Illustrate an example of an incorrect and a correct use of each of these two rules.
Discuss why the rules are important in formulating strong arguments.
The rules I selected are:
Start from reliable premises
No matter how well you argue from premises to conclusion,
your conclusion will be weak if your premises are weak.
Nobody in the world today is really happy. Therefore, it seems
that human beings are just not made for happiness. Why should
we expect what we can never find?
The premise of this argument is the statement that nobody in the
world today is really happy. Ask yourself if this premise is
plausible. Is nobody in the world today really happy? At the
very least this premise needs some defense, and very likely it is
just not true. This argument cannot show, then, that human
beings are not made for happiness or that we should not expect
to be happy. Composing a Short Argument 5
Sometimes it is easy to start from reliable premises. You may
have well-known examples at hand or informed authorities who
are clearly in agreement. Other times it is harder. If you are not
sure about the reliability of a premise, you may need to do some
research and/or give a short argument for the premise itself. (We
will return to this theme in later chapters, especially in Rule A2
of Chapter VII.) If you find you cannot argue adequately for
your premise(s), then, of course, you need to give up entirely
and start elsewhere!
Avoid loaded language
Do not make your argument look good by mocking or distorting
the other side. Generally, people advocate a position for serious
and sincere reasons. Try to figure out their view—try to get it
right—even if you disagree entirely. A person who questions a
new technology is not in favor of "going back to the caves," for
example, and a person who believes in evolution is not claiming
that her grandma was a monkey. If you can't imagine how
anyone could hold the view you are attacking, you just don't
understand it yet.
In general, avoid language whose only function is to sway the
emotions. This is "loaded language."
Having so disgracefully allowed her once-proud passenger
railroads to fade into obscurity, America is honor bound to restore
This is supposed to be an argument for restoring (more) passenger
rail service. But it offers no evidence for this conclusion
whatsoever, just some emotionally loaded words—shopworn
words, too, like a politician on automatic. Did passenger rail
"fade" because of something "America" did or didn't do? What
was "disgraceful" about this? Many "once-proud" institutions
fall into disarray, after all—we're not obliged to restore them
all. What does it mean to say America is "honor bound" to do
this? Have promises been made and broken? By whom?
I'm sure much can be said for restoring passenger rail, especially
in this era when the ecological and economic costs of
highways are becoming enormous. The problem here is that this
argument does not say it. It lets the overtones of the words do all
the work, and therefore really does no work at all. We're left Composing a Short Argument 7
exactly where we started. When it's your turn, stick to the
Please answer the questions base on the two rules that I selected.
Please include all references website use for this assignment.
About 220 words
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