The United States Constitution prohibits searches by police officers unless these officers have adequate reason. That is why the police need a search warrant before they can search any home. If they fail to obtain one, a case that ends up in court will likely be thrown out. Our right to privacy, then, can't be violated without due cause. If the police can't search our homes without good reason, why should our head advisor spot-check our rooms for signs of wrongdoing? Sammy Borchardt A common and powerful form of deduction called reductio ad absurdum (to reduce to absurdity) is used to attack an opponent's position by showing that its consequences are absurd if carried to their logical end. To counter the position that the government should impose no restrictions on the public's right to bear arms, you might point out that, carried to its logical extreme, such a policy would allow individuals to own bazookas, cannons, and nuclear bombs. This absurd result makes it clear that certain restrictions should apply to our right to bear arms. The question then becomes where we should draw the ownership line. Often, a deductive argument is built around a categorical syllogism, a set of three statements that follow a fixed pattern to ensure sound reasoning. The first statement, called the major premise, names a category of things and says that all or none of them shares a certain characteristic. The minor premise notes that a thing or group of things belongs to that category. The conclusion states that the thing or group shares the characteristics of the category. Here are two examples: Major premise: All persons are mortal. Minor premise: Sue Davis is a person. Conclusion: Therefore, Sue Davis is mortal. Major premise: No dogs have feathers. Minor premise: Spot is a dog. Conclusion: Therefore, Spot does not have feathers. Note that in each case both major and minor premises are true and the conclusion follows logically. Syllogisms frequently appear in stripped-down form, with one of the premises or the conclusion omitted. The following example omits the major premise: "Because Wilma is a civil engineer, she has a strong 107
background in mathematics." Obviously the missing major premise is as follows: "All civil engineers have strong backgrounds in mathematics." Syllogistic Argument at Work. A syllogism can occur anywhere in an essay: in the introduction to set the stage for the evidence, at various places in the body, even in the conclusion in order to pull the argument together. Here is an example that uses a syllogism in the introduction: In 1966, when the Astrodome was completed in Houston, Texas, the managers concluded that it would be impossible to grow grass indoors. To solve their problem, they decided to install a ruglike synthetic playing surface that was fittingly called Astroturf. In the ensuing years, many other sports facilities have installed synthetic turf. Unfortunately, this development has been accompanied by a sharp rise in the number and severity
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