at one another.

2) There is a general problem of children not being currently educated regarding the social unacceptability of guns.

3) Our popular culture, including the movie industry, propagates violence based on shooting.

4) To withstand this trend proper, education must begin from home.

5) By beginning to educate the younger generation that guns are socially unacceptable, we facilitate the future peer-based social non-acceptance of guns, which is similar to drugs and alcohol.

The conclusion of this article is that the author will not allow his two children to play with toy guns anymore, making his own contribution to the necessary change in our society.

As one can see, the asserted propositions are not convergent, but linked. The author’s reasoning stems logically from one point to another. He begins with different types of children’s games with toy guns and presents it as a problem originating from the way of how shooting is positioned in our society. He goes on to assert that our popular culture is to blame for the way of how guns and shooting are acceptable in our minds and, consequently, in the minds of our children.

Then, since it would be naïve to think that a sweeping governmental change in this trend would be possible, the author asserts that changing the attitude towards guns should begin from educating one’s own children. The direction of education should put guns on the same level of social non-acceptance as drugs and alcohol. Thus, taking into account all the above-mentioned propositions of the arguments, the author tries to suggest that he wants to demonstrate a personal example of how he “practices what he preaches” and will not allow his own children to develop the social acceptance of guns in their own way.    

As far as counterarguments are concerned, the author suggests a number of them. First, he remembers the days of his own childhood and recalls how much fun he had with toy guns when he was a boy. Playing with them is a great fun today as well. Why steal the joy from your children? The second counterargument is based that the very games based on shooting teach an important lesson of the conflict between good and evil, eternally opposed, and that one should take either side in life. The third counterargument isthat violence is an intrinsic male trait in terms of men having a history of being the providers as hunters or gatherers. However, the author refutes such counterarguments that the popular culture has nowadays become much more graphic about shooting, and children have a tendency to copy the characters they see on television.  The violence of school shootings makes him begin to be intolerant towards all connections between guns and children, since toy guns can one day be substituted by real ones. As a result, what was practiced in games for years may become a painful experience for individual lives and our society in general.

Regarding the validity of the arguments, it could be suggested that some of the propositions that the author suggested are quite debatable. For example, let us touch upon that playing with toy guns makes children think that it is sociably acceptable to shoot at one another, and the author would not want to educate his children in this way. Why would the difference between a plot of a game and a real-life activity be eliminated? Moreover, while it is true to say that children currently do not play drunkards and drug-addicts, because such social phenomena are indisputably negative. We have important examples of carrying weapon for the sake of the good of the community – the police force and the army. The police officers and the military use their guns to protect us and neutralize enemies. If guns are put negatively, then all what the police and the military do for us is bad either. However, it is not. Guns cannot be equaled to drugs or alcohol, since there is nothing good, positive or healthy in consuming too much alcohol or substances that change one’s senses of perception and eventually deteriorate one’s body and mind.

With guns, it is different. It all depends upon the end purpose of taking a gun into your hand. What is more, it is the problem of why a certain young or mature person takes a gun and fires it at school. It is not the problem of the wickedness of this tool. The education that should be provided is, first of all, not on how socially unacceptable guns are, but why parents bring up their children in such a manner that they see demonstrated violence as the final and the only solution to their psychological or other problems.   

Thus, the very idea of social unacceptability of guns may not be grounded enough to assert that guns are a negative phenomena and must be isolated from children’s minds even in terms of game playing. Children should know of the good and bad sides of what firearms are, be able to evaluate them and understand why it is important to concentrate on such aspects as protecting people, rather than attacking them; and neutralizing gunned enemies of people’s peace and joy of life, rather than becoming such enemies (criminals).

It is the job of parents to raise theirr children in such a manner that guns would mean to them something like a sword to a medieval knight, and not a tool for wicked deeds. If children or grown-ups enjoy evil, this is not because they had fun playing with toy guns. It is the problem of why they were convinced that taking the side of evil was more fulfilling for them.        

This holds true likewise of the proposition that our movie industry emphasizes on the killing and Rambo-type bloodshed. What we watch and what we encourage our children to watch is purely a matter of our choice. There are plenty of movies and TV series, which, on the contrary, de-emphasize the killing, but stress the importance of being socially positive, ingenious and heroic without bloodshed for the sake of good of a community or society in general. Such movie productions demonstrate that killing is very far from being a solution to a problem, but rather that one’s real power is not in guns, but in their spirit, heart and mind.

Taking the author’s premises the way they are discussed in details above makes them invalid and, consequently, makes the conclusion invalid as well. It is disagreeable that isolating one’s children from playing games with guns will help them treating firearms in the proper way. It sounds too far-fetched to say that games with guns educate children in a negative manner.  

As we know, an invalid argument is, in other words, a failed deductive argument. However, it can happen that premises are true, but the conclusion is not guaranteed, despite that it is believable, but. In the case of the discussed article, some premises can be suggested to be invalid or valid, so it would be possible to say that there is a way of claiming that the author’s conclusion is believable, but not guaranteed.

If the author’s conclusion is taken as a way to prohibit his two children playing with toy guns any more, then it can be inferred that it will be at least not pledged to say that his children will be raised in a more proper manner without guns. We cannot say for sure, as it relates to the future. At the same time, in this case even some of the invalid premises cannot guarantee that his conclusion will never have a chance to be true for his personal case.

Thus, if we take into consideration such way of thinking, it could be suggested that the author’s conclusion may be true for his personal situation, yet definitely cannot be true as a hard and fast rule for any case of an interaction of parents and children. It is quite possible to say that applying the notions of validity and invalidity of premises and facing a combination of them makes a critical evaluation of the conclusion less simple. Any way of putting it as a failed deductive argument would be too superficial in the case of this article. 

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