Analyzing Deductive and Inductive Arguments in To Kill a Mockingbird
Film Background: Gregory Peck plays defense attorney, Atticus Finch, in the film To Kill a Mockingbird. The story is about a young man accused of rape. Toward the end of the trial, Atticus Finch is giving his summation to the jury.
He must be careful not to alienate the members of the jury, whom he regards as potentially biased against the defendant because of his race. Finch first argues the prosecution has not proved a crime was actually committed, then claims the accused, Tom Robinson, could not physically have done what the prosecution claims.
Finch, believing he must do more than make claims and logical arguments establishing reasonable doubt, addresses a key question: Why would the young woman accuser have lied about being raped by the accused, Tom Robinson?
Finch says he has pity for the victim, then argues by accusing Tom Robinson, the victim was attempting to rid herself of her own guilt. The defense attempts to challenge the prejudicial assumption races other than Caucasian cannot be trusted.
View these scenes. After you have viewed the clips, please complete the following:
Listen carefully to the claim and arguments made by Atticus Finch in his speech to the jury.
Deductive Arguments: 1) Prosecution has not proven Tom Robinson raped Mayella; 2) Physically, Tom Robinson could not have raped Mayella
Inductive Arguments: 1) Jury is racist; 2) Mayella accused Tom Robinson of rape to rid herself of guilt
Hint: Finch has only one claim: Robinson is innocent.
First, use the techniques in Chapter 5 to map Finch’s claim and reasons/premises.
Then, use what you learned in Chapters 7, 8, and 9 to evaluate Finch’s claim and arguments. This means, you will:
Evaluate Finch’s reasons/premises using The Four Tests of Worthiness. You will evaluate all of Finch’s reasons (orange ovals) you created in your maps to support the claim using The Four Tests of Worthiness.
This means for each reason (orange oval) that supports a claim, you will evaluate for truthfulness, strength, relevance, and non-circularity.
Write at least four sentences assessing the logical strength of the inferences Finch presents to imply the conclusions must certainly be true if we take all the premises to be true (Deductive Arguments); and
Write at least four sentences assessing the logical strength of the inferences Finch presents to justify or support the belief the conclusions are very probably, but not necessarily, true if we take their premises to be true (Inductive Arguments).
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