A Valueof University Degrees According to Mark Kingwell

Published: 2021-09-11 06:10:10
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Category: Higher Education

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In North America, many young men and women have the opportunity to attend a form of higher education, like a university. However, some students may find it difficult to decide what to study. The social norm appears to push students towards degrees that are considered “useful” or lead to financial gains after university, like studying science to become a doctor. Author, Mark Kingwell (2012), in his article, “Intellectuals and democracy,” attempts to use rhetorical strategies, such as pathos, ethos, and logos, to criticize North Americans who only see a value in university degrees which promote financial benefits, like the STEM degrees (science, technology, engineering, and math). However, while trying to use emotional, logical, and economical arguments to promote humanities and non-applied sciences, Kingwell isolates members of his audience. This reduces the number of his supporters and potentially invalidates his argument.
Kingwell begins his argument by attempting to provoke the emotions of unfairness and anger from the reader towards those who don’t see a value in non-science based degrees. He does this by describing an encounter he had with a Judge. The Judge apparently asked him what his philosophy students could “do” with their degrees (Kingwell, 2012, p.176). But, Kingwell goes further to describe the Judge by a few of her other traits that are irrelevant to the topic, instead of just mentioning her remark. For example, he includes, “she left without contributing to the bill” (Kingwell, 2012, p.176). By doing this Kingwell is attempting to characterize people who receive “useful” degrees as being condescending and thinking themselves better than those who do not. What Kingwell doesn’t realize is that by adding these irrelevant facts about the Judge’s character he creates a negative serotype of those who study STEM and alienates those who may agree with his views on education, but still pick to study STEM degrees. With his paper, Kingwell wishes to change society’s views on education, but if he insults a good portion of society he will not have the numbers required to create a social change.Kingwell then decides to appeal to his readers by using logic. Between paragraphs eighteen and twenty-two he tries to analyze his opponent’s argument that students should get material benefits from going to university. While this may seem like a good strategy, Kingman flaunts his philosophical knowledge to the extent that it makes his analysis almost incomprehensible to those who do not study philosophy. As an example, Kingwell mentions “Hegel’s Phenomenology,” in his analysis (2012, p.178). Those who do not study philosophy may not know what Hegel’s Phenomenology is. Again Kingwell is alienating people from his argument because they are not able to understand him. Kingwell also makes himself appear like he believes he is better than those who may not be able to understand his references. This may make him unliked and decrease his number of supporters. Most people do not enjoy listening to someone who seems to be an arrogant know it all.
Finally, Kingwell tries to give an economical value to his argument. He states at the end of his essay that even if humanities and non-applicable science students are not able to get the financial benefit that STEM students get, studying humanity and non-applicable sciences give the students something more precious than money: knowledge of the world. Kingwell argues that the knowledge gained from these degrees, “make us better more engaged citizens,” (Kingwell, 2012, p.179). This again makes Kingwell seem cocky and possible unliked. He is essentially doing what the Judge had done to him. Kingwell is taking away the value of getting a degree in a hard science and saying that those who pursue these degree are not as educated as those who receive humanity degrees. In attempt to argue for the value of his own field, Kingwell becomes his own enemy.
In Conclusion, Mark Kingwell’s inadequate use of the rhetorical devices has deprived him of supporters. In his attempt to appeal to the emotions of his reader, Kingwell created a stereotype which alienated those who might have agreed with him; his logical appeal made his argument confusing and possibly unliked; his economical appeal made him sound cocky and took away the value of STEM degrees just like the judge took away the value of non-STEM degrees. If Kingwell wishes to change the minds of North Americans’ he needs more compassion in his argument towards those who do not study humanities and non-applicable sciences. Otherwise, he will not have the majority to support him and no social change will occur.

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