Conclusion Identification Exercises

I. Read over the following set of proposed definitions of “argument.” Decide which ones are in error, and what is wrong in each case. Are any of them correct.?

1. An argument is a series of statements that claim something is true.

2. An argument is a sentence of several statements that prove one of them is true.

3. An argument is a series of assertions in which one is true because of the others.

4. An argument is a series of sentences one of which proves the others.

5. An argument is a set of claims that claims that one of the claims is true as a result of the others.

6. An argument is a series of sentences, one of which is supposed to be true as a consequence of the others.

II. For each of the following, write down your analysis: what do you say the conclusion is, and how many premises do you think there are?

But: one of these passages is not an argument. Which one?

1. The Interpretation of Dreams was Freud’s very first book, so the ideas in it don’t represent his mature thought.

 

2. To every existing thing God wills some good. Hence, since to love any thing is nothing else than to will good to that thing, it is manifest that God loves everything that exists.

 

3. Dinner must be ready. After all, the table’s all set.

 

4. Since Lyme’s Disease is transmitted by ticks, it’s kind of risky to wear shorts when you walk in high grass.

 

5. It’s going to rain tonight because the announcer on the radio said so.

 

6. John must be allergic to eggplant. He gets sick whenever he eats it.

 

7. Ellen’s been getting A’s in all her classes, so her parents think she’ll graduate with Honors.

 

8. Structuralism treats the collection of signs as a closed and autonomous system of internal dependencies. It follows from this that for structuralism a sign must not be defined in terms of some object for which it stands, but rather in terms of its relation to all other signs of the same level within the system of which it is part. (Thompson, Critical Hermeneutics, p. 48.)

 

9. Because Nature is there to be used by human beings, we have the right to exploit natural resources and engage in development. (Lakoff, Whose Freedom? p. 104)

 

10. You can’t use “they” to refer back to single individuals, because “they” is plural.

 

11. When you say something about a word, but you don’t put the word in quotation marks, you overlook the distinction between using a word and mentioning it. For instance, if you write they is plural, instead of “they” is plural, it makes no sense.

 

12. Psychoanalysis may not explain Leonardo’s artistry, but it helps us to understand its manifestations and its limitations. For it seems as though only a man who had had Leonardo’s childhood expriences would have been capable of painting the Mona Lisa and St. Anne and Two Others. (Freud, Leonardo Da Vinci and a Memory of his Childhood)

 

13. As long as I look at this table, I cannot form an image of Pierre; but if all at once the irreal Pierre surges up before me, the table that is under my eyes vanishes, leaves the scene. So these two objects, the real table and the irreal Pierre can only alternate as correlates of radically distinct consciousnesses. (Sartre, The Imaginary, p. 120)

 

14. The truth, then, that there is a divine providence presiding over the events of the world, corresponds to the stated principle (that Reason rules the world), for divine providence is wisdom with infinite power, realizing its own ends. (Hegel, Introduction to the Philosophy of History)

 

15. America is therefore the land of the future. In the time to come, the center of world-historical importance will be reflected there –perhaps in a conflict between North and South America. It is the land of longing for all those who are weary of the historic arsenal that is old Europe. America must separate itself from the ground upon which the world’s history has taken place until now. (Hegel, ibid)

 

 

Answers to the exercises

I. Read over the following set of proposed definitions of “argument.” Decide which ones are in error, and what is wrong in each case. Are any of them correct?

1. An argument is a series of statements that claim something is true.

Not good enough. But it is true that statements claim something is true, so at least the verb is correctly conjugated for “statements.”   If “claim” were replaced with “claims,” so the subject of the verb was “a series” instead of “statements,” would that make it ok?  No, because you haven’t said enough if all you say is that the series claims something is true, just as you haven’t said enough if you only say that the statements claim something is true.

 

2. An argument is a sentence of several statements that prove one of them is true.

Not good enough: it could be one sentence, but need not be. An argument may or may not prove what it purports to prove.

 

3. An argument is a series of assertions in which one is true because of the others.

This would be true of a good argument, but not of all arguments.

 

4. An argument is a series of sentences one of which proves the others.

Same remark as for #3; also, “sentences” is too broad; they must be sentences that have truth-value.

 

5. An argument is a set of claims that claims that one of the claims is true as a result of the others.

Excellent. Why not say “the other claims” at the end, and get that word in there four times?

 

6. An argument is a series of sentences, one of which is supposed to be true as a consequence of the others.

Almost, but again, “sentences” is the wrong word; “statements” would make this perfect.

 

 

II. For each of the following, : what do you say the conclusion is, and how many premises do you think there are?   Note: It is not always the case –in fact it is usually not the case–that you can simply highlight a statement as the passage is given. It is very often necessary to paraphrase or restate the argument, break it apart and slightly reformulate the statements, to get a clean series of statements.

 

But: one of these passages is not an argument. Which one?

1. The Interpretation of Dreams was Freud’s very first book, so the ideas in it don’t represent his mature thought.

 

2. To every existing thing God wills some good. Hence, since to love any thing is nothing else than to will good to that thing, it is manifest that God loves everything that exists.

 

3. Dinner must be ready. After all, the table’s all set.

 

4. Since Lyme’s Disease is transmitted by ticks, it’s kind of risky to wear shorts when you walk in high grass.

 

5. It’s going to rain tonight because the announcer on the radio said so.

 

6. John must be allergic to eggplant. He gets sick whenever he eats it.

 

7. Ellen’s been getting A’s in all her classes, so her parents think she’ll graduate with Honors.

 

8. Structuralism treats the collection of signs as a closed and autonomous system of internal dependencies. It follows from this that for structuralism a sign must not be defined in terms of some object for which it stands, but rather in terms of its relation to all other signs of the same level within the system of which it is part. (Thompson, Critical Hermeneutics, p. 48.)

 

9. Because Nature is there to be used by human beings, we have the right to exploit natural resources and engage in development. (Lakoff, Whose Freedom? p. 104)

 

10. You can’t use “they” to refer back to single individuals, because “they” is plural.

 

11. When you say something about a word, but you don’t put the word in quotation marks, you overlook the distinction between using a word and mentioning it. For instance, if you write they is plural, instead of “they” is plural, it makes no sense.

This is not an argument. It’s what we call an illustration: it makes a claim and then gives an example, to help make the point clear.

 

12. Psychoanalysis may not explain Leonardo’s artistry, but it helps us to understand its manifestations and its limitations. For it seems as though only a man who had had Leonardo’s childhood expriences would have been capable of painting the Mona Lisa and St. Anne and Two Others. (Freud, Leonardo Da Vinci and a Memory of his Childhood)

 

13. As long as I look at this table, I cannot form an image of Pierre; but if all at once the irreal Pierre surges up before me, the table that is under my eyes vanishes, leaves the scene. So these two objects, the real table and the irreal Pierre can only alternate as correlates of radically distinct consciousnesses. (Sartre, The Imaginary, p. 120)

 

14. The truth, then, that there is a divine providence presiding over the events of the world, corresponds to the stated principle (that Reason rules the world), for divine providence is wisdom with infinite power, realizing its own ends. (Hegel, Introduction to the Philosophy of History)

 

15. America is therefore the land of the future. In the time to come, the center of world-historical importance will be reflected there –perhaps in a conflict between North and South America. It is the land of longing for all those who are weary of the historic arsenal that is old Europe. America must separate itself from the ground upon which the world’s history has taken place until now. (Hegel, ibid)

One Response to Conclusion Identification Exercises

  1. Kenneth Bernas says:

    I was unaware that,”Interpretations of Dreams,” was Freud’s first book.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *