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Sample body paragraphs on Rifkin

Page history last edited by Rose Burt 10 years, 11 months ago

Disclaimer: These paragraphs are taken from multiple sources. They are meant to show examples of possible body paragraphs, which students should analyze to decide what works and what doesn't. Not all paragraphs are good models.



     In "A Change of Heart About Animals," a 2003 editorial published in the Los Angeles Times, Jeremy Rifkin argues that new research calls into question many of the boundaries commonly thought to exist between humans and other animals. As a consequence, he suggests that humans should expand their empathy for animals and treat them better. To support this argument, Rifkin points to studies suggesting that animals can acquire language, use tools, exhibit self-awareness, anticipate death, and pass on knowledge from one generation to the next. Rifkin's argument provides a much-needed expansion of human empathy "to include the broader community of creatures" (Rifkin 16). However, a logical extension of Rifkin's argument requires that humans anthropomorphically proscribe all characteristics of human emotions on animals in ways that are not supported by similar studies. In order to more clearly define the limits of similar emotions in humans and animals, I will here outline the lack of guilt, morality, and spiritual faith in animals.


Potential body paragraphs


Body Paragraph A:

     A researcher at Barnard College, Andrea Horowitz writes about a study that was done on dogs to determine where "the guilty look" comes from (Horowitz 447). In her article, she says that the guilty look is something that humans perceive, but that dogs actually emit as a response to owner behavior rather than any prior obedience or disobedience. This disagrees with Rifkin, because he claims that animals and humans share similar emotions.


Body Paragraph B:

     In a recent study at Barnard College, dogs who exhibited signs of "the guilty look" were tested to see if the look came as a result of animal disobedience or owner behavior (Horowitz 447). Guilt is an emotion that is often described as differentiating humans from animals. The results of this study indicate that dogs give the guilty look based on the cues their owners give them rather than any connection with their own disobedience (Horowitz 448). This proves that Rifkin's argument may be limited to baser emotions like excitement, grief, and stress - emotions that are instinctual and not of a higher order.


Body Paragraph C:

     Rifkin's argument examines several emotions that many might claim are instinctual; several critics have argued that excitement, grief, and stress are often impulsive emotions rather than ones achieved through reflection. Considering that animals do share some emotions, it is natural on this basis alone to extend our empathy to animals that feel other instinctual emotions - like pain - and to develop better practices accordingly. However, an examination of reflective emotions reveals limits in the connections between humans and animals. In a recent study at Barnard College, researchers demonstrated the false attribution of the feeling of guilt to dogs who had exhibited disobedient behavior. In an article describing the study, Andrea Horowitz concludes that the results "highlight the priority, instead [of guilt based on disobedience], of the human's behaviour over the evidence of wrongdoing" (Horowitz 450). In other words, the study indicates that the appearance of guilt arises as an instinctual reaction to human cues rather than any self-reflection on the dogs' part on the act in question. This is significant for two reasons: first, because it indicates a common misattribution of human emotions to animals on the part of pet owners, and secondly because it demonstrates the limits of Rifkin's argument in applying only to instinctual emotions rather than reflective emotions.

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