Saturday, July 14, 2012

[PL 211] Dreams Deferred

Distinguishing between arguments and explanations is a tricky business. An argument provides reasons (the premises) to believe that a claim (the conclusion) is true (or probable). An explanation, on the other hand, doesn’t provide reasons. Instead, it offers (potential) causes for why something is the way it is or an account of how something came into being.

For example, many Israelis think that the Jews’ history of persecution gives Israel a reason to oppress the Palestinians. However, the Jews’ history of persecution is not a reason to believe that Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian is justified. Rather, the Jews’ history of persecution (partly) explains why Israel oppresses the Palestinians.

Now, in Israel, it is often said that Israel waited eight year before it retaliated against rocket fire from the Gaza Strip (in operation Cast Lead) because Israel tried other ways of solving this issue, thus implying that operation Cast Lead was justified. But is the fact that Israel waited eight years a reason to believe that the Gaza War was justified? Or is that an explanation for why the war started when it did?

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