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# CriticalThinking Tutorial 5

4 pages
1 Concepts to be Clear On1.1 ‘New’ Concepts• Clustering Illusion• Statistical Regression1.2 Problems with Individual Assignment # 1• Too narrow and too broad deﬁnitions• Inference Indicators• Logical Strength and Soundness• Synthetic vs. analytic statements• Conﬁrmation bias• Use/Mention distinction• Necessary and suﬃcent conditions• Valid arguments2 Chapter 4: Reconstructing Arguments (§4.4)2.1 Near ArgumentsThis section is concerned with making the distinction between speech and text that look verymuch like arguments but actually are not. These are so-called near arguments. There are twotypes of such arguments: reports of arguments; and explanations.2.1.1 Reports of ArgumentsA report of an argument is a statement that says that someone argued in a certain way (i.e. astatement that reports an argument) and so the statement (or set of statements) is not itself anargument. For example:John says that you shouldn’t vote in elections because all politicians are dishonest.This statement tells us that John thinks that we should not vote in elections and that his reasonfor thinking this is that politicians are dishonest. The statement itself is not an argument,however, since it is only telling us how John argues. As Hughes says, “a report of an argumentis no more an argument than a photograph of an accident is itself an accident.” Now, since it isa statement it is capable of being true or false, according to whether it is a faithful account ofJohn’s ...
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1 Conceptsto be Clear On 1.1 ‘New’Concepts Clustering Illusion Statistical Regression
1.2 Problemswith Individual Assignment # 1 Too narrow and too broad deﬁnitions Inference Indicators Logical Strength and Soundness Synthetic vs. analytic statements Conﬁrmation bias Use/Mention distinction Necessary and suﬃcent conditions Valid arguments
2 Chapter4: ReconstructingArguments (§4.4) 2.1 NearArguments This section is concerned with making the distinction between speech and text that look very much like arguments but actually are not.These are so-callednear argumentsare two. There types of such arguments:reportsof arguments; andexplanations.
2.1.1 Reportsof Arguments A report of an argument is a statement that says that someone argued in a certain way (i.e.a statement thatreportsan argument) and so the statement (or set of statements) is not itself an argument. Forexample: John says that you shouldn’t vote in elections because all politicians are dishonest. This statement tells us that John thinks that we should not vote in elections and that his reason for thinking this is that politicians are dishonest.The statement itself is not an argument, however, since it is only telling us how John argues.As Hughes says, “a report of an argument is no more an argument than a photograph of an accident is itself an accident.”Now, since it is a statement it is capable of being true or false, according to whether it is a faithful account of John’s reasoning.
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Another example of a report of an argument is the following: In 1851 John Stuart Mill argued that we should never restrict freedom of expression because in the long run complete freedom of expression has beneﬁcial social conse-quences, even if in some particular cases the consequences are harmful. If we are asked whether we agree with the author’s statement, then how do we respond?Do we respond on the basis of whether or not we agree that freedom of expression should not be restricted or, rather, do we respond on the basis of whether we think that this is what John Stuart Mill actually said?We must distinguish between the argument that is being reported and the report itself.Since we are being asked if we argree with the report then we must respond in the latter way.We may do this without taking a position on Mill’s argument.
It is important to note that reports of argumentscanthemselves be arguments, but in such a case it is necessary to distinguish between the argument being reported and the argument concerning the argument being presented.An example of such a case is when someone presents an argument that someone else argues in a certain way.Other cases are when someone reports an argument precisely because they think that the argument they are reporting is sound.
2.1.2 Explanations The other type of near argument consists ofexplanations. Inan explanation one provides reasons whyorhowsomething happens (or is the case) rather than deducing a conclusion from a set of premises as is done in an argument.Examples are: My car won’t start because it is out of gas. The reason that the Liberals lost the last election is that they were perceived by the voters as arrogant and uncaring. The Red Wings got a penalty because they had too many players on the ice. The main distinction between explanations and arguments is that in the case of an explanation an event (or statement) is taken for granted and we seek to understand why it occurred (or why it is the case), whereas, in the case of an argument we seek toshowthat something is true, usually when there is some possibility of disagreement about its correctness.
In order to be more precise, I will go back to my notes for Chapter 1 and give precise deﬁnitions. (The content of this paragraph will not be examined.It is just to help clarify the distinction.)An explanationis a set of statements along with the claim that a particular one of them (what is being explained), called theexplanandum, is true because of the others, called theexplanans. Thus, in an explanation we begin with the knowledge that a particular statement is true.Now we can see the diﬀerence between explanations and arguments:In the case of an explanation we take a single statement and look for reasons why it is true and, in the case of an argument, on the basis of one or several statements (the premises) we infer another statement (the conclusion). The process of reasoning follows the following scheme in the two cases:
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Explanation:Explanandum Q m Q m Q m Q m Q m Q m Q m Q m Q m Q m Q m Q vvm (( Explanans 1Explanans 2Explanans 3
Argument:Premise 3Premise 2Premise 1 O O o O o O o O o O o O o O o O o O o O o '' wwo Conclusion
Note that it is possible to have argumentsaboutexplanations, which complicates matters. Thus, we see that it is important, in a given case, to determine if some speech or text is an argument, an explanation, an explanation of an argument or an argument about an explanation. In order to make this determination we must examine the features of the context of use and use the principle of charity.
2.2 Questionsfor Discussion:§107-9 in Hughes)4.9 (pp. Read carefully each of the following passages and decide whether it is an argument. 1. (Background: Afather is talking to his sixteen-year-old son.) It wouldn’t matter if everybody in the school was going to the rock concert.The point is that you know that you shouldn’t go.You promised me that if we didn’t give you a curfew any more you would ensure that every school assignment would be submitted on time.And there is no way you can ﬁnish your history essay if you go to that concert. 2. (Background: Astudent who has missed a mid-term approaches the instructor to ask for a make-up test.) I’m sorry I missed the test, but it really wasn’t my fault.I went home on the weekend, and didn’t get back until midnight.I studied until four in the morning and as a result I didn’t hear my alarm and missed the test.It would be really unfair if I were to be punished for something that is not my fault. 3. (Background: Aletter to the editor commenting upon a recent U.S. court ruling that teach-ing scientiﬁc creationism in science courses in public schools is unconstitutional.Scientiﬁc creationism holds that the biblical account of creation is a legitimate scientiﬁc theory that should be taught in science courses along with the theory of evolution.) Your recent report on scientiﬁc creationism was very interesting and I don’t disagree with anything it said, but it failed to point out the true nature of these so-called ”scientiﬁc” creationists. Thefact is that they are a bunch of intellectual misﬁts and misguided crackpots who wouldn’t recognize a truly scientiﬁc theory if you hit them over the head with it.They are either lamentably ignorant, or bigots, or both.
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