3. Twenty-seven exercises (with answers)

3. Twenty-seven exercises (with answers)

Some more examples for exercise in differentiating arguments from non-arguments.

 

1. I thought I recognized the first guest on The Daily Show yesterday because it turns out he’s the brother of someone I work with.

 

2. The events in Iran are encouraging because they indicate that the theocratic regime is losing its stability to some degree.

 

3. The events in Iran are deeply disturbing because people are being killed.

 

4. Hundreds of people have been arrested in the demonstrations.

 

5. You get better news from Jon Stewart than from Katie Couric, like last night’s report from inside Iran on Ibrahim Yazdi.

 

6. “Install the software before connecting the Logitech camera to your computer.”

 

7. If you want the motion-sensing feature on the webcam to work, you have to install the software first.

 

8. You’ll get more out of the exercises if you go through each set more than once, especially if you keep notes of your thoughts on each one as you read it.

 

9. It’s not that hard to make up your own examples of these non-arguments. I just came up with these since John asked about more.

 

10. It’s more difficult to find really straightforward examples in print because it can be hard to be sure of the intention of the writer from just a single sentence. Often you have to read a whole paragraph, and then reread it, and by then, you might be getting tired of focusing on it and want to move on.

 

11. What you should get in the habit of doing is scanning passages for key words, no matter what you are reading: words like “if,” “thus,” “for,” “because,” “for instance,” “so,” and so on. Whenever you spot one you should make yourself pause on it and explain what it is doing in that occurrence.

 

12. An editorial in today’s Post says that the events in Iran are encouraging because they indicate that the theocratic regime is losing its stability to some degree.

 

13. What makes the Iranian government a theocracy is that their leadership’s authority claims to be an expression of the will of their god, or their holy scriptures, or their religious leaders.

 

14. Whenever you see “so” you should pause long enough to consider whether it is introducing a conclusion or whether it is doing something else, because it has so many other uses too.

 

15. So I think it’s about time for a bite to eat. Wegman’s is a good choice.

 

16. But the simplicity of the representation of a subject is not, alone, knowledge of the simplicity of the subject itself, for we abstract altogether from its properties when we designate it solely by the entirely empty expression “I,” an expression which I can apply to every thinking subject.  –Kant, Critique of Pure Reason

 

17. To many people the acme of the uncanny is represented by anything to do with death, dead bodies, spirits, and ghosts. Indeed, we have heard that in some modern languages the German phrase ein unheimliches Haus [an uncanny house] can be rendered only by the periphrasis “a haunted house.”  Freud, The Uncanny, p. 148

18. In hardly any other sphere has our thinking and feeling changed so little since primitive times…as in our relation to death.  Two factors account for this lack of movement: the strength of our original emotional reactions and the uncertainty of our scientific knowledge.  –Freud, The Uncanny (p. 148)

19. It is true that in textbooks on logic the statement that “all men are mortal” passes for an exemplary general proposition, but it is obvious to no one; our unconscious is still as unreceptive as ever to the idea of our own mortality.  Ibid.

20. Since nearly all of us still think no differently from savages in this subject, it is not surprising that the primitive fear of the dead is still so potent in us and ready to manifest itself if given any encouragement.  Ibid.

21. “There are a lot of people like me who should come back to the Democratic Party, and you should be grateful for that, since you’re a loyal Democrat,” Webb told Miller. (Webb and Miller are the two Democratic challengers to George Allen). Free-Lance Star, 5/20/06, p. B3.

22. Seventeen million gallons of raw sewage spilled into the Potomac River yesterday after a three-hour power failure at the regional Blue Plains sewage treatment plant, with both the cause and the impact of the accident in dispute. Washington Post. 5/20/06, p. B 10.

23. Long overshadowed by the Christian right, religious liberals across a wide swath of denominations are engaged today in their most intensive bout of political organizing and alliance-building since the Civil Rights and anti-Vietnam War movements of the 1960’s –Washington Post, 5/20/06 p. A1

24. The percentage of babies born slightly early has been increasing steadily for more than a decade and is now at an all-time high. The increase is driven by a combination of social and medical trends, including the older age of many mothers, rising use of fertility treatments, and the decision by more women to choose when they will deliver. Ibid.

25. ACLU attorney Lutgens argued that any prayer would be unconstitutional because it would endorse a specific religion and religious views. “Judge blocks prayer at KY graduation,” Washington Post, 5/20/06, p, A 13.

26. The quickening pulse of the religious left is evident in myriad ways: More than a dozen books have been published in the past year decrying the religious right’s influence in politics…;Organizations and web sites that meld religion and liberal politics have mushroomed since the 2004 election… Washington Post, 5/20/06, p. A 14

27. If I were the Democrats, the last thing I would do is really try to mobilize these folks as a political force…because I think some of this is a real unhappiness with the whole business of politicizing religion,” said Mark Silk, Director of the Greenwood Center. Ibid.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Answers.

1. I thought I recognized the first guest on The Daily Show yesterday because it turns out he’s the brother of someone I work with.

Explanation: “because” introduces the reason why I thought I recognized him.

 

2. The events in Iran are encouraging because they indicate that the theocratic regime is losing its stability to some degree.

Argument. “because” introduces the premise.

 

3. The events in Iran are deeply disturbing because people are being killed.

Argument: the fact that people are being killed is put forth as a reason why you should believe that the events are disturbing. ?

Or Explanation: what is making the events disturbing is the fact that people are being killed.  ?

Which of these it is is not a simple fact; it depends on point of view, intention, context.

 

4. Hundreds of people have been arrested in the demonstrations.

Report.

 

5. You get better news from Jon Stewart than from Katie Couric, like last night’s report from inside Iran on Ibrahim Yazdi.

Illustration: a claim plus an example.

 

6. “Install the software before connecting the Logitech camera to your computer.”

Advice.

 

7. If you want the motion-sensing feature on the webcam to work, you have to install the software first.

Conditional statement, giving advice.

 

8. You’ll get more out of the exercises if you go through each set more than once, especially if you keep notes of your thoughts on each one as you read it.

Conditional statement (actually two with the same consequent “you’ll get more out of them” but different antecedents), containing advice.

 

9. It’s not that hard to make up your own examples of these non-arguments. I just came up with these since John asked about more.

Illustration

 

10. It’s more difficult to find really straightforward examples in print because it can be hard to be sure of the intention of the writer from just a single sentence. Often you have to read a whole paragraph, and then reread it, and by then, you might be getting tired of focusing on it and want to move on.

Explanation of what makes that difficult.

 

11. What you should get in the habit of doing is scanning passages for key words, no matter what you are reading: words like “if,” “thus,” “for,” “because,” “for instance,” “so,” and so on. Whenever you spot one you should make yourself pause on it and explain what it is doing in that occurrence.

Advice: you should do this.   Contains an illustration of key words.

 

12. An editorial in today’s Post says that the events in Iran are encouraging because they indicate that the theocratic regime is losing its stability to some degree.

Report of an argument.

 

13. What makes the Iranian government a theocracy is that their leadership’s authority claims to be an expression of the will of their god, or their holy scriptures, or their religious leaders.

Explication of “theocracy.”

 

14. Whenever you see “so” you should pause long enough to consider whether it is introducing a conclusion or whether it is doing something else, because it has so many other uses too.

Argument.

Premise: “So” has so many uses.

Conclusion: So whenever you see “so,” you should check for an argument.

 

15. So I think it’s about time for a bite to eat. Wegman’s is a good choice.

Opinion.

 

 

16. But the simplicity of the representation of a subject is not, alone, knowledge of the simplicity of the subject itself, for we abstract altogether from its properties when we designate it solely by the entirely empty expression “I,” an expression which I can apply to every thinking subject. –Kant.

Argument. Even if you cannot penetrate this thicket, you can spot the word “for” in the middle, and from there, you can get to work.  Is what precedes “for” a conclusion, and is what comes after it a premise?  Yes.

 

17. To many people the acme of the uncanny is represented by anything to do with death, dead bodies, spirits, and ghosts. Indeed, we have heard that in some modern languages the German phrase ein unheimliches Haus [an uncanny house] can be rendered only by the periphrasis “a haunted house.”  Freud, The Uncanny, p. 148

 

Illustration of the general claim that the uncanny suggests things related to death: example of “haunted” to translate “uncanny.”

 

 

18. In hardly any other sphere has our thinking and feeling changed so little since primitive times…as in our relation to death.  Two factors account for this lack of movement: the strength of our original emotional reactions and the uncertainty of our scientific knowledge.  –Freud, The Uncanny (p. 148)

Explanation of why our thinking has changed little: two factors explain it.

 

19. It is true that in textbooks on logic the statement that “all men are mortal” passes for an exemplary general proposition, but it is obvious to no one; our unconscious is still as unreceptive as ever to the idea of our own mortality.  Ibid.

Explanation of why it is obvious to no one, even though every one admits it as a general truth.

Or is it an argument? Is his point to convince us that (despite what we want to say consciously, namely, everyone knows that everyone dies), we do not really believe we will.

The correct answer depends on whether you take “No one really believes that he/ she is going to really die” as something to be explained (but is already understood and believed) or as something we need to be convinced of.

 

20. Since nearly all of us still think no differently from savages in this subject, it is not surprising that the primitive fear of the dead is still so potent in us and ready to manifest itself if given any encouragement.  Ibid.

Explanation of why it is not surprising that the fear of the dead arises in us very readily.  Explanans: we still think like savages in this subject.

 

 

21. “There are a lot of people like me who should come back to the Democratic Party, and you should be grateful for that, since you’re a loyal Democrat,” Webb told Miller. (Webb and Miller are the two Democratic challengers to George Allen). Free-Lance Star, 5/20/06, p. B3.

Argument

 

22. Seventeen million gallons of raw sewage spilled into the Potomac River yesterday after a three-hour power failure at the regional Blue Plains sewage treatment plant, with both the cause and the impact of the accident in dispute. Washington Post. 5/20/06, p. B 10.

Report and explanation of the spillage.

 

23. Long overshadowed by the Christian right, religious liberals across a wide swath of denominations are engaged today in their most intensive bout of political organizing and alliance-building since the Civil Rights and anti-Vietnam War movements of the 1960’s –Washington Post, 5/20/06 p. A1

Report.  Note the use of “since” here.  It does not indicate a premise, or an explanans, but it used in the temporal sense –it refers to the passage of time.

 

24. The percentage of babies born slightly early has been increasing steadily for more than a decade and is now at an all-time high. The increase is driven by a combination of social and medical trends, including the older age of many mothers, rising use of fertility treatments, and the decision by more women to choose when they will deliver. Ibid.

Explanation

25. ACLU attorney Lutgens argued that any prayer would be unconstitutional because it would endorse a specific religion and religious views. “Judge blocks prayer at KY graduation,” Washington Post, 5/20/06, p, A 13.

(Report of) argument

 

26. The quickening pulse of the religious left is evident in myriad ways: More than a dozen books have been published in the past year decrying the religious right’s influence in politics…;Organizations and web sites that meld religion and liberal politics have mushroomed since the 2004 election… Washington Post, 5/20/06, p. A 14

Illustration of the opening claim.

27. If I were the Democrats, the last thing I would do is really try to mobilize these folks as a political force…because I think some of this is a real unhappiness with the whole business of politicizing religion,” said Mark Silk, Director of the Greenwood Center. Ibid.

Argument.  Note that the conclusion is a conditional statement.

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