Lesson_3_What_is_An_Argument - Lesson 3 : Arguments I. What...

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Unformatted text preview: Lesson 3 : Arguments I. What is an Argument? An argument is a claim defended with reasons. More precisely, a passage is an argument if and only if: (a) it is a group of two or more statements (b) one of those statements (the conclusion) is claimed or intended to be supported by the other(s) (the premises). II. Identifying Statements Statements are sentences that it makes sense to regard as being either true or false. Put otherwise, a statement is a sentence that makes good grammatical sense when it is prefaced with the words "It is true that…" or "It is false that…" Examples of Statements I wish Ashley would call. Paris is the capital of France. I'm shocked! Each of these sentences is a statement, because each makes an assertion that is either true or false. Not all sentences are statements, i.e., sentences that assert that something is true or false. 1. 3. 4. 5. 2. Close the door! (command) How old are you? ? (question) Suffering succotash! (exclamation) Hi! (greeting) Let's go to the ball game tonight. (proposal) None of these are statements, because none can sensibly be preceded by the phrases "It is true that…" or "It is false that…" III. Identifying Premises and Conclusions 1. 2. 3. The age of majority in the US is 18 Jen is American and is under eighteen­years­old. Therefore, Jen is considered a minor Arguments are composed of one or more premises and a conclusion. Premises are statements offered as reasons for accepting another statement. A conclusion is a statement supported by reasons. In this example, statements 1 and 2 are premises, and statement 3 is the conclusion. Distinguishing premises from conclusions is a skill that requires both practice and close attention to the nuances of language. Here are some tips that will help you separate premises from conclusions: 1. Look for premise indicators--words like because, since, for, and given that--that provide clues when premises are being offered. 1. Look for conclusion indicators--words like therefore, thus, hence, and so--that provide clues when conclusion indicators are being offered. 3. If the passage contains no indicator words, try these two strategies: a. Ask yourself, "What claim is the writer or speaker trying to prove?" That claim will be the conclusion. b. Try putting the word "therefore" before each of the statements in turn. The statement it fits best will be the conclusion. 1. Long-haired cats shed all over the house 2. Long-haired cats have a lot of fleas 3. You should not get a long haired cat Identify the premise(s) and conclusion in this argument. P¹Long­haired cats shed all over the house P²Long­haired cats have a lot of fleas CYou should not get a long haired cat Premise 1: Long-haired cats shed all over the house Premise 2: Long-haired cats have a lot of fleas Conclusion: You should not get a long haired cat Study hard. Otherwise, you will fail your exams Identify the premise(s) and conclusion in this argument. Study hard. Otherwise, you will fail your exams Premise: If you don't study hard, you will fail your exams Conclusion: You ought to study hard The word otherwise often functions--as it does here--as premise indicator. Notice that both the premise and the conclusion have been rephrased slightly. The premise has been rephrased in order to make it a complete sentence. The conclusion has been restated in order to make clear that it is intended as a statement rather than as a command. Research universities also must aggressively support teaching. After all, a significant percentage of their students are undergraduates, and such institutions are clearly obligated to provide thema quality education. Ernest L. Boyer, Scholarship Reconsidered, 1990) Identify the premise(s) and conclusion of this argument. • Swimming after eating is dangerous. You should not do things that are dangerous. Therefore, you should not swim directly after eating." Premise 1:Swimming after eating is dangerous. Premise 2:. You should not do things that are dangerous. Conclusion: Therefore, you should not swim directly after eating." Notice the phrase “therefore" This phrase is often used as a premise indicator. The Jews and Arabs have been fighting for centuries and I seriously doubt this will ever be resolved. The United States should get out of this never­ending fight, or the next terrorist bomb might be in Washington­­and it just might be nuclear. (John G. Ferguson III, Letter to the Editor, USA Today, February 12, 2001) Identify the premise(s) and conclusion in this argument. The Jews and Arabs have been fighting for centuries and I seriously doubt this will ever be resolved. The United States should get out of this never­ending fight, or the next terrorist bomb might be in Washington­­and it just might be nuclear. (John G. Ferguson III, Letter to the Editor, USA Today, February 12, 2001) Premise 1: The Jews and Arabs have been fighting for centuries. Premise 2: There is serious doubt this will ever be resolved. Premise 3: If the United States does not get out of this never­ending fight, the next terrorist bomb might be in Washington­­and it might be nuclear. Conclusion: The United States should get out of the never­ending fight between the Jews and the Arabs. In this passage, there are no indicator words to assist us, however the form of the last sentence ("X should do Y, or else Z will happen") is a common conclusion­premise pattern. No one who observes people can pretend that in fact they always seek anything like their own long­ run advantage. If this were the case only stupidity could explain how frequently and obviously they act contrary to their own long­run advantage. People are not that stupid! (Charles Hartshorne and Creighton Peden, Whitehead's View of Reality, 1981) Identify the premise(s) and conclusion in this argument. No one who observes people can pretend that in fact they always seek anything like their own long­ run advantage. If this were the case only stupidity could explain how frequently and obviously they act contrary to their own long­run advantage. People are not that stupid! (Charles Hartshorne and Creighton Peden, Whitehead's View of Reality, 1981) Premise 1: If people always seek anything like their own long­run advantage, then only stupidity could explain how frequently and obviously they act contrary to their own long­run advantage. Premise 2: People are not that stupid. Conclusion: No one who observes people can pretend that in fact they always seek anything like their own long­run advantage. Here again there are no standard indicator words to assist us. However, by sticking "therefore" in front of each of the three sentences in turn, we can see that only the first sentence makes sense as the conclusion. Many people yearn for a return to "religiousness" to education, so they press for laws permitting vocal prayer in the classroom. But I cannot join them. Vocal prayer in class dictates a consensus that does not exist in our pluralistic society, and any prayer that is so vaguely worded that it sounds agreeable to all is, by my limits, no prayer at all. (Parker J. Palmer, To Know As We Are Known: Education as a Spiritual Journey, 1993) Identify the premise(s) and conclusion of this argument. and the conclusion last. Each line should be a single statement written as a complete sentence. Feel free to modify the sentences as you deem necessary, without changing their basic meaning. (after all you want to be restating this argument, not writing a new one!) Label the premise(s) P¹, P², P³, etc. and the conclusion C. Leave out any indicator words and any fluff (i.e., sentences which are neither the conclusion nor a premise). Since the housing market is depressed and interest rates are low, it's a good time to buy a home. China is guilty of extreme human rights abuses. Further, they refuse to implement democratic reforms. Thus, the U.S. should refuse to deal with the present Chinese government. Scientific discoveries are continually debunking religious myths. Further, science provides the only hope for solving the many problems faced by humankind. Hence, science provides a more accurate view of human life than does religion. 7. Jesse is one year old. Most one­year­olds can walk. It follows that Jesse can walk. 8. I deserve a raise. I'm very good at my job. ...
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This note was uploaded on 11/13/2010 for the course BA BA12345 taught by Professor Harry during the Spring '10 term at University of Economics and Technology.

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