Select two of the scenarios in the Applications list 12.2 (a.-ff.) at the end of Ch. 12 in The Art of Thinking.
Apply the following in a paper of 600 to 800 words for each scenario:
- Evaluate each argument, using the four-step process described on pp. 197-198, regarding soundness of reasoning (truth and validity).
- Explain your assessment, and add alternative argumentation where necessary.
Format your assignment according to appropriate course level APA guidelines.
Tools – 12.2 list
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.
- Having great wealth is a worthy goal because it is difficult to attain and many famous people have pursued it.
- Low grades on a college transcript are a handicap in the job market, so teachers who grade harshly are doing students a disservice.
- The Bible can’t be relevant to today’s problems; it was written many centuries ago and is filled with archaic phrasing.
- It is dishonest to pretend to have knowledge one does not have, so plagiarism is more virtue than vice.
- 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.
- No one who ever attended this college achieved distinction after graduation. Marvin attends this college. Therefore, Marvin will not achieve distinction after graduation.
- Drug dealing should not be a crime because it does not directly harm others or force them to harm themselves.
- A mature person is self-directing, so parents who make all their children’s decisions for them are doing their offspring a disservice.
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.
- 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 Chapter 9).
- Examine your argument for validity errors; that is, consider the reasoning that links conclusions to premises. Determine whether your conclusion is legitimate or illegitimate.
- 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.