lrp-slideshow-argument_structure

lrp-slideshow-argument_structure - Communica)on is a...

Info iconThis preview shows page 1. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

Unformatted text preview: Communica)on is a complicated thing, perhaps especially when used to persuade. The complica)ons are various, and o:en )ed appreciably to the persuader's ar)stry, with discernible structure that is equally appreciable, in allowing us to evaluate their a>empts as either worthy or unworthy of persuading us ul)mately. John Dewey called this "effec)ve thinking," the business of "ac)ve, persistent, and careful considera)on of a belief or supposed form of knowledge in the light of the ground which support it and the further conclusions to which it tends" (How We Think). The fundamental building blocks of such an enterprise are what we call inferences. "What is important" in effec)ve thinking, according to Dewey, is that "every inference shall be a tested inference ... that we shall discriminate between beliefs that rest upon tested evidence and those that do not, and shall be accordingly on our guard as to the kind and degree of assent yielded." An inference in this sense, the "res)ng" involved in our "beliefs ... rest[ing] on ... evidence," is the feeling, if you will, of being compelled, to one degree of another, to accept a conclusion on the basis of a reason or set of reasons offered in support. It's a kind of glue, to use another sort of metaphor, that binds, more or else reliably, reasons and the conclusions they are intended to produce. Iden)fying an argument's inferences, as comprehensively and precisely as possible, is key to effec)ve thinking. Iden)fying conclusions and corresponding reasons is how we do so. A. Conclusion, reason, and inference iden7fica7on The iden)fica)on of such reasons and conclusions is a fundamental part of effec)ve thinking, the place we reasonably begin. Consider the following rela)vely simple examples. 1. That test was unfair. I studied for days, reading the material four )mes, underlining important details, and then studying them. A:er doing all this, I should have got a good grade. That test was unfair. 2. We should bring most of our troops home from Europe. The threat from Russia has gone now that the Evil Empire has collapsed; the Europeans can defend themselves now that the threat to their security is less and they are so rich; and we must reduce our federal deficit fast if our economy is not to collapse. A>empts to persuade are not o:en so simple, but it's a place to begin. We begin by iden)fying the main conclusion -- the ul)mate point of a passage, that is, the convic)on that its author is a>emp)ng to convince us to share. Once we do so, even if only provisionally, we move to iden)fy the reason or reasons that suggest the main conclusion, and then the reason or reasons that may suggest each of them. What are the main conclusions in these cases? Is either a case which leads us to need to choose between dis)nct "candidates" for the passage in ques)on's main conclusion? In working to iden)fy comprehensively all the reasons and conclusions that make up a par)cular argument, and to associate them appropriately in such a way to iden)fy comprehensively the argument's various inferences, we usefully rely, at least in part, on certain bits of speech or text that indicate the likely presence of a reason or a conclusion. We imagine that among "conclusion indicators" we find the following conven)onal ones ... We imagine that among "reason indicators" we find the following conven)onal ones ... We imagine that among "conclusion indicators" we find the following conven)onal ones: "therefore," "thus," "so," "hence," "consequently," "which shows/proves/establishes/ demonstrates/etc. that," "which jus)fies the belief/view/perspec)ve/etc. that," "I/we/ one conclude(s) that," "from which we can infer/deduce/see/etc. that," "it follows that," "demonstates that," "... must ...," "... should ...," and so on. We imagine that among "reason indicators" we find the following conven)onal ones: "because ...," "since ...," "for ...," "it follows from the fact that ...," "the reason is ...," "the reasons are ...," "firstly ...," "secondly ...," "thirdly ...," "... moreover ...," "in as much as ...," "if ... then ...," and so on. These are only some of the most conven)onal examples, and so we need to beware ... ... of missing reasons and conclusions in the absence of conven)onal or any indicators ... ... of reason and conclusion indicators that are unconven)onal ... "we hope," for example ... of reason or conclusion indicators corresponding at )mes to conclusions and reasons respec)vely instead -- for example, "if ... then ...." is a conven)onal reason indicator, which can nevertheless be associated with a conclusion in hypothe)cal form. Returning to the above arguments ... 1. That test was unfair. I studied for days, reading the material four )mes, underlining important details, and then studying them. A:er doing all this, I should have got a good grade. That test was unfair. 2. We should bring most of our troops home from Europe. The threat from Russia has gone now that the Evil Empire has collapsed; the Europeans can defend themselves now that the threat to their security is less and they are so rich; and we must reduce our federal deficit fast if our economy is not to collapse. ... we get some help in iden)fying their main conclusions from the search for the indicators, which at this point we simply underline or otherwise iden)fy as comprehensively as we can. In each case, what are the conven)onal indicators? In the arguments in ques)on, the conven)onal indicators appear to include that following. 1. That test was unfair. I studied for days, reading the material four )mes, underlining important details, and then studying them. A:er doing all this, I should have got a good grade. That test was unfair. 2. We should bring most of our troops home from Europe. The threat from Russia has gone now that the Evil Empire has collapsed; the Europeans can defend themselves now that the threat to their security is less and they are so rich; and we must reduce our federal deficit fast if our economy is not to collapse. Having iden)fied these indicators, we move to the step we iden)fied above, which is iden)fying the main conclusion -- the ul)mate point of a passage, that is, the convic)on that the persuader is a>emp)ng with the passage in ques)on, spoken or wri>en, to convince us to share as a result of hearing or reading it. Once we iden)fy the main conclusion -- albeit provisionally, because the choice will have to con)nue to work as the rest of the argument's structure is made apparent -- we move to iden)fy the reason or reasons that suggest the main conclusion. What are the main conclusions in these cases? Is either a case which leads us to need to choose between dis)nct candidates for the passage in ques)on's main conclusion? If so, what are the candidate conclusions? In each case, there appear to be candidate main conclusions from which we must choose, however obviously: 1. [c?: That test was unfair]. I studied for days, reading the material four )mes, underlining important details and then studying them. A:er doing all this [c?: I should have got a good grade]. [c: That test was unfair]. 2. [c: We should bring most of our troops home from Europe]. The threat from Russia has gone now that the Evil Empire has collapsed; the Europeans can defend themselves now that the threat to their security is less and they are so rich; and [c?: we must reduce our federal deficit fast if our economy is not to collapse]. What's the best choice of main conclusion in each case? In these cases, the main conclusions appear to be the following. 1. [c: That test was unfair]. I studied for days, reading the material four )mes, underlining important details and then studying them. A:er doing all this I should have got a good grade. [c: That test was unfair]. 2. [c: We should bring most of our troops home from Europe]. The threat from Russia has gone now that the Evil Empire has collapsed; the Europeans can defend themselves now that the threat to their security is less and they are so rich; and we must reduce our federal deficit fast if our economy is not to collapse. In the first case we've ignored the apparent conclusion indicator ("a:er doing all this" and "should"). In the second, we've ignored one of two. Indicators are not fool-proof, that is, but indica)ve only of the possibility of a reason or conclusion respec)vely. There's a useful strategy here -- the so-called therefore test. Rela)ve to a candidate conclusion, that is, we ask how it may "sound," as it were, to precede it with a "therefore" Going back to the first of the first of the above passages, we may be confident that the overall conclusion is "that test was unfair," but worry s)ll about the indicators we've ignored ("a:er doing all this" and "should"). The therefore test can help us to sort out which one of these is the more likely overall conclusion. Which one of the following "sounds be>er," as it were. I studied for days, reading the material four )mes, underlining important details and then studying them. A:er doing all this I should have got a good grade. [Therefore] That test was unfair. or I studied for days, reading the material four )mes, underlining important details and then studying them. That test was unfair. [Therefore] A:er doing all this I should have got a good grade. It seems that the first of these sounds be=er, leading to the plausible sense that " That test was unfair" is the argument's main conclusion. What about the second passage: We should bring most of our troops home from Europe. The threat from Russia has gone now that the Evil Empire has collapsed; the Europeans can defend themselves now that the threat to their security is less and they are so rich; and we must reduce our federal deficit fast if our economy is not to collapse. Here the worry is similar -- the presence of two conclusion indicators and so ostensibly two candidate main conclusions. In the case of the second example above, which of the following sounds be>er? We should bring most of our troops home from Europe. The threat from Russia has gone now that the Evil Empire has collapsed; the Europeans can defend themselves now that the threat to their security is less and they are so rich; and [therefore] we must reduce our federal deficit fast if our economy is not to collapse. or The threat from Russia has gone now that the Evil Empire has collapsed; the Europeans can defend themselves now that the threat to their security is less and they are so rich; and we must reduce our federal deficit fast if our economy is not to collapse. [Therefore] We should bring most of our troops home from Europe. It seems that the second of these sounds be=er, leading to the plausible sense that "We should bring the troops home from Europe" is the overall conclusion to this argument, again the basic point the author wants us to "take away" ul)mately. What are the indicators here, and of what sort are they? During the lacrosse game s/he commi>ed a serious foul, so s/he deserved to be benched. The waiter was in the kitchen. In that case he couldn't have shot the diner, who was in the main. Hence the waiter couldn't have done it! The Green movement is mistaken in thinking that we should recycle materials like paper and glass because paper comes from trees, and easily renewable resource, and glass is made from sand, which is plen)ful and cheap. Furthermore, in some ci)es in the US recycling schemes have been abandoned because they are to expensive. We need to make rail travel more a>rac)ve to travelers. There are so many cars on the road that the environment and human safety are under threat. Rail travel should be made cheaper. Everyone wants the road to be less crowded, but they s)ll want the convenience of being able to travel by road themselves. People will not abandon the car in favor of the train without some new incen)ve. The indicators appear to be the following. During the lacrosse game s/he commi>ed a serious foul, so s/he deserved to be benched. The waiter was in the kitchen. In that case he couldn't have shot the diner, who was in the dining room. Hence the waiter couldn't have done it! The Green movement is mistaken in thinking that we should recycle materials like paper and glass because paper comes from trees, and easily renewable resource, and glass is made from sand, which is plen)ful and cheap. Furthermore, in some ci)es in the US recycling schemes have been abandoned because they are to expensive. We need to make rail travel more a>rac)ve to travelers. There are so many cars on the road that the environment and human safety are under threat. Rail travel should be made cheaper. Everyone wants the road to be less crowded, but they s)ll want the convenience of being able to travel by road themselves. People will not abandon the car in favor of the train without some new incen)ve. The first three passages' conclusions are easily iden)fy, by iden)fying the conclusion indicators involved. The fourth, however, is a bit more problema)c. Why? The "rail travel" passage appears to be two explicit conclusion indicators, which we underline as follows. We need to make rail travel more a>rac)ve to travelers. There are so many cars on the road that the environment and human safety are under threat. Rail travel should be made cheaper. Everyone wants the road to be less crowded, but they s)ll want the convenience of being able to travel by road themselves. People will not abandon the car in favor of the train without some new incen)ve. Other things being equal, then, we have two corresponding candidate main conclusions: [c?: We need to make rail travel more a>rac)ve to travelers.] There are so many cars on the road that the environment and human safety are under threat. [c?: Rail travel should be made cheaper.] Everyone wants the road to be less crowded, but they s)ll want the convenience of being able to travel by road themselves. People will not abandon the car in favor of the train without some new incen)ve. They are sufficiently different to appear not to be reitera)ons of the same conclusion, and so one of them must be the main conclusion, but which one is it? We can use the "therefore test" to help us to determine one to be the main and the other to be an, if not the intermediary conclusion. Which one of the following, that is, sounds be=er to the ear? We need to make rail travel more a>rac)ve to travelers ... [therefore] ... rail travel should be made cheaper or Rail travel should be made cheaper ... [therefore] ... we need to make rail travel more a>rac)ve to travelers The former, it seems, sounds be=er ... and so we have the following representa)on instead of the above one We need to make rail travel more a>rac)ve to travelers. There are so many cars on the road that the environment and human safety are under threat. [c: Rail travel should be made cheaper]. Everyone wants the road to be less crowded, but they s)ll want the convenience of being able to travel by road themselves. People will not abandon the car in favor of the train without some new incen)ve. How, then, does the rest of the text support the intermediate conclusion in suppor)ng the main one? We ask ourselves, what most immediately suggests the main conclusion, "rail travel should be made cheaper"? Using the what remains of the text as our source, there are apparently four candidates it seems. Taking them in their exis)ng order, we have the following then: "we need to make rail travel more a>rac)ve to travelers," "there are so many cars on the road that the environment and human safety are under threat," "everyone wants the road to be less crowded, but they s)ll want the convenience of being able to travel by road themselves," and "people will not abandon the car in favor of the train without some new incen)ve." In effect, on the basis of having iden)fied c as "rail travel should be made cheaper," we can imagine asking why is it being suggested that we should we make rail travel cheaper? Of the available proposi)ons, the four above, we seem most likely to answer that it must be because, as I'm being told, we need to make rail travel more a=rac7ve to travelers, and so that the reason most immediately sugges)ng c is "we need to make rail travel more a>rac)ve to travelers. This we may represent as follows: [r1: We need to make rail travel more a>rac)ve to travelers]. There are so many cars on the road that the environment and human safety are under threat. [c: Rail travel should be made cheaper.] Everyone wants the road to be less crowded, but they s)ll want the convenience of being able to travel by road themselves. People will not abandon the car in favor of the train without some new incen)ve. or as r1 -> c If this is all there is to the argument, then it seems not terribly convincing, or not as convincing if we can find addi)onal support of c, and since we've been offered addi)onal material that we've not used yet, there seems to be an opportunity to find indeed addi)onal support for c. The basic ques)on, assuming we're right in taking c to be the main conclusion, and in taking r1 to suggest it most immediately, is this: what is the most plausible way to understand the organiza)on of what's le: for us to use -- the proposi)ons that "there are so many cars on the road that the environment and human safety are under threat," that "everyone wants the road to be less crowded, but they s)ll want the convenience of being able to travel by road themselves," and that "people will not abandon the car in favor of the train without some new incen)ve" -- in support of c, given that it's appears to be suggested most immediately by r1. We can move in either of two direc)ons, or perhaps in some sense both at once. On the one hand, we can ask whether any of the remaining material -- again, the proposi)ons that "there are so many cars on the road that the environment and human safety are under threat," that "everyone wants the road to be less crowded, but they s)ll want the convenience of being able to travel by road themselves," and that "people will not abandon the car in favor of the train without some new incen)ve" -- suggest c as r1 does. In the same spirit as above, that is, we can imagine ourselves asking why is it being suggested to us that we should we make rail travel cheaper, in addi7on to needing to make rail travel more a=rac7ve to traveler? Does it make sense, does it "sound right," to answer with one of the above three proposi)ons? On the other hand, we can to ask whether r1 is a "basic reason" sugges)ng c. If so, it is suggested by no other reasons. If not, if it is a non-basic reasons, there are reasons that suggest it, just as it suggests c. Again as above, we can imagine ourselves asking, in the same spirit, why is it being suggested to us that we need to make rail travel more a=rac7ve to travelers, this being, as it seems is also being suggest to us, why we need to make it cheaper? Again, does it make sense, does it "sound right," to answer with one of the above three proposi)ons? We can also pursue these two strategies more or less simultaneously, asking of each of the three remaining proposi)ons, with the help of the therefore test perhaps, whether it makes more sense, sounds be>er, as a reason sugges)ng c or a reason sugges)ng r1. In this sense, do we prefer one or the other of the following? [r2: There are so many cars on the road that the environment and human safety are under threat] therefore [c: rail travel should be made cheaper.] [r2: There are so many cars on the road that the environment and human safety are under threat] therefore [r1: we need to make rail travel more a>rac)ve to travelers.] Moving to the second remaining proposi)on, which of the following sounds be=er? [r3: Everyone wants the road to be less crowded, but they s)ll want the convenience of being able to travel by road themselves] therefore [c: rail travel should be made cheaper.] [r3: Everyone wants the road to be less crowded, but they s)ll want the convenience of being able to travel by road themselves] therefore [r1: we need to make rail travel more a>rac)ve to travelers.] Moving to the third remaining proposi)on, which of the following makes more sense? [r4: People will not abandon the car in favor of the train without some new incen)ve] therefore [c: rail travel should be made cheaper.] [r4: People will not abandon the car in favor of the train without some new incen)ve] therefore [r1: we need to make rail travel more a>rac)ve to travelers.] What we seem not to find here is that the one of the other alterna)ve in the previous three sets of alterna)ves is obviously preferable, in the sense that one or the other sounds bad, or doesn't make sense. S)ll, it seems to be in one sense a stronger connec)on between r2, r3, and r4 and r2 than between r2, r3, and r4 and c, in the sense that the former three are all to some explicit extent or another about people -- "human safety" in r2, "everyone ... they ... themselves" in r3, "people" in r4, and "travelers" in r1 -- as opposed to the absence of such reference in c. (Of course this could be a mo)va)on to rethink the inference from r1 to c in the first place, but we have the conclusion indicators to help us to resist this.) So, using the sort of representa)on we used above. We have at the above first stage ... [r1: We need to make rail travel more a>rac)ve to travelers]. There are so many cars on the road that the environment and human safety are under threat. [c: Rail travel should be made cheaper]. Everyone wants the road to be less crowded, but they s)ll want the convenience of being able to travel by road themselves. People will not abandon the car in favor of the train without some new incen)ve. ... and then we have ... [r1/ic: We need to make rail travel more a>rac)ve to travelers]. [r2: There are so many cars on the road that the environment and human safety are under threat]. [c: Rail travel should be made cheaper]. [r3: Everyone wants the road to be less crowded, but they s)ll want the convenience of being able to travel by road themselves]. [r4: People will not abandon the car in favor of the train without some new incen)ve]. We can also rewrite the passage along the above lines, which offers another basis for comparison. The original passage, A, yields alterna)ves B and C. A. (1) We need to make rail travel more a>rac)ve to travelers. (2) There are so many cars on the road that the environment and human safety are under threat. (3) Rail travel should be made cheaper. (4) Everyone wants the road to be less crowded, but they s)ll want the convenience of being able to travel by road themselves. (5) People will not abandon the car in favor of the train without some new incen)ve. B. (1) We need to make rail travel more a>rac)ve to travelers [and] (2) there are so many cars on the road that the environment and human safety are under threat [and] (4) everyone wants the road to be less crowded, but they s)ll want the convenience of being able to travel by road themselves [and] (5) people will not abandon the car in favor of the train without some new incen)ve. [Therefore] (3) rail travel should be made cheaper. C. (2) There are so many cars on the road that the environment and human safety are under threat [and] (4) everyone wants the road to be less crowded, but they s)ll want the convenience of being able to travel by road themselves [and] (5) people will not abandon the car in favor of the train without com new incen)ve. [Therefore] (1) we need to make rail travel more a>rac)ve to travelers. [Therefore] (3) rail travel should be made cheaper. Again, B is not obviously wrong, but C seems preferable, in the way it "sounds," and because it appears to respect the apparent indicators. B. Types of inferences Inferences may be most simply a single reason sugges7ng a single conclusion: "During the game s/he commi>ed a serious foul, and so deserved to be benched," or "Global warming is an interna)onal problem. Thus, it can only be solved interna)onally," or " There is a growing number of organiza)ons which have been set up to deal with bullying; the only conceivable reason for this is that bullying is on the rise," and so on. More commonly, however, they are made up of mul7ple reasons sugges7ng of a single conclusion, as, for example, in the following passages: It must be very rare for religious people to base their faith on ra)onal considera)on of alterna)ve world views. Nearly all religious believers adopt the religion of the people among whom they live, as do, for example, Chris)ans, Hindus, and Muslims. What's more, there is very li>le serious evidence to support their beliefs about the supernatural. The Truman Doctrine was a turning point in American history for at least four reasons. First, it marked the point at which Truman used the American fear of communism both at home and abroad to convince Americans they must embark upon a cold war foreign policy. Second ... Congress was giving the president great powers to wage this cold was as he saw fit. Third, for the first )me in the postwar era, Americans massively intervened in another na)on's civil war. Finally ... Truman used the doctrine to jus)fy a gigan)c aid program to prevent a collapse of he European and American economies. (LaFeber, America, Russia and the Cold War, 1945-1996) In such examples, in which mul)ple reasons recommend a single conclusion, they may do so independently, or they may do so jointly. To see the difference, compare, for example, the above passages with a third, and ask in what way the inference to the main conclusion in the first two differs from the inference to the main conclusion in the third. It must be very rare for religious people to base their faith on ra)onal considera)on of alterna)ve world views. Nearly all religious believers adopt the religion of the people among whom they live, as do, for example, Chris)ans, Hindus, and Muslims. What's more, there is very li>le serious evidence to support their beliefs about the supernatural. The Truman Doctrine was a turning point in American history for at least four reasons. First, it marked the point at which Truman used the American fear of communism both at home and abroad to convince Americans they must embark upon a cold war foreign policy. Second ... Congress was giving the president great powers to wage this cold was as he saw fit. Third, for the first )me in the postwar era, Americans massively intervened in another na)on's civil war. Finally ... Truman used the doctrine to jus)fy a gigan)c aid program to prevent a collapse of he European and American economies. The waiter was in the kitchen when the diner was shot. If someone's in the kitchen, then they cannot see what's happening in the dining room. The diner was in the dining room when they were shot. Thus the waiter could not have shot the the diner. What we see here is that in the arguments in the first two passages the reasons offered in support of a single conclusion support it independently of one another. Each of the reasons represents, that is, a separate inference to the main conclusion. We can use the therefore test with each reason in isola)on and the result will "sound" fine. For example, using the above nota)on: [c: It must be very rare for religious people to base their faith on ra)onal considera)on of alterna)ve world views]. [r1: Nearly all religious believers adopt the religion of the people among whom they live, as do, for example, Chris)ans, Hindus, and Muslims]. [r2: What's more, there is very li>le serious evidence to support their beliefs about the supernatural]. We can add that the following are, generally speaking, equally compelling. [r1: Nearly all religious believers adopt the religion of the people among whom they live, as do, for example, Chris)ans, Hindus, and Muslims] therefore [c: It must be very rare for religious people to base their faith on ra)onal considera)on of alterna)ve world views] [r2: There is very li>le serious evidence to support th[e] beliefs [of nearly all religious believers] about the supernatural] therefore [c: It must be very rare for religious people to base their faith on ra)onal considera)on of alterna)ve world views] Similarly with the second passage, which we represent as follows. [c: The Truman Doctrine was a turning point in American history for at least four reasons]. First, [r1: it marked the point at which Truman used the American fear of communism both at home and abroad to convince Americans they must embark upon a cold war foreign policy]. Second ... [r2: Congress was giving the president great powers to wage this cold was as he saw fit]. Third, [r3: for the first )me in the postwar era, Americans massively intervened in another na)on's civil war]. Finally ... [r4: Truman used the doctrine to jus)fy a gigan)c aid program to prevent a collapse of he European and American economies]. Again, we can add that the following are, generally speaking, equally compelling. [r1: [The Truman Doctrine] marked the point at which Truman used the American fear of communism both at home and abroad to convince Americans they must embark upon a cold war foreign policy] therefore [c: The Truman Doctrine was a turning point in American history] [r2: Congress [gave President Truman] great powers to wage this cold was as he saw fit] therefore [c: The Truman Doctrine was a turning point in American history] Similarly for r3 and r4. In the case of the third passage, however, the reasons suggest the single conclusion in ques)on jointly instead. We represent the passage as such. [r1: The waiter was in the kitchen when the diner was shot]. [r2: If someone's in the kitchen, then they cannot see what's happening in the dining room]. [r3: The diner was in the dining room when they were shot]. Thus [c: the waiter could not have shot the the diner]. By contrast with the above to examples of inferences based on independent reasons, in this example of an inference based on joint reasons, we can add that the following are, generally speaking, equally uncompelling. [r1: The waiter was in the kitchen when the diner was shot] therefore [c: the waiter could not have shot the the diner] [r2: If someone's in the kitchen, then they cannot see what's happening in the dining room] therefore [c: the waiter could not have shot the the diner] [r3: The diner was in the dining room when they were shot] therefore [c: the waiter could not have shot the the diner] Beyond those to a single main conclusion, arguments may include a more complex chain- like form including at least one intermediate conclusion, as in the "rail travel" passage: (1) We need to make rail travel more a>rac)ve to travelers. (2) There are so many cars on the road that the environment and human safety are under threat. (3) Rail travel should be made cheaper. (4) Everyone wants the road to be less crowded, but they s)ll want the convenience of being able to travel by road themselves. (5) People will not abandon the car in favor of the train without some new incen)ve. Using the sort of representa)on we've been using, the structure here looks as follows. (1) [r1/ic: We need to make rail travel more a>rac)ve to travelers]. (2) [r2: There are so many cars on the road that the environment and human safety are under threat]. (3) [c: Rail travel should be made cheaper]. (4) [r3: Everyone wants the road to be less crowded, but they s)ll want the convenience of being able to travel by road themselves]. (5) [r4: People will not abandon the car in favor of the train without some new incen)ve]. or [ { ( r2 and r3 and r4 ) -> r1/ic } -> c ] or (3) There are so many cars on the road that the environment and human safety are under threat [and] (4) everyone wants the road to be less crowded, but they s)ll want the convenience of being able to travel by road themselves [and] (5) people will not abandon the car in favor of the train without com new incen)ve. (1) [Therefore] we need to make rail travel more a>rac)ve to travelers. (3) [Therefore] rail travel should be made cheaper. Call this chain reasoning: at least one reason (r1) suppor)ng the main conclusion, which is supported by at least one reason (r2, r3, r4), making it an intermediate conclusion (ic). In the spirit of what Fisher outlines in the first part of the second chapter of The Logic of Real Arguments, we have then a sort of five-step method of analyzing the structure of an argument, allowing us to evaluate it for its worthiness to convince on the basis of step- by-step evalua)on of its inferences. First, we iden)fy the various conven)onal reason and conclusion indicators, if any. Second, using the conclusion indicators iden)fied, we iden)fy the argument's main conclusion, the proposi)on the arguer wants to convince us to share. In some cases, a choice between candidate main conclusions may be indicated, in which case we need to choose the the best one, at least provisionally. Third, using the reason indicators iden)fied, we iden)fy the inference or complex of inferences -- by which we mean a reason or set of reasons compelling us to one degree of another to accept a conclusion -- that support most immediately, independently or jointly, the main conclusion. Fourth, we ask for each of the reasons immediately suppor)ng the main conclusion whether it's "basic," in which case there are no addi)onal reasons suppor)ng it, or "non-basic," in which case there are, which we then iden)fy as intermediate conclusions ac)ng as reasons for the main conclusion. FiPh, we repeat the process un)l we run out of text or speech on the arguer's part. If all goes well, we can iden)fy in this way all of an argument's inferences, in order to be able to evaluate them, and so, together with the rela)ve truth of the reasons, assump)ons and context, and the arguer's credibility, evaluate the argument as a whole. Using the above procedure, what's the structure of the argument? Most prospec)ve parents would prefer to have sons. So, if people can choose the sex of the child, then it is likely that there will eventually be more males than females in the popula)on. This could produce serious social problems, therefore we should prohibit the use of techniques that enable people to choose the sex of their child. First ques)on what are the indicators? the obvious indicators appear to be the following: Most prospec)ve parents would prefer to have sons. So, if people can choose the sex of the child, then it is likely that there will eventually be more males than females in the popula)on. This could produce serious social problems, therefore we should prohibit the use of techniques that enable people to choose the sex of their child. Second ques)on, what's the main conclusion, or if there isn't one obvious one, what are the candidate main conclusions? The main conclusion appears pre>y uncontroversially to be ... Most prospec)ve parents would prefer to have sons. So, if people can choose the sex of the child, then it is likely that there will eventually be more males than females in the popula)on. This could produce serious social problems, therefore [c: we should prohibit the use of techniques that enable people to choose the sex of their child]. Third ques)on, what reason or reasons most immediately suggest c? What appears most immediately to suggest c is what comes before its conclusion indicator, which is "This [i.e., "there [being] eventually ... more males than females in the popula)on] could produce serious social problems" (a sort of built-in therefore test here) Most prospec)ve parents would prefer to have sons. So, if people can choose the sex of the child, then it is likely that there will eventually be more males than females in the popula)on. [r1: This could produce serious social problems], therefore [c: we should prohibit the use of techniques that enable people to choose the sex of their child]. Third ques)on s)ll ... is there other reasons that suggest c immediately, together with or independently of r1? The " This" in r1 ("This [i.e., "there [being] eventually ... more males than females in the popula)on] could produce serious social problems") appears to suggest that the preceding hypothe)cal, "if people can choose the sex of the child, then it is likely that there will eventually be more males than females in the popula)on," is recommending c dependently with r1: Most prospec)ve parents would prefer to have sons. So, [r2: if people can choose the sex of the child, then it is likely that there will eventually be more males than females in the popula)on]. [r1: This could produce serious social problems], therefore [c: we should prohibit the use of techniques that enable people to choose the sex of their child]. Third ques)on s)ll ... is there other reasons that suggest c immediately, together with or independently of r1 and r2, which appear to be recommending c dependently? The only thing le: that might be and addi)onal reason that suggests c, together with or independently of r1 and r2, would be "Most prospec)ve parents would prefer to have sons." The conclusion indicator that precedes r2, however, would appear to isolate it already as a reason not immediately sugges)ng c, but mediately sugges)ng it, as reason sugges)ng r2, making it an intermediate conclusion. [r3: Most prospec)ve parents would prefer to have sons]. So, [r2/ic: if people can choose the sex of the child, then it is likely that there will eventually be more males than females in the popula)on]. [r1: This could produce serious social problems], therefore [c: we should prohibit the use of techniques that enable people to choose the sex of their child]. Given the analysis of the structure of the argument ... [r3: Most prospec)ve parents would prefer to have sons]. So, [r2/ic: if people can choose the sex of the child, then it is likely that there will eventually be more males than females in the popula)on]. [r1: This could produce serious social problems], therefore [c: we should prohibit the use of techniques that enable people to choose the sex of their child]. Consider the following sort of mul)ple-choice ques)on -- Which of the following statements is not true of this passage? a. It involves side-by-side reasoning. b. It explicitly assumes that most prospec)ve parents would prefer to have sons. c. It contains the intermediate conclusion that "if people can choose the sex of the child, then it is likely that there will eventually be more males than females in the popula)on." d. It contains the intermediate conclusion that " This could produce serious social problems." e. It involves chain reasoning. The answer to the ques)on is a. It involves side-by-side reasoning. b. It explicitly assumes that most prospec)ve parents would prefer to have sons. c. It contains the intermediate conclusion that "if people can choose the sex of the child, then it is likely that there will eventually be more males than females in the popula)on." d. It contains the intermediate conclusion that " This could produce serious social problems." e. It involves chain reasoning. Recall the analysis of the argument's structure: [r3: Most prospec)ve parents would prefer to have sons]. So, [r2/ic: if people can choose the sex of the child, then it is likely that there will eventually be more males than females in the popula)on]. [r1: This could produce serious social problems], therefore [c: we should prohibit the use of techniques that enable people to choose the sex of their child]. That is ... r1 ("this could produce serious social problems") is not an intermediate conclusion. The author merely asserts rather than argues, that serious social problems could result if there are more males than females in the popula)on. (Also, the side-by-side reasoning involved is in the second link in the chain: r1 and r2 are joint side-by-side reasons for c.) ...
View Full Document

This document was uploaded on 10/29/2011 for the course PHILOSOPHY 101 at Rutgers.

Ask a homework question - tutors are online