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Further comments on the essay

Areas in which the essay could have been improved:

  1. Research - Could have had more references to other primary sources such as cases. Netherlands description could have been a little more comprehensive.
  2. Arguments - In good favour, but does not sufficiently acknowledge and deal with competing arguments.
  3. Structure - Clear and logical, but needs better linkages between different parts. For example, there is a need for an introductory sentence to describe the relevance of the Dutch position.
  4. Expression - Minor problems as indicated.

The main strengths of this essay

  • Begins by dealing directly with the issues raised (i.e., the double-effect doctrine), and makes it clear what position the author is going to take.
  • Makes its points clearly and unambiguously, with a strong sense of the 'author's voice'.
  • Provides a clear and accurate overview of the current legal position in Victoria and the Netherlands.
  • Analytical rather than merely descriptive.
  • Makes effective use of examples.
  • Demonstrates a good breadth of research.
  • Style is appropriate for formal - but modern - legal writing. It is neither too chatty and informal (e.g. it does not use contractions such as won't, or slang) nor too archaic or stilted (e.g. it does not use old-fashioned words such as hereinafter, or we instead of I). Also limits use of the first person (e.g. "This is a flawed notion" rather than "I think this is a flawed notion").
  • Logical structure
  • Complies substantially with the Law Faculty's style guide.

The importance of critical thinking in this essay

It is often in dealing with the counter-arguments that, to some extent, the research and the analysis go hand in hand. So, if someone has done reasonably broad research, you would expect them to have found a number of the articles on the topic, and if they have they will have been exposed to a range of the arguments.

My expectation then would be that they would decide which ones they would deal with, and what approach they would take. However, they would have to keep in mind that there are those other arguments. Simply to argue strongly from one approach and to ignore quite obvious rebuttals is incomplete.

In an area like euthanasia where there has been a massive amount written, you would only have to find two or three articles, and you would have found most of the key arguments for and against. A good lawyer argues, and it's the same when you're advising a client. You don't say these are the arguments in your favour, and neglect to advise the client of the arguments that go against them. You would need to cover all positions on the issues and then say which position you think prevails.

It's the same when you're arguing from a policy analysis. You might say there are some really good reasons why the law needs reform, and so present the reasons, and refer to the different people presenting the various arguments before bringing in your own evaluation. For instance, you might state one person's position, but then state that, on the other hand, people might argue that this would create a negative effect; although the risk isn't very serious, given the evidence coming from the Netherlands - or something like that. So you would deal with the counter-arguments.

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