Essay skill: When a dichotomy is presented

15 05 2011

di·chot·o·my

[dahy-kot-uh-mee]

–noun, plural -mies.
1. division into two parts, kinds, etc.; subdivision into halves orpairs.
2. division into two mutually exclusive, opposed, orcontradictory groups: a dichotomy between thought andaction.
3. Botany . a mode of branching by constant forking, as in somestems, in veins of leaves, etc.
– dictionary.com
Consider this question:
‘People, not the government, should decide how to organise their lives.’ Is this a fair comment? (2004)
Now consider these questions:
(1) People should be the ones who decide how to organise their lives. Is this a fair comment?
(2) The governemnt should not decide how to organise their people’s lives. Is this a fair comment?
Questions
How to the requirements of the original, 2004 essay question differ from questions (1) and (2) above? What does this tell you about the skills required to tackle questions that present us with a dichotomy?
What are the underlying assumptions in questions tat present us with a dichotomy? Are these assumptions necessarily fair? How and where in our essay might we address these assumptions?


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