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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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4. (Background: Severalstudents are discussing the U.S. war on Iraq.One, who supported the war, is responding to the objection that the U.S. has no right to act as a world policeman.) But of course the U.S. has the right to police the world.The U.S. is one of the most powerful nations in the world; surely you don’t deny that.Well, that’s one of the things world powers can do.If a world power decides to act as a world cop, then it has that right. 5. (Background: Alawyer is attempting to persuade a client not to sue his doctor for mal-practice.) I understand why you feel a sense of grievance, but I don’t think it is a good idea.First, you have to prove that the doctor was negligent, i.e., that he failed to provide medical care that is up to the accepted standard.And given what you’ve told me, I don’t think we would prove that at all.After all, he did explicitly warn you that there was only a 70 per cent chance of success.Secondly, a trial will be extremely stressful for your wife, since she will have to answer a lot of intimate personal questions which I’m sure she would prefer to avoid. 6. (Background: Froma talk on student stress given by an educational psychologist to a group of highschool teachers.) Finally, we come to the type of stress that is induced by the learning process itself, for example, stress that results from getting low grades, from not understanding the material, from being late with assignments, or from asking dumb questions in class.Unlike other types of stress, this type is caused by you as teachers.If you want to reduce this type of stress the solution is in your hands:develop better methods of presenting material and motivating the students to master it, make sure students don’t get into courses they cannot handle, be more reasonable about accepting late assignments, and be polite to students who ask dumb questions. 7. (Background: Auniversity student is talking to a friend about smoking marijuana.) My mom and dad, and my older sister too, used to warn me about the evils of taking drugs. Iremember the first time I went to a party where people were smoking pot; I mean, I thought I was in a den of iniquity and I left as soon as I could.But after a while you realize that there are all sorts of perfectly ordinary people walking around who smoke a bit of pot now and again.So I figure there can’t be anything really wrong with it. 8. (Background: Froman article entitled ”Technology:Boon or Doom?”) These astonishing achievements - achievements that earlier generations could only dream of- have produced in many a faith in the limitless capacity of technology to benefit mankind. During the past two decades, however, there has been increasing evidence that this faith is unreasonable.The space shuttle disaster, the Chernobyl and Three Mile Island nuclear accidents, acid rain, and a host of other technological misfortunes have each in their own way shown that there are significant limitations to what technology can do.
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