Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of one of the important arguments encountered, i.e. explain what makes an argument or point of view convincing or unconvincing. Concentrate on explaining how economic reasoning, models, and/or evidence are or could be used to weaken or strengthen the argument discussed.

Essay 5 (I provided a strong example from a different topic but same kind of paper in files.)

THIS IS NOT A BOOK REPORT OR SUMMARY (you are arguing authors points and ideas)

The Economic Ramifications of Shades of Color Read through Howard Bodenhorn, The Color Factor: The Economics of African American Well-Being in the Nineteenth Century South (New York: Oxford University Press,
2015), Chapter 6. Write your critical essay on some issue found therein.

THIS IS NOT A BOOK REPORT OR SUMMARY

Each essay is not to exceed five pages in length. These essays are not research papers. Do not search out other sources in the library or online. Focus only on the assigned readings and class discussions. Present a critical assessment of the assigned reading on a relatively narrow and specific issue found therein. Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of one of the important arguments encountered, i.e. explain what makes an argument or point of view convincing or unconvincing. Concentrate on explaining how economic reasoning, models, and/or evidence are or could be used to weaken or strengthen the argument discussed. Elucidate in detail. Simply summarizing the material or writing a book report is not acceptable. In fact, avoid excessively over summarizing what you will be critically appraising. Get quickly to your our analytical contribution. You can assume that I have read the book.

General Advice on Writing Critical Essays:

A critical essay should discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the authors arguments and evidence. Are the authors explanations convincing, are they complete, how are you convinced, what evidence and economic reasoning is presented, is the evidence and economic reasoning strong or weak? How is it strong or weak? And so on. Dont just state an opinion. Dissect the authors presentation. Articulate your judgments, and support them with your own reasoning, economic ideas, and use of the authors evidence. Explain why or how you arrived at your conclusions. Develop and elaborate your view in detail. You are not expected to be an expert in any field, but you are expected to be able to reason. Finally, you can also use your economic understanding (verbal and/or graphical/mathematical) to add to and develop the authors argument as a form of critical analysis.

For those having difficulty writing critical essays there are a few tricks that might help. It is better to discuss a few related points in detail than to list many undeveloped ideas. Narrow your discussion. Pick only the most important points and throw out minor ideas. If you are not going to discuss it in detail, dont bring it up. If you can write a five-page essay based on one paragraph or on one page in the assigned readings that is ok. Make your essay a coherent whole, rather than a piece of shotgun writing. Trace through, step by step, the logic of the authors argument. Are steps left out or is some kind of behavior not explained that is critical to the authors story? Explain how and why. Are there other reasonable economic explanations that the author did not rule out? Explain how these competing explanations work. What kinds of evidence are used to support the argument? Does the evidence really support the authors argument, or might the evidence fit some other (economic) explanation? Describe how it might fit some other explanation. What missing evidence would the author need to make the argument stronger? And so on….. Think of yourself as an economic lawyer. Either you must defend the author and keep your client from the gallows, or you are the prosecuting lawyer, and you are going to expose the authors careless economic crimes, explode the authors alibi, and separate the trustworthy evidence from untrustworthy evidence. Most people find it easier to be the prosecutor. Be creative in your application of economic thinking to the authors argument, but dont violate economic reasoning in your thinking. For example, arguments that assert a change in tastes or non-maximizing behavior are violations of economic methodologydont use them. And remember, this is not a book report. Dont just summarize the reading. Finally, just because the author is your professor does not mean you should not be critical. Arguments and evidence exist separate from the individual. A kiss-ass essay will get you a zero.