Critical Assessment of an Article
Critical Assessment of an Article
Provide a detailed critical assessment of an article that I will upload.
Identify the argumentative moves that the author makes.
-The opening paragraph should state the overall conclusion of of the article.
-Use the paragraph numbers when you reference text from the article in the critique.
-Provide a diagram of the overall argument structure.
-Provide loopholes and assess the support of sub-arguments.
-Add implicit premises to arguments that need them and suggest ways on how to improve the argument in ways that are stronger than implicit premises.
-Include any damning evidence you may find.
-Critique should be more than just a summary of the article, provide critical analysis.
1. You know from the start that there’s something creepy about Kathy H., the narrator of “Never Let Me Go,” Kazuo Ishiguro’s recent and widely acclaimed coming-of-age novel. Though Kathy’s fond memories of adolescence are set at a tony English boarding school, with its cliques and pranks and furtive hookups, it’s clear that she is no child of privilege. As we learn to our dismay, she and her peers are clones – members of a caste created and trained for no other purpose than to provide healthy organs for the sick and feeble.
Catherine Wagner/Stephen Wirtz Gallery
2. Genetic duplicates are hardly new to literature and pop culture – think of Huxley’s worker-drone Epsilons in “Brave New World” – but Ishiguro’s protagonist is different. Despite the novel’s fantastic premise and Kathy’s gruesome lot, she is unmistakably a person – not a monster or a menace or a comic device but a young woman struggling to figure out who she is and what she wants. “Never Let Me Go” is something of a cultural landmark: a subtle, sympathetic portrait of the inner life of a clone.
3. The imaginative leap that Ishiguro takes is instructive. Today most people condemn the very thought of cloning for reproduction – that is, to make a child. But with the exception of the religious right, Americans increasingly embrace cloning for research, with its promise of miracle cures for our most debilitating ills. Ishiguro’s tale flips this emerging consensus on its head. What’s upsetting about Kathy isn’t her existence as a clone but rather the fate that has been assigned to her: to die young, used up for the medical benefit of others. She is at once a literary protest against research cloning and, by virtue of her strength as a character, a quiet suggestion that reproductive cloning may not be so troubling after all.
4. A bill now before Congress would allow federally financed stem-cell research on embryos that would otherwise be thrown out by fertility clinics. Abortion foes hope to head off the legislation with their own proposals encouraging alternate sources of stem cells. But all of this is just a warm-up. The issue hovering in the background is cloning, what scientists call somatic cell nuclear transfer (S.C.N.T.). For researchers in the field, as well as for the various interests that lobby on their behalf – universities, patient groups, the biotech industry – the real prize is public support for work not just on “spare” embryos but also on cloned ones.
5. Embryonic stem cells can develop into almost any of the body’s specialized cells, a capacity that gives them enormous therapeutic potential (as yet unrealized) for the treatment of diseases like Alzheimer’s and diabetes. They might also make it possible to cultivate new tissue for failing organs. Researchers fear, however, that the immune systems of would-be patients will reject stem cells whose DNA is foreign to them. How to solve the problem? By drawing stem cells from embryonic clones of the patients themselves.
6. This is a far cry, of course, from the system of organ farming that furnishes the horrifying backdrop of “Never Let Me Go.” The nascent being destroyed in research cloning is no larger than the dot atop this printed “i” – not a fetus and certainly not a baby. Indeed, advocates like the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research have energetically denounced any cloning that might result in reproduction. The one “clear, bright line” that shouldn’t be crossed, said the group’s president, is the “implantation” of a clone in a woman’s uterus.
7. Still, you don’t have to be a raving Bible-thumper to entertain moral doubts about so-called therapeutic cloning (“therapeutic,” that is, for potential patients; not such a great deal for the embryos). All you need is a bit of Kant from Ethics 101, especially the part about treating other people, presumably even proto-people, not as a means to your own ends but as ends in themselves. It is an injunction hard to square with the literature on S.C.N.T., with its talk of “harvesting” and “programming” stem cells. The language of the scientists and their supporters is clinical, meliorative and humane, but it gives off an unmistakable whiff of cannibalism.
8. Some see the cloning debate as just another skirmish in the abortion war. After all, if it is permissible to abort an embryo, what could be wrong with putting it to some lifesaving use instead? But abortion is an ordeal unsought by the woman who faces it, a tragedy of circumstance. There is, by contrast, nothing accidental or contingent about creating nascent human life with the declared aim of destroying it. It is the deliberate use of one (developing) person as the instrument of another, a practice that should give pause even to those who ardently favor abortion rights.
9. As for Ishiguro’s doomed Kathy H., is she a prototype of future clones? Certainly not in the harsh fate she suffers as a “donor.” No one is going to deny the rights of a clone that escapes the petri dish, which helps to explain why the proponents of research cloning so noisily forswear any intention of producing babies. The first actual child born of S.C.N.T. will make it that much more difficult to treat other clones as raw material for experimentation.
10. What may most surprise us about that first child is its ordinariness. Critics worry that clones will be grotesque puppets, the manufactured playthings of their creators, lacking all individuality. But Ishiguro allows us to glimpse a different possibility. Though Kathy is a genetic duplicate, she is nobody’s double or distorted reflection. She is her own person, indeed a young woman of growing self-awareness and independence. If she really existed, she might even be in Washington just now, raising her voice against the evils of therapeutic cloning.
Gary Rosen is the managing editor of Commentary magazine and the editor of a new anthology, “The Right War? The Conservative Debate on Iraq.”