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Assignment 1: Discussion—Prescriptive and Descriptive Arguments


Descriptions “describe”—they depict the “what is” of a statement. Prescriptions “prescribe”—they express the “what ought to be” of a statement. When approaching controversial or emotionally charged subjects, critical thinkers are mindful of the different roles that facts and values play in people’s judgments and the different roles they play in different kinds of judgments. This assignment will help deepen your understanding of those distinctions.


To see how an issue can be approached using a descriptive or prescriptive argument, review these examples. Descriptive and prescriptive arguments are considered in the lectures for Module 3.


Based on your understanding of descriptive and prescriptive arguments, respond to the following:


  • Identify a topic of interest for which arguments of different perspectives can be created.
  • Construct original arguments about this topic similar to the examples—one descriptive and one prescriptive.


Support your arguments with scholarly references. Be sure to provide citations for your sources as well as citations for a premise you state to be a fact.

Issue: Controlling Type 2 Diabetes 
Descriptive Argument: Type 2 diabetes occurs due to a combination of lifestyle and genetic factors. Research has shown a number of lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise to be important in the development and advancement of type 2 diabetes. In particular, obesity has been shown to contribute to over 50 percent of type 2 diabetes cases (Risérus, Willett, & Hu, 2009).
Therefore, for persons at risk for developing type 2 diabetes, maintaining a healthy body mass index (BMI) may help delay or prevent the onset of the disease (Risérus, Willett, & Hu, 2009). 
Prescriptive Argument: People suffering from type 2 diabetes are not able to handle sugary or high-fat foods, due to a metabolic disorder. If type 2 diabetics indulge in high-sugar diets, it tends to lead to compromised health, increased medical expenses, and loss of productivity due to absenteeism from work. People that do not take proper care of themselves physically do not deserve to have related medical expenses subsidized by medical insurance (Risérus, Willett, & Hu, 2009). 
Therefore type 2 diabetics who do not practice strict dietary restrictions and eliminate refined sugars and high-fat foods from their diets are grossly irresponsible, and do not deserve to have medical insurance coverage for their diabetes-related illnesses (Risérus, Willett, & Hu, 2009). 

Risérus, U., Willett, W. C., & Hu, F. B. (2009). Dietary fats and prevention of type 2 diabetes. National Institutes of Health, 48(1), 44–51. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2654180/?tool=pmcentrez

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