Critical Analysis Keyes Vs. Dershowitz

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Critical Analysis Keyes Vs. Dershowitz


In a debate asking “Does organized religion hold answers to the problems of the twenty first century?”, two very intelligent and credible men go head to head in a debate that ultimately questions life as a whole. Alan Keyes, an American conservative political activist argues the role of religion in morality. While Alan Dershowitz, an American lawyer and Harvard professor argues that morality has no relationship with religion and that doing the right thing is something that’s done on your own. Analyzing their use of logos, pathos, ethos and writing style will help determine if these arguments make sense and the meaning of each argument.

Keyes says people nowadays are shaped by what new knowledge we gain from technology and science. Knowledge is power and sometimes it can be destructive, unless it is protected by the will to morally do the right thing. Keyes is arguing that religion helps people do the right thing, and that is why he strongly believes religion is an important aspect of life. Keyes states that religion helps people treat each other equally and creates a feeling of wanting to achieve goodness. He goes on to say that we do question if there is importance in religion and faith in solving problems, and this question does come up over time. His main idea is that the most important role of religion in present time is the promotion of moral judgement and to create a sense of responsibility. He supports this by speaking of the importance of the need for people to be responsible, as well as morally responsible to handle dangerous knowledge well. The idea behind his words are that morals can be maintained from a little help from religion.

Keyes appeals to logos by mentioning all the positive things that have happened. For example, finding cures to diseases, declines in the poverty rate, raises in the median income, and the economy is booming. This appeals to logos because he is supporting his argument by stating facts about the positive side of the present. He also speaks about the researching of human biology, which could open doors to new knowledge that can help the world. He switches over to the negative side and questions whether people can handle knowledge and if there moral wisdom will increase with knowledge. If it does not, can it have destructive effects? The answer to that question we know; It can have destructive affects. We have learned this from our past. The horrible tragedies and holocausts that no one expected. This appeals to logos because he is stating true facts about our past that anyone can agree with.

Keyes speaks about how he observed that everyone thought India was going to starve because of overpopulation but now they export food to the world. He relates this to his point of not everything is as sad as the world makes it out to be. Pathos is shown here because he is trying to maintain a positive and upbeat thought on everything. He is tying together religion and problems with urging everyone to believe that the world isn’t so bad. On a bit more cynical side, Keyes uses pathos to discuss how sad the phrase “Power ultimately only respects a greater power”. This triggers emotions because how much power someone has, shouldn’t be used to measure respect towards another person. People feel this emotion of unfairness with that phrase. On a day to day life, people feel this kind of pressure from their peers or someone considered to be above them. Keyes uses this phrase to connect that the only higher power he respects is god and ultimately no one can compare to him.