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Select three of the scenarios in the Applications list (a.-y.) below 

 

 

Apply the following in 350 to 500 words for each scenario:

 

 

  • Evaluate each argument, using the 4-step process described below regarding soundness of reasoning (truth and validity).

 

  • Explain your assessment and add alternative argumentation where necessary.

 

Format your paper consistent with APA guidelines.

APPLICATIONS

12.1 Evaluate the three arguments presented in the section of this chapter

entitled “Recognizing Complex Arguments”—that is, the arguments

about media influence on young people, reporting income for tax

purposes, and homosexuals in education. Decide whether each argument

is sound, and explain your judgment.

12.2 Check each of the following arguments to be sure that it contains no

hidden premises and, if it is a complex argument, that all parts are

expressed. Revise each, as necessary, to make the expression complete.

Then evaluate the argument and decide whether it is sound.

Explain your judgment.

a. Having great wealth is a worthy goal because it is difficult to

attain and many famous people have pursued it.

b. Low grades on a college transcript are a handicap in the job

market, so teachers who grade harshly are doing students a

disservice.

c. The Bible can’t be relevant to today’s problems; it was written

many centuries ago and is filled with archaic phrasing.

d. It is dishonest to pretend to have knowledge one does not have,

 

so plagiarism is more virtue than vice.

e. The credit card habit promotes careless spending, particularly

among young people. Therefore, credit card companies should

not be permitted to issue credit cards to anyone under age 21.

f. No one who ever attended this college achieved distinction after

graduation. Marvin attends this college. Therefore, Marvin will

not achieve distinction after graduation.

g. Drug dealing should not be a crime because it does not directly

harm others or force them to harm themselves.

h. A mature person is self-directing, so parents who make all their

children’s decisions for them are doing their offspring a disservice.

i. There’s no point in attending Professor Drone’s class; all he does

is lecture in a boring monotone.

j. Power must be evil because it can corrupt people.

k. If the theory of evolution is true, as scientific evidence overwhelmingly

suggests, a human being is nothing more than an ape.

l. Rock musicians are contributing to the decline of language by

singing in a slurred, mumbling manner.

m. If emphasis on error paralyzes effort, this college is paying

my English professor to make it impossible for me to learn

English.

n. Nuclear power is a threat to world peace. Nuclear energy

stations generate nuclear power. So nuclear energy stations are a

threat to world peace.

o. Lew Fairman is the best candidate for governor because he is in

favor of the death penalty.

p. All religious authorities are concerned about the dangers of

nuclear war. All politicians are concerned about the dangers of

nuclear war. Therefore, all politicians are religious authorities.

q. The government should undertake a comprehensive censorship

program because censorship eliminates undesirable books and

films from the market.

r. If the Social Security system is further weakened, the elderly will

have to fear poverty. Therefore, if the Social Security system is

not further weakened, the elderly will not have to fear poverty.

s. Challenging other people’s opinions is a sign of intolerance, so

debating courses have no place on a college campus.

t. It’s ridiculous to think that there will be fewer deaths if we ban

handguns. Handguns don’t kill people; people kill people.

u. The antiabortionists say that the fetus is human, but they have

not proved it. Therefore, they have no reasonable basis for

opposing abortion.

v. We must either defeat communism or be defeated by it. To be

defeated by communism is unthinkable. Therefore, we must

 

defeat communism.

STEPS IN EVALUATING AN ARGUMENT

The following four steps are an efficient way to apply what you learned in this

chapter—in other words, to evaluate your argument and overcome any errors in

 

validity or truth that it may contain.

State your argument fully, as clearly as you can. Be sure to identify any

hidden premises and, if the argument is complex, to express all parts of it.

2. Examine each part of your argument for errors affecting truth. (To be sure

your examination is not perfunctory, play devil’s advocate and challenge

the argument, asking pointed questions about it, taking nothing for granted.)

Note any instances of either/or thinking, avoiding the issue, overgeneralizing,

oversimplifying, double standard, shifting the burden of proof, or

irrational appeal. In addition, check to be sure that the argument reflects

the evidence found in your investigation (see Chapter 8) and is relevant

to the pro and con arguments and scenarios you produced earlier (see

Chapter 9).

3. Examine your argument for validity errors; that is, consider the reasoning

that links conclusions to premises. Determine whether your conclusion is

legitimate or illegitimate.

4. If you find one or more errors, revise your argument to eliminate them. The

changes you will have to make in your argument will depend on the kinds

of errors you find. Sometimes, only minor revision is called for—the adding

of a simple qualification, for example, or the substitution of a rational

appeal for an irrational one. Occasionally, however, the change required

is more dramatic. You may, for example, find your argument so flawed

that the only appropriate action is to abandon it altogether and embrace a

different argument. On those occasions, you may be tempted to pretend

your argument is sound and hope no one will notice the errors. Resist that

hope. It is foolish as well as dishonest to invest time in refining a view that

you know is unsound.

 

 

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