The major conclusion of the part of Martin Luther King’s speech touching upon the issue of Ho Chi Min’s land reform is that this reform was benevolent for the peasants, and can be categorized as “one of the most important needs in their lives” (King “A Time to Break Silence”). The assessment of the reliability of this assertion requires a thorough analysis of the deductive process as well as the provided evidence and fallacies in it if any.
The reasoning used by King for evaluating the effects of Ho Chi Min’s land reform is deductive because it moves from general to specific. King’s major premise is that all peasants are interested in land. The minor premise is that Ho Chi Min’s reform was aimed at the redistribution of the land among the peasants.
The conclusion which King forces from these premises is that Ho Chi Min’s land reform was beneficial for the people of Vietnam. Still, this conclusion cannot be regarded as a valid one because there are particular fallacies in the deductive reasoning which provides only partial support for the conclusion.
The main sources of the invalid deductive conclusion include Argumentum ad Hominem, all or nothing and cultural fallacies. King criticizes Diem, Chi Min’s opponent, defining him as one of the most vicious modern dictators, thus, attacking him as an individual rather than as a political figure, without describing any Diem’s significant actions and their consequences for the nation.
The all or nothing fallacy of King’s deductive reasoning is based upon the opposition of the two political leaders and assuming that if one of them is bad, another is supposed to be good and his reforms are hypothesized to be benevolent for the population.
The two above-mentioned fallacies are complimented with the cultural error, the presentation of the information from the culturally-limited perspective, assuming that the US views and system of beliefs are superior to Vietnamese inner policies. This assumption enables the author of the speech to make judgments as to the benefits and the primer needs of Vietnamese people in general and peasants in particular.
In general, King’s reasoning lacks evidence because it consists of the speaker’s personal judgments which are not supported with the historically accurate details and relevant information. The evaluation of the land reform without describing it in details is inadmissible. Thus, King categorizes the Vietnamese dictators as bad and good, using his personal opinion and not supporting his assumptions with any weighty arguments.
The lack of information on the character, details and consequences of Chi Min’s reform is the major drawback of King’s argumentation. “Reliability is the degree of confidence that is placed in the truth of a proposition” (Swensson “Logic and the Essay”). Taking into account the described fallacies of the argumentation along with the lack of evidence, the reliability of King’s proposition concerning the benevolence of the land reform is rather low.
Though the major premise of the deductive reasoning is true and generalization concerning land as one of the primer interests of peasants is relevant, the minor premise concerning the redistribution of land by Chi Min without specifying the terms of the reform is insufficient for supporting the proposition concerning the benefits of this reform for the population.
The analysis of the deductive process, premises, and the evidence used by King in his speech A Time to Break Silence shows that they were insufficient for supporting the conclusion concerning the benevolence of Chi Min’s land reform because of the fallacies in the reasoning as well as the lack of evidence.
King, Martin Luther. “A Time to Break Silence”. Deanza College Website. n.d. Web. 10 December 2010.
Swensson, John. “Logic and the Essay”. Deanza College Website. n.d. Web. 10 December 2010.