Philosophical & Ethical Issues in the Mass Media
Assignment - Essay

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York University
Faculty of Liberal and Professional Studies
AK/PHIL/ADMS4295 6.0
Philosophical and Ethical Issues in the Mass Media
Professors Claudio Duran and
Louise Ripley
Assigned January 25, 2006

Take Home Assignment
Due Wednesday March 1, by 7:15 p.m.

Choose two print advertisements (they must be print so that you can attach copies) that are related in some way.

Using what you have learned about formal logic and informal fallacies, and what you have learned about argumentation and advertising, including all the materials we have covered up through Week 20, with particular reference to the work of Michael Gilbert and Multi-Modal Argumentation, write a 6 to 8 page essay that analyzes the two advertisements you have chosen.

Submit your essay typed double-spaced in not less than 11 point type, standard font, black print, with 1” inch margins all around, portrait orientation, single column - in other words just a plain paper on plain white paper, stapled not bound (use no covers). You should try not to go over 8 pages, and you may, if you are a succinct writer, find that you can do this in fewer than 6, but you should probably not write fewer than 4 pages.  

As a fourth year student you are expected to be be able to write a formal essay; part of your mark will be for essay structure. If you need some review of what constitutes a formal essay, visit this page on Louise’s website:

We also remind you that in this course we want to hear what you think as well as what you have learned from the works of others you have studied in this course. You also can find in that same section a description of the differences between these two kinds of input, in the terms used by dian marino, professor of Environmental Studies: the "i" statement and the epistemological showdown. Be sure to use both in your essay.

Some Hints on Writing This Essay: from Tutorial Discussions:

Look closely at the paragraph beginning with "Using what you have learned." Always, when writing an assignment go through the actual assignment from the professor(s) and underline or make a list of everything they mention in the actual instructions that they want you to include. When we are making up a list of things to give credit for, we will usually start with this. A top paper would include at least some reference to every item included there, to every topic we've covered, to every unit, every speaker. If you believe that your ad does not have something listed there (a fallacy? you think you've found an ad without a fallacy? Call the Guinness Book of World Records!) then state so in your paper, but be sure to mention it. Unlike the midterm where Claudio worked hard to try to have only one fallacy in each example, there most likely will be more than one fallacy in an ad. Put particular emphasis on Michael Gilbert's work, particularly on the four modes of Multi-Modal Argumentation. You don't have to agree with the method; you do have to explore it.

DON'T FORGET SEMESTER ONE MATERIAL! I'm hearing in class and on the email from too many people who are writing syllogisms that don't make any sense! Remember the format:

All M are P
All S are M
Therefore all S are P

Your syllogism should refer in the first line to a more general statement about products of this type, in the second line to your product, and then the conclusion should say something about why the reader should buy this particular product. There must be a solid line of reasoning. There MUST BE that "All M are P, All S are M, therefore all S are P" logic in the syllogism!

The ads only have to be related in some way so that your essay will be easier for you to write and so that it will flow better as an essay. Two years ago we found when marking the essays that if a student had chosen two totally unrelated ads, the essay tended to read as two unrelated parts. Find some connection; it will make your essay a better essay.

Remember Louise's advice not to have the conclusion of your syllogisms "Buy this product." Yes, ultimately the advertiser wants you to buy the product, but most ads are more sophisticated than that. The ad usually makes an argument with a conclusion that will eventually lead you to realize that because of that conclusion you should buy the product. Besides, it makes for much more interesting analysis if you don't have as a conclusion to every ad the same conclusion: Buy this product.

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AK/PHIL/ADMS4295 6.0 Philosophical and Ethical Issues in the Mass Media
York University, Toronto
© M Louise Ripley, M.B.A., Ph.D.