Select three of the scenarios in the Applications list 12.2 at the end of Ch. 12 in The Art of Thinking.
1. Rock musicians are contributing to the decline of language by singing in a slurred, mumbling manner.
2. Power must be evil because it can corrupt people.
3. Low grades on a college transcript are a handicap in the job market, so teachers who grade harshly are doing students a disservice.
Apply the following in 350 to 500 words for each scenario:
Evaluate each argument, using the 4-step process described on p. 218, regarding soundness of reasoning (truth and validity).
1. 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.
2. 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
3. Examine your argument for validity errors; that is, consider the reasoning
that links conclusions to premises. Determine whether your conclusion is
legitimate or illegitimate.
4. 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.
• Explain your assessment and add alternative argumentation where necessary.
Format your paper consistent with APA guidelines.
o Please read the assignment very carefully and note that this assignment asks that you evaluate an argument using the 4 steps provided in the text under the heading Evaluating an Argument. This is NOT an assignment about persuasion. If you submit only a persuasive argument, you will not receive a passing grade on this assignment.
For example, consider the following scenario provided in the list:
The Bible can’t be relevant to today’s problems; it was written many centuries ago and is filled with archaic phrasing.
Following the guidelines set forth by the assignment you would go through each of the four steps for evaluating an argument and determine if this is a sound, logical statement. You would NOT attempt to persuade me that the Bible is relevant or that language endures the test of time. Remember, this is not an opinion based assignment, rather it is rooted in the logical steps presented in the text for evaluating an argument.
Unfortunately, it has been my experience that a handful of students elect to choose arguments from the list provided and attempt to convince me that one particular stance is true or false. Again, this is not the assignment. In fact, it does not matter if the statement is true or false, or if you can prove it’s verity. This assignment is only focused on if the argument is sound.
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