2a

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2a

  1. 1. Distinguishing Arguments from Non-arguments   The aim of this tutorial is to help you identify arguments and distinguish them from various kinds of non-arguments. Go to next slide
  2. 2. An argument is a claim defended with reasons. More precisely, a passage is an argument if and only if: (a) it is a group of two or more statements (b) one of those statements (the conclusion) is claimed or intended to be supported by the other(s) (the premises). Go to next slide
  3. 3. Notice three important things that follow from this definition: Go to next slide 1. Arguments consist entirely of statements, i.e., sentences that it makes sense to regard as either true or false. Questions, commands, exclamations, and other kinds of nonstatements cannot be parts of arguments. (Keep in mind, however, that rhetorical questions should be treated as statements.) 2. No single statement, however long, complex, or controversial, is an argument. Arguments always consist of at least two statements. 3. Nothing counts as an argument unless it is claimed or intended that one statement follows from one or more other statements in the passage. In other words, a passage is an argument only if the speaker or writer intends to offer evidence or reasons why another statement should be accepted as true.
  4. 4. Five kinds of passages that are sometimes confused with arguments are: Go to next slide <ul><li>reports </li></ul><ul><li>unsupported statements of belief or opinion </li></ul><ul><li>illustrations </li></ul><ul><li>conditional statements </li></ul><ul><li>explanations </li></ul>
  5. 5. Planet Earth was much drier in the Triassic than it is now, and there were large deserts in inland areas. There were no flowering plants or grasses--they evolved much later. The most common trees were conifers, similar to today's pines. Other large plants included yews, ginkgos, and the palmlike cycads. Moisture-loving ferns and horsetails thrived by lakes and rivers. Philip Whitfield, Simon & Schuster's Children's Guide to Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Animals , 1992) This passage is a report. Go to next slide A report is a statement or group of statements intended simply to convey information about a subject. Keep in mind that reports of other people's arguments should be regarded as reports rather than as arguments.
  6. 6.   An unsupported statement of belief or opinion is a statement or set of statements in which the speaker or writer expresses his or her personal opinion, but offers no reasons or evidence to back up that opinion. This passage is an unsupported statement of belief or opinion. Go to next slide 1. Begin each day with a prayer. 2. Work hard. 3. Love your family. 4. Make light of your troubles. 5. Follow the Golden Rule. 6. Read from the Bible. 7. Show kindness. 8. Read worthwhile books. 9. Be clean and pure. 10. Have charity in your heart. 11. Be obedient and respectful. 12. End the day in prayer. These twelve rules, the &quot;Quaker Dozen,&quot; were written long ago in a family Bible. But I believe they still fit today's problems. (Adapted from Olive Ireland Theen, &quot;Grandfather's Quaker Dozen,&quot; in William Nichol, ed., A New Treasury of Words to Live By , 1959)
  7. 7. Almost all groups agree in holding other groups to be inferior to themselves. The American Indians looked upon themselves as the chosen people, specially created by the Great Spirit as an uplifting example for mankind. One Indian tribe called itself &quot;The Only Men&quot;; another called itself &quot;Men of Men&quot;; the Caribs said, &quot;We alone are people.&quot; (Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage , 1935) This passage is an illustration. Go to next slide An illustration is a passage intended to provide examples that illustrate or support a claim, not to provide convincing evidence that the claim is true. The three examples cited in this passage are clearly insufficient to support the author's claim that &quot; almost all groups agree in holding other groups to be inferior to themselves.&quot; This indicates that the passage is intended to illustrate the author's claim, rather than to prove it.
  8. 8. Conditional statements are not arguments because arguments always contain at least two statements and conditional statements consist of only a single statement: &quot; Statement A is true on the condition that statement B is true.&quot; This passage is a conditional statement. A conditional statement is an if-then statement. It is an assertion that such-and-such is true if something else is true. Go to next slide If Hal comes to the party than Sarah will come to the party. In the passage above, the speaker or writer isn't asserting that Hal will come to the party. Nor is she asserting that Sarah will come to the party. Rather, she is asserting that Sarah will come to the party provided that Hal comes to the party. This is a single statement, and thus is not an argument.
  9. 9. I speak English because my parents sent me to boarding school in London. Go to next slide This passage is an explanation. An explanation is a statement or set of statements that seeks to provide an account of why something has occurred or why something is the case. In this passage, the speaker or writer isn't trying to prove that he can speak English (that's obvious from the fact that he is speaking English!). Rather, he is trying to explain why he speaks English. In other words, arguments seek to provide evidence or reasons that something is the case; explanations seek to explain why something is the case.
  10. 10. Is this passage an argument or not an argument? If it is not an argument, is it a report, an unsupported statement of belief or opinion, an illustration, a conditional statement, or an explanation? Go to next slide For the person who called and said Larry Bird was better than Michael Jordan, wake up. No one was ever better than Michael Jordan, not even Kareem in his glory and not even Dr. J (From a newspaper call-in column)
  11. 11.   Non-argument (unsupported statement of belief or opinion). Go to next slide For the person who called and said Larry Bird was better than Michael Jordan, wake up. No one was ever better than Michael Jordan, not even Kareem in his glory and not even Dr. J (From a newspaper call-in column)   In this passage, the speaker simply asserts his opinion; he makes no effort to defend it.
  12. 12. When a democratic society is correctly understood to be one in which the people live under constitutional government with universal suffrage and with the securing of human rights, economic as well as political, for all citizens, it must then be recognized that a democratic society is not yet fifty years old in this country (Mortimer J. Adler, The Paideia Proposal , 1984) Is this passage an argument or not an argument? If it is not an argument, is it a report, an unsupported statement of belief or opinion, an illustration, a conditional statement, or an explanation? Go to next slide
  13. 13. When a democratic society is correctly understood to be one in which the people live under constitutional government with universal suffrage and with the securing of human rights, economic as well as political, for all citizens, it must then be recognized that a democratic society is not yet fifty years old in this country (Mortimer J. Adler, The Paideia Proposal , 1984) Argument. The writer is giving a reason to support his claim that democracy is less than fifty years old in the United States. Go to next slide
  14. 14. If a claim or position is being set forth and no other explicit or implicit statement is used to support it, then the spoken or written material in question is not an argument (T. Edward Damer, Attacking Faulty Reasoning , 4 th ed., 2001) Is this passage an argument or not an argument? If it is not an argument, is it a report, an unsupported statement of belief or opinion, an illustration, a conditional statement, or an explanation? Go to next slide
  15. 15. If a claim or position is being set forth and no other explicit or implicit statement is used to support it, then the spoken or written material in question is not an argument (T. Edward Damer, Attacking Faulty Reasoning , 4 th ed., 2001)   Non-argument (conditional statement). The writer is simply making an if-then statement, not giving reasons why some other statement should be believed. Go to next slide
  16. 16. Women my age know whom to blame for our own self-loathing, eating disorders and distorted body image: Barbie. So we're raising our vulnerable, body-conscious girls to beware the perpetually pointy-toed goddess with the impossible body and perfect face (Amy Dickinson, &quot;Measuring Up,&quot; Time , November 20, 2000)   Is this passage an argument or not an argument? If it is not an argument, is it a report, an unsupported statement of belief or opinion, an illustration, a conditional statement, or an explanation? Go to next slide
  17. 17. Women my age know whom to blame for our own self-loathing, eating disorders and distorted body image: Barbie. So we're raising our vulnerable, body-conscious girls to beware the perpetually pointy-toed goddess with the impossible body and perfect face (Amy Dickinson, &quot;Measuring Up,&quot; Time , November 20, 2000)   The writer isn't seeking to prove that women her age are raising their vulnerable, body-conscious daughters to beware of Barbie; rather, she's offering an explanation why they are doing so. Go to next slide Non-argument (explanation).
  18. 18. Although you usually cannot eliminate the personal feelings that are influencing your perceptions, you can become aware of them and try to compensate for their bias. For instance, if you are asked to evaluate a group of people, one of whom is a good friend, you should try to keep these personal feelings in mind in order to make your evaluation as accurate as possible (John Chaffee, The Thinker's Way , 1998)   Is this passage an argument or not an argument? If it is not an argument, is it a report, an unsupported statement of belief or opinion, an illustration, a conditional statement, or an explanation? Go to next slide
  19. 19. Although you usually cannot eliminate the personal feelings that are influencing your perceptions, you can become aware of them and try to compensate for their bias. For instance, if you are asked to evaluate a group of people, one of whom is a good friend, you should try to keep these personal feelings in mind in order to make your evaluation as accurate as possible (John Chaffee, The Thinker's Way , 1998)   In this passage, the words &quot;for instance&quot; signal us that the author is trying to illustrate a claim, not to prove it. Go to next slide Non-argument (illustration).
  20. 20. In his book Natural Theology , which set forth the standard academic and theological wisdom of the early nineteenth century, William Paley had compared nature to a watch. If you chanced upon a watch lying alone on the ground, he wrote, and then examined its intricate structure, you could not help concluding that it had been made by an intelligent designer. It couldn't possibly be the product of mere chance. And yet, the natural world exhibits much more complex order than any watch. Thus, Paley concluded, there has to be an intelligent designer responsible for nature's fine arrangement (John F. Haught, Science and Religion , 1995)   Is this passage an argument or not an argument? If it is not an argument, is it a report, an unsupported statement of belief or opinion, an illustration, a conditional statement, or an explanation? Go to next slide
  21. 21. In his book Natural Theology , which set forth the standard academic and theological wisdom of the early nineteenth century, William Paley had compared nature to a watch. If you chanced upon a watch lying alone on the ground, he wrote, and then examined its intricate structure, you could not help concluding that it had been made by an intelligent designer. It couldn't possibly be the product of mere chance. And yet, the natural world exhibits much more complex order than any watch. Thus, Paley concluded, there has to be an intelligent designer responsible for nature's fine arrangement (John F. Haught, Science and Religion , 1995)   In this passage, the writer is reporting someone else's argument, not endorsing it as correct. Thus, the argument is a report rather than an argument. This is the end of this tutorial Non-argument (report).

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