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PHL137: CRITICAL THINKING
FINAL ASSESSMENT

Part I: Standardisation of “Ban the Burqa – A Campaign Promise”

Conclusion: We must ban the burqa.

1. Australia does not tolerate medieval customs that repress women.
1.1 The burqa is a medieval custom that represses women.
1.1.1 Harper believes it to be.*
1.2 Australia is a modern country with fair-minded people.*
1.2.1 Equality of women is a core Australian value.
1.2.2 81% of Australians are against wearing the burqa in public.
[Premises 1.1.1 and 1.1.2 convergent.]
[Premises 1.1 and 1.2 linked.]
2. The burqa is the tool of criminals.
2.1 It allows wrongdoing to go unchecked.
2.1.1 It guarantees anonymity.
2.2 People commit more crime when their identity is concealed.
2.2.1 A burqa was used in a robbery in Mainbrace.
2.2.2 Terrorist suicide bombers used burqas.
[Premises 2.2.1 and 2.2.2 convergent.]
[Premises 2.1 and 2.2 convergent.]
3. We should help police to fight crime.
3.1 The burqa conceals ones identity.
3.2 Unidentifiable suspects are difficult to catch.*
3.3 We currently help police to identify people. *
3.3.1 We don’t allow motorcyclists to wear their helmets in banks or at petrol
stations.
[Premises 3.1 and 3.2 linked. Premise 3.3 convergent.]
4. The burqa contravenes Australian diversity.
4.1 Immigrants should not try to recreate their old world.
4.2 Immigrants should not close themselves off from real Australian culture.
[Premises 4.1 and 4.2 convergent.]
[Premises 1 and 4 are convergent. Premises 2 and 3 are linked.]








Andrew Fischer 43668720
Part II: Analysis of Argument and Inferences as Standardised in “Ban the Burqa – A Campaign
Promise”
Premise One
The thought process behind premise one is that the burqa is a repressive piece of clothing, and such
pieces of clothing should not be allowed in Australia. If we accept the former statement on face
value, i.e. that the burqa is repressive, this premise seems reasonable. However, Colin Harper (the
Press Officer for Advance Australia) does not prove that the burqa is indeed a repressive item – at no
point does he reflect on the views of the women who indeed wear the burqa or offer any evidence.
Relying purely on his own view of the burqa, this does not prove to be convincing. Secondly,
Harper’s distinguishing of Australia as a modern country with fair-minded people seems credible, but
his belief that the equality of women is a core Australian value relies heavily on the first sub-premise
that the burqa does indeed repress women. Furthermore, Harper’s justification that Australia is
filled with ‘fair-minded people’ is the statistical proof that 81% of Australians are against the burqa
being worn in public. Unfortunately, this proof of popular support comes from a research poll that is
flawed for a number of reasons, the largest being the statistic of 81% actually came from the
question ‘whether the burqa should be allowed in court’.
Arguably, Harper commits two fallacies with this premise. The argument relies on the support of his
belief that the burqa is a repressive piece of clothing. Without further justification, this directly asks
us to appeal to his own expertise on the matter. As Harper does not claim to be a Muslim woman
nor have any understanding of the Islamic culture, this ungrounded appeal to his authority renders
the argument weak. Secondly, Harper attempts to appeal to popularity with his use of misleading
statistical evidence.
Premise Two
Harper’s second premise is that the burqa is the tool of criminals, implying that tools of criminals
should be banned. Firstly, Harper argues that the burqa allows wrongdoing to go unchecked as it
guarantees anonymity. Furthermore, he argues that people commit more crime with a concealed
identity. Here, he offers a number of examples, such as the robbery in Mainbrace and terrorist
suicide bombers.
There are a number of problems here. Firstly is the relevance of argument as a whole. If the burqa is
indeed by and large the tool of criminals purely because it can conceal ones’ face, does that mean
any other material or mask that is face-covering shall also be banned? If the burqa was indeed
something that was largely the tool of criminals, such as automatic weapons, Harper’s argument
may carry weight. However, since this is a religious piece of clothing and there is little evidence to
show it is widely used in crime, this argument is quite weak. Secondly, he also attempts to use the
example of the robbery in Mainbrace as justification, however upon looking at the police report of
the Mainbrace robbery, the only witness is not sure if the item used was a ‘Muslim face-scarf’ or an
‘IRA balaclava’. Harper’s hasty generalisation relies heavily on an appeal to his own authority.

Premise Three
This premise is meant to support the conclusion by adding justification to Premise Two, i.e.
explaining that we should help police fight crime by doing away with the ‘tool of criminals’. This
premise has a decent amount of justification, and is arguably the strongest premise of all four. Here,
Harper argues that we currently already help police to identify people, and thus we should continue
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to do so by banning the burqa and allowing everyone to be recognisable. Harper does provide an
example of allowing motorcyclists to wear their helmets in banks or at petrol stations.
While Harper does argue that we should ban the burqa using a more sturdy precedent, he does
draw on a somewhat average argument from analogy. Harper uses motorcyclists wearing helmets in
public places as analogues, people wearing the Burqa as the subject, and the target property of
being identifiable by police. The shared property is having a covered face. However, this analogy
misses the nature of the face-coverings – that is, the significance of the burqa to those who properly
wear it (women of the Islamic faith). This difference in the shared property, namely covering ones
face temporarily or all of the time for religious purposes, decreases the strength of this argument.
Furthermore, relying on the misuse of the burqa by a non-confirmed select few in Mainbrace does
not give enough justification for banning the proper use in all circumstances. While the analogy used
does carry some weight if supporting a claim such as whether the burqa should be used in court, it is
not an incredibly strong premise for this conclusion.
Premise Four
This premise is meant to support the main conclusion by proving that Australia is a diverse and
accepting nation, and the burqa contravenes this. Harper argues that immigrants should not try to
create their old world in Australia, nor should they close themselves off from real Australian culture.
There are a number of problems with this. Most obvious of all is the contradiction inherent in his
argument – diversity of cultures is an integral part of Australia, but the burqa as part of the Muslim
culture is not diverse and should be banned. Harper provides little to no justification as to why the
burqa does not bring another culture into Australia (thus increasing our diversity). Furthermore, he
does not explain how immigrants completely close themselves off from real Australian culture by
wearing the burqa. As this argument relies on contradictory definitions of diversity and a lack of
justification in any form, it is very weak.














Andrew Fischer 43668720
Part III: Analysis of the Language and Rhetoric used in “Ban the Burqa – A Campaign Promise”
Colin Harper argues that we should ban the burqa on the basis that it is a symbol of oppression, that
we should aid the fight against its use in crime, and that it flies in the face of Australia’s cultural
diversity. Throughout his argument, Harper uses a range of rhetorical devices, but the repeated
underlying technique he uses is to offer a false dilemma – either we ban the burqa in its entirety, or
suffer innumerable consequences.
The first two paragraphs of Harper’s argument offer an immediate aversion to two distinct trains of
thought regarding the burqa. Labelling those who think these two trains of thought as “liberal do-
gooders” uses Ad Hominem, painting these opinions in a negative light from the outset. It
establishes Harper’s general message and false dilemma – either believe that we should ban the
burqa, or you will not only be another ‘liberal do-gooder’ but you will be condoning crime and the
oppression of women. Even Harper’s characterisation of the opposing view (‘the symbol of female
repression that we must gently encourage Muslims to abandon’) assumes that it is a well-
established fact that the burqa is a repressive piece of clothing, a leading definition that helps his
argument.
This perceived establishment of the burqa as an oppressive item allows him to use emotive language
and vagueness throughout his argument to oppose this oppression. By further identifying the burqa
as a ‘medieval custom’ and as ‘backward “cultural” practices’, Harper pits the reader against the
burqa. Furthermore, consistently using the first person plural ‘we’ encourages a team mentality of
‘us vs the burqa’. This is reinforced with his characterisation of Australia as a ‘great country’ filled
with ‘fair-minded’ people, these vague terms encouraging the reader to agree with Harper’s point of
view.
Harper relies on an appeal to fear in a number of circumstances. The metaphor of a ‘growing sea of
Burqa wearing Muslims’ instils a sense of invasion and uncertainty towards the Islamic faith.
Furthermore, his suggestion of certainty in ‘not only is this a direct assault’ and the characterisation
of an allegedly burqa-wearing criminal as a ‘monster’ instils a sense of fear and opposition to the
burqa.
The use of the fallacy of equivocation is also evident in Harper’s argument, largely the use of the
phrases ‘diversity’ and ‘equality for women.’ In some instances, Harper looks upon diversity as a
positive thing – part of Australian ‘freedoms and values.’ However the diverse inclusion of the burqa
and Islamic culture in our society is then labelled as ‘(stopping) integration and diversity’. This
double meaning present in the argument largely diminishes its strength.
In Harper’s final paragraph, he makes another appeal to fear in naming the burqa ‘a threat to our
safety’, and calls upon his misleading statistics in an appeal to popularity. This ultimately attempts to
convince the reader of the inherent danger that justifies why we ‘must ban the burqa’, but his use of
argument ad nauseam and normative terms detracts from this motive.
Harper puts to use emotionally charged language and rhetorical devices of all forms in his argument,
and in some cases appears to commit fallacies. For the most part, this use of language is not
necessary and detracts from the rational core of his argument, a core that is limited in the first place.



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Part IV: Report on Roy Morgan Poll
The analysed poll is the Roy Morgan Poll published in Roy Morgan research on 6 August 2010:
‘Today’s special Morgan Poll finds: 81% of Australian electors do not believe women should be
allowed to wear a burka when giving evidence in court.’
SAMPLE:
Size – The sample size of this poll was very small, with only 434 electors taking part in the SMS poll.
Furthermore, the second question (which was the real question) was taken from half the electors,
leaving an even smaller sample size. Having an opinion on whether burqas should be allowed in
court is a heterogeneous property, and thus the sample size for this poll should have been
significantly larger. Given the title is phrased as 81% of Australian electors, the sample size is far too
small to be representative of a nation-wide belief.
Selection – The selection of this poll is very unrepresentative. First of all, it was likely to be a sub-
section of society that can use mobile phones and can SMS, which may rule out older generations
and children. Further, as it was self-selected, it was more likely to be those who feel strongly about
this issue, who are willing to spend money on an SMS to have their opinion heard. While not totally
unrepresentative, as it is possible that some strongly felt that the burqa should be allowed, as
Muslims are a minority in Australia, this is very likely to be unrepresentative of the nation as a
whole. While the survey does explain that ‘Analysis by men and women shows virtually no gender
difference’, this does not specify whether there was a representative number of men and women
included in the 434 electors. Alongside age, we also do not know location, ethnicity, all of which are
factors which would further influence the accuracy of this poll.
RESEARCH METHOD:
The Measurement Instrument: The report did specify that this was an SMS poll. This is important as
it meant that there was no face-to-face questioning, meaning it may have been easier for bigoted or
racist opinions to be nonchalantly sent in. Furthermore, it did require the electors to pay for an SMS,
which may be representative of those who felt strongly about the issue.
Terms and Questions: The question, “Should women be allowed to wear a burqa when giving
evidence in court?” is not overtly loaded and does not lead the elector for or against in any obvious
manner. However, the question does force an individual to fall on either side of the fence in regards
to Muslims, which is controversial. The main question of this poll was not the initial question – only
those who said ‘yes’ to the question of “Should women be allowed to wear a burqa in public?” were
asked the follow up question, which was the actual study. This limits the integrity of the poll.
CONCLUSION:
The headline “Today’s special Morgan Poll finds: 81% of Australian electors do not believe women
should be allowed to wear a burka when giving evidence in court”, is fairly accurate to the statistics
inside the report, and it is somewhat tempered language compared to what could have been
written. As this question of the poll was only a subsection of a previous section, the sample size was
even smaller than is initially stated. Due to this questioning line and sample size, the claim made by
the headline is not sufficiently proven.


Andrew Fischer 43668720
Other Problems:
If this poll were to truly represent Australia’s view of the burqa and whether it should be allowed in
court, that question should have been asked upfront, and furthermore, it should have been done on
a much broader scale, possibly with the use of an alternate means of selection in order to get an
accurate cross-section of society.
Part V: Recommendation Briefing on “Ban the Burqa”
Context/Summary:
In their political campaign, the racially prejudiced Advance Australia Party has issued an argument as
to why the burqa should be banned. The public have responded and there has been a sharp increase
in racially motivated attacks in the area of the Party. In response to this, Federal Member of
Parliament Claire Reznik is issuing an analysis of Advance Australia’s claims, and a counter-argument.
Responding to the Pickles Argument:
 Ms Reznik should take note of the emotionally charged language used by Mr Harper. His
references to burqa-wearers as criminals or menaces need to be addressed. She should
draw on the traditional history of the burqa, and how it is normally worn.
 As shown in accompanying reports, Mr Harper maintains that there are only two options in
this issue – ban the burqa or let Muslims take over. Ms Reznik should focus on this false
dilemma and explain that it is not the case, and that there are far fewer tangible harms for
letting the burqa be worn by women. Further, she should examine Advance Australia’s
fallacy of equivocation in understanding both
o Equality for women, and
o Diversity and its place in Australian culture.
 Furthermore, Ms Reznik should point out the inaccuracy of the use of statistical evidence in
Advance Australia’s press release, pointing out that the statistic relates to the question of
wearing the burqa in court. She should also point out the non-representative nature of the
poll due to its small sample size.
 Finally, Ms Reznik should explain other feasible options where a compromise could be met,
if she is unable to prove his claims wrong altogether. She could, for example, draw on the
precedent of France, and raise discussion over the wearing of it in schools or otherwise. This
would be as a last resort, however, as there are numerous problems with the Advance
Australia press release, and she need not resort to a compromise.
Positive Response
 In providing a statement which can bring greater focus to the Government’s position on the
issue of the burqa, Ms Reznik should mention:
o The nature of the Muslim population in Australia, giving particular reference to the
statistics of Muslims born in the country, English-Speaking Muslims and the Muslim
representation in the Australian population;
o Diversity in Australia and our history of acceptance of other cultures; and
o Statistics regarding the nature of crime in relation to the burqa.