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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.
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
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
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
v. We must either defeat communism or be defeated by it. To be
defeated by communism is unthinkable. Therefore, we must
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
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.