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  1. 1. Topic 2 Recognizing Arguments Critical Thinking
  2. 2. What is an argument? (What is a statement?) <ul><li>Statement : a sentence/utterance that can be viewed as either true or false. </li></ul><ul><li>Argument : group of statements, one or more of which is/are intended to prove or support another statement. </li></ul><ul><li>Premises : statements in an argument offered as evidence or reasons why one should accept another statement. </li></ul><ul><li>The Conclusion : the statement that the premises support/prove. </li></ul>
  3. 3. What is a statement? <ul><li>Examples: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Red is a color. (physical statement) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Abortion is morally wrong. (moral statement) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The Matrix is a better movie than Titanic. (evaluative statement) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Non-Examples: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What time is it? (question) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Close the window! (command) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Oh, my goodness! (exclamation) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Statement test: Does it make sense to put “it is true that” or “it is false that” in front of it? If so, it is a statement. If not, it’s not. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Tricky statements <ul><li>Rhetorical question: a sentence that has the grammatical form of a question but is meant to be understood as a statement. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Don’t you know smoking will kill you? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>(means: Smoking will kill you.) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How am I supposed to do that? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>(means: I can’t do that.) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Ought imperative: a sentence that has the form of a command but is a statement about what ought to be done. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Do X!” really means “You should do X.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Don’t blow dry your hair in the tub!” really means “You should not blow dry your hair in the tub.” </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Identifying Premises and Conclusions <ul><li>Indicators provide clues that premises or conclusions are put forward. </li></ul><ul><li>Premise indicators : since, for, seeing that, inasmuch as, in view of the fact that, because, as, given that </li></ul><ul><li>Conclusion indicators : therefore, hence, so, it follows that, wherefore, thus, consequently. </li></ul><ul><li>But they are only indicators, they are not flawless. Many times they are absent; sometimes they are misleading. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Finding Conclusions Without Indicators <ul><li>Find the main issues; determine the author’s position. </li></ul><ul><li>Look at the beginning and end; it’s usually there. </li></ul><ul><li>See which statement “therefore” fits best in front of. </li></ul><ul><li>The because trick (fill in the blank): The arguer believes (conclusion) because (premise(s)). </li></ul>
  7. 7. What are not arguments <ul><li>Reports : statements made to convey information. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ More people moved to the south this year.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Oil prices dropped today, thus so did gas prices.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Notice that, even though there is a conclusion indicator, this is still a report. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Unsupported Assumptions : when someone puts forth what they believe but does not intend for any of their statements to support another. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>People aren’t afraid of dying; they are afraid of not living. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>People like this course because of the professor. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Notice the presence of a premise indicator, but not a premise. </li></ul></ul></ul>
  8. 8. What Is Not An Argument <ul><li>Conditional (“if-then”) statements: </li></ul><ul><li>e.g., : If it rains, the picnic will be cancelled. </li></ul><ul><li>Most common forms: If A then B ; B if A . </li></ul><ul><li>Antecedent : usually, the part that directly follows “if.” </li></ul><ul><li>Consequent : Usually, the part that follows “then” </li></ul><ul><li>But conditionals don’t always have “if” or “then” </li></ul><ul><li>e.g., In the event of rain, the picnic will be cancelled. </li></ul>
  9. 9. More On Conditional Statements <ul><li>Conditionals are not arguments, but they can look like them. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Conditional: If I was taller I would play basketball. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Argument: I am tall, so I would make a good basketball player. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>If Rhode Island was larger than Ohio, and Ohio was larger than Texas, then Rhode Island would be larger than Texas. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>This is a conditional statement; “If the first two things are true, then the third is true.” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>If Bob is taller than Chris then Bob is taller than Ann. If Bob is taller than Ann, then Bob is taller then Lori. Thus, if Bob is taller than Chris then Bob is taller than Lori. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>This is an argument. The latter follows from the two former statements. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Chain arguments: consist of conditional statements. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>If A then B. If B then C. Therefore, if A then C. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>e.g., If Allen moves I will be all alone. If I am all alone then I will be sad. So if Allen moves I will be sad. </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. What Is Not An Argument <ul><li>Illustrations : examples of a claim. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Many wildflowers are edible. For example, daises and day lilies are delicious in salads. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Be careful. Some arguments can look like illustrations because they use “counter examples.” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Many people think that all Star Trek fans are zit faced nerds. But that is not true. For example , Christian Slater is a Star Trek fan and he is not a zit faced nerd. </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. What Is Not An Argument <ul><li>Explanation : tries to show why something is the case (not argue that it is the case). </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Usually offers up a causal explanation for something that is already accepted as true. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Titanic sank because it struck an iceberg. (explanation) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Capital Punishment is wrong because it is murder. (argument) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Explanandum : what is explained (the event). </li></ul><ul><li>Explanans : the explanation (the cause). </li></ul><ul><li>“ Explanadum” because “Explanans.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ I ski because I think it is fun.” (explanation) </li></ul><ul><li>“ You should ski because it is fun.” (argument) </li></ul>
  12. 12. Arguments vs. Explanation (how to tell the difference) <ul><li>The Common-Knowledge Test </li></ul><ul><ul><li>If it points at something that is common knowledge, it is probably an explanation. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Most people don’t present arguments for things people already believe. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Example: “TV is very influential in society because most people watch it.” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The Past-Event Test </li></ul><ul><ul><li>If it points at a past event, it is probably an explanation. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Usually people don’t argue “X occurred.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Example: “The US entered WWII because of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor.” </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Arguments vs. Explanation (how to tell the difference) <ul><li>The Author’s Intent Test: Ask if the person making the statement is trying to “prove” something or explain why something is true. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>You want a college degree because you want a better life. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The Principle of Charity Test: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The Principle of Charity: interpret generously (give the author of the statement a break). If what he said would be a bad argument, but it could be interpreted as an example (or explanation) assume it is not an argument. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The Test: If you have a choice between interpreting a statement as a “bad argument” or an “unsatisfactory explanation,” do the latter. A bad argument is a worse mistake. </li></ul></ul>