3.3 Fifteen exercises (with answers)

3.3 Fifteen Exercises (and answers)

The following passages contain a mix of arguments and non arguments. Try to identify what each is.

A.

1. As an African-American woman, I disagree with Robinson’s condemnation of the Democratic Party’s front-runners. I only support Biden, not because the others are not bright and hard-working –they are–but because I and many Americans of color believe that only former vice-president Biden can repair the United States after the racist and sexist Trump administration. Washington Post letters. Jan 8, 2020

2. With Moscow behind him, Mr. Maduro will likely seek to stage new, rigged elections for the National Assembly, using former opposition legislators for cover. Washington Post editorial Jan 8 2020

3. At various times during the regime’s forty year history, officials of the Islamic Republic have considered destroying some of the pre-Islamic sites in the country. But they have not followed through with those plans because they know the public backlash would be too great. Washington Post, Column by Rezaian, Jan 8 2020

4. The secrecy would not be quite so alarming, perhaps, if the administration exhibited some measure of competence. Washington Post, Column by Milbank, Jan 8 2020

5. A panel of federal judges has thrown out the permit for a natural gas pumping station in the historic African-American community of Union Hill, saying state regulators failed to consider whether the facility would disproportionately affect a vulnerable population. Washington Post Jan 8 2020. p. B1

6. Members of two black Baptist churches formed an unlikely alliance with the residents of Yogaville, a nearby ashram, to oppose the projects. Together they have won national attention: last year former vice-president Al Gore and civil rights leader William Barber toured the site and called on Governor Northam to step in to stop the project. Washington Post Jan 8 2020 p. B 4

Answers to A

1. As an African-American woman, I disagree with Robinson’s condemnation of the Democratic Party’s front-runners. I only support Biden, not because the others are not bright and hard-working –they are–but because I and many Americans of color believe that only former vice-president Biden can repair the United States after the racist and sexist Trump administration. Washington Post letters. Jan 8, 2020
Explanation (Explanadum: “I support Biden.”

2. With Moscow behind him, Mr. Maduro will likely seek to stage new, rigged elections for the National Assembly, using former opposition legislators for cover. Washington Post editorial Jan 8 2020
Belief/ Opinion

3. At various times during the regime’s forty year history, officials of the Islamic Republic have considered destroying some of the pre-Islamic sites in the country. But they have not followed through with those plans because they know the public backlash would be too great. Washington Post, Column by Rezaian, Jan 8 2020
Explanation. (Explanandum: “they have not destroyed pre-Islamic sites”)

4. The secrecy would not be quite so alarming, perhaps, if the administration exhibited some measure of competence. Washington Post, Column by Milbank, Jan 8 2020
Conditional statement

5. A panel of federal judges has thrown out the permit for a natural gas pumping station in the historic African-American community of Union Hill, saying state regulators failed to consider whether the facility would disproportionately affect a vulnerable population. Washington Post Jan 8 2020. p. B1
Explanation (note that instead of “because,” this uses “saying” as a way of introducing the explanans).

6. Members of two black Baptist churches formed an unlikely alliance with the residents of Yogaville, a nearby ashram, to oppose the projects. Together they have won national attention: last year former vice-president Al Gore and civil rights leader William Barber toured the site and called on Governor Northam to step in to stop the project. Washington Post Jan 8 2020 p. B 4
Illustration of the national attention they have drawn.

B.
1. Conditionals are included in the list of non-arguments because they can feel like arguments.

 

2. “His position is that a priest cannot judge people coming up for Holy Communion because we do not know the status of their soul. The onus is on the individual to decide whether they’re fit to take Communion.” Washington Post, 5/17/06, A 8.

 

3. Nanotechnology encompasses a wide range of materials that, because of their small size, exhibit novel chemical or biological properties.

 

4.  If every person may have his own world -outlook, he may also have his own religion. This explains the proliferation of sects [in America], to the point of sheer craziness. (Hegel, Introduction to the Philosophy of History)

 

5. In my view, the American people deserve answers, not guesses. I have proposed that we obtain these answers in a responsible and bipartisan manner. –Conyers

 

6. I wouldn’t do that if I were you.

 

 

The rest of the examples in this set are drawn from Mark Twain’s book, Letters from the Earth.  7-10 are from Eve’s Diary; 11-15 are from Satan’s Letter X.

 

7. One day I noticed that William McKinley was not looking well. He is the original first lion, and has been a pet of mine from the beginning. I examined him, to see what was the matter with him, and found that a cabbage which he had not chewed, had stuck in his throat. I was unable to pull it out, so I took the broomstick and rammed it home. This relieved him. –Mark Twain, Eve’s Diary, Papers of the Adam Family. (p. 74, Letters from Earth).

8. I wanted to see the tree, so we had a pleasant long walk to where it stood alone in a secluded and lovely spot, and there we sat down and looked at it with interest. Adam said it was the tree of good and evil. –Eve’s Diary, p. 75

 

9. We brought various kinds of fishes ashore and turned them loose in the meadow, but in all cases they were a disappointment—no legs came. It was strange; we could not understand it. Within a week they had all wandered back to the water, and seemed better satisfied there. We took this as evidence that fish as a rule do not care for the land. –Eve’s Diary, p. 78

 

10. With all of Cain’s brightness, he cannot learn to spell. Now that is like his father, who is the brightest of us all, yet whose orthography is just a calamity. I can spell, and so can Abel. These several facts prove nothing, for one cannot deduce a principle from so few examples, but they do at least indicate that the ability to learn to spell correctly is a gift; that it is born in a person, and is a sign of intellectual inferiority. –Eve’s Diary, p 79.

 

11.  In time, the Deity saw that death was a mistake; a mistake, in that it was insufficient; insufficient for the reason that, while it was an admirable agent for the inflicting of misery upon the survivor, it allowed the dead person himself to escape from all further persecution in the blessed refuge of the grave. This was not satisfactory. A way must be contrived to pursue the dead beyond the tomb. –Letters from the Earth, Letter X, p. 46

 

12. Now here is a curious thing. It is believed by everybody that while he was in heaven he was stern, hard, resentful, jealous, and cruel; but that when he came down to Earth and assumed the name Jesus Christ, he became the opposite of what he was before: that is to say, he became sweet, and gentle, merciful, forgiving, and all harshness disappeared from his nature and a deep and yearning love for his poor human children took its place. Whereas it was as Jesus Christ that he devised hell and proclaimed it! Ibid.

 

13. No, he would not have it so; he would save half a dozen and try the race over again. He was not able to foresee that it would go rotten again, for he is only the Far-Sighted One in his advertisements. Ibid. p. 26

 

14. You must understand that when Adam ate the apple in the Garden and learned how to multiply and replenish, the other animals learned the Art, too, by watching Adam. It was cunning of them, it was neat; for they got all that was worth having out of the apple without tasting it and afflicting themselves with the disastrous Moral Sense, the parent of all the immoralities. Ibid., p.

 

15. He has one code of morals for himself, and quite another for his children. He requires his children to deal justly—and gently—with offenders, and forgive them seventy-and-seven times; whereas he deals neither justly nor gently with anyone, and he did not forgive the ignorant and thoughtless first pair of juveniles even for their first offense and say, “You may go free this time, I will give you another chance.” Ibid p. 25

 

 

 

 

 

 

Answers to B. 

1. Conditionals are included in the list of non-arguments because they can feel like arguments.

Explanation of why conditionals are included.

This could be read as an argument if taken in the sense of: why conditionals should be included.

 

2. “His position is that a priest cannot judge people coming up for Holy Communion because we do not know the status of their soul. The onus is on the individual to decide whether they’re fit to take Communion.” Washington Post, 5/17/06, A 8.

Comment: Note the use of “their” in the first sentence and “they’re” in the second.  Also, strictly, this is a report of “his” argument, i.e., this passage itself is not an argument, but contains one, which it reports.

 

3. Nanotechnology encompasses a wide range of materials that, because of their small size, exhibit novel chemical or biological properties.

Explanation. This explains why these properties are novel.

 

4.  If every person may have his own world -outlook, he may also have his own religion. This explains the proliferation of sects [in America], to the point of sheer craziness. (Hegel, Introduction to the Philosophy of History)

Explanation of the crazy proliferation of religious sects in America.

 

5. In my view, the American people deserve answers, not guesses. I have proposed that we obtain these answers in a responsible and bipartisan manner. –Conyers

Opinion; he states his view, and offers no support for it.

 

6. I wouldn’t do that if I were you.

Warning or advice. Also, note that it is in the form of a conditional statement.

 

 

The rest of the examples in this set are drawn from Mark Twain’s Letters from the Earth.  7-10 are from Eve’s Diary; 11-15 are from Satan’s Letter X.

 

7. One day I noticed that William McKinley was not looking well. He is the original first lion, and has been a pet of mine from the beginning. I examined him, to see what was the matter with him, and found that a cabbage which he had not chewed, had stuck in his throat. I was unable to pull it out, so I took the broomstick and rammed it home. This relieved him. — Eve’s Diary, Papers of the Adam Family. (p. 74, Letters from Earth).

Report, but it contains an explanation (of William McKinley’s not looking well).

8. I wanted to see the tree, so we had a pleasant long walk to where it stood alone in a secluded and lovely spot, and there we sat down and looked at it with interest. Adam said it was the tree of good and evil. –Eve’s Diary, p. 75

Explanation. This gives the reason why they went to the see the tree.

 

9. We brought various kinds of fishes ashore and turned them loose in the meadow, but in all cases they were a disappointment—no legs came. It was strange; we could not understand it. Within a week they had all wandered back to the water, and seemed better satisfied there. We took this as evidence that fish as a rule do not care for the land. –Eve’s Diary, p. 78

Argument.

 

10. With all of Cain’s brightness, he cannot learn to spell. Now that is like his father, who is the brightest of us all, yet whose orthography is just a calamity. I can spell, and so can Abel. These several facts prove nothing, for one cannot deduce a principle from so few examples, but they do at least indicate that the ability to learn to spell correctly is a gift; that it is born in a person, and is a sign of intellectual inferiority. –Eve’s Diary, p 79.

Two arguments.

  1. Cain and Adam can’t spell, despite being bright. Eve and Abel can spell. This is too little to prove anything with certainty, therefore these facts prove nothing.
  2. Cain and Adam can’t spell, despite being bright. Eve and Abel can spell. So it is likely that the ability to learn to spell is an inborn gift and a mark of inferiority.

In the next chapter, the distinction between Deduction and Induction will shed some light on this odd example.

 

11.  In time, the Deity saw that death was a mistake; a mistake, in that it was insufficient; insufficient for the reason that, while it was an admirable agent for the inflicting of misery upon the survivor, it allowed the dead person himself to escape from all further persecution in the blessed refuge of the grave. This was not satisfactory. A way must be contrived to pursue the dead beyond the tomb. –Letters from the Earth, Letter X, p. 46

Two arguments.

  1. Death allows a person to escape suffering, therefore it is an insufficient punishment.
  2. Death is an insufficient punishment, therefore it was a mistake.

Note that the same statement functions here once as a premise and once as a conclusion.

 

12. Now here is a curious thing. It is believed by everybody that while he was in heaven he was stern, hard, resentful, jealous, and cruel; but that when he came down to Earth and assumed the name Jesus Christ, he became the opposite of what he was before: that is to say, he became sweet, and gentle, merciful, forgiving, and all harshness disappeared from his nature and a deep and yearning love for his poor human children took its place. Whereas it was as Jesus Christ that he devised hell and proclaimed it! Ibid.

Argument. The conclusion is not explicitly stated, but the effect of the passage is to have the reader draw it:  Jesus is not really sweet and merciful, but hard, resentful, jealous and cruel.

In the Hebrew Bible, God appears to be hard, resentful, jealous and cruel. But in the Hebrew Bible, there is no Hell or eternal punishment for temporary offences. In the New Testament, God appears to be sweet and merciful. But in the New Testament, he (God as Jesus) announces that there is a Hell for eternal punishment of the unworthy. Therefore Jesus is not really sweet and merciful, but hard, resentful, jealous and cruel.

 

13. No, he would not have it so; he would save half a dozen and try the race over again. He was not able to foresee that it would go rotten again, for he is only the Far-Sighted One in his advertisements. Ibid. p. 26

Explanation.

Explanandum: why God brought the flood, giving humanity a second try.

Explanans: He is not really omniscient (the Far-Sighted One).

 

14. You must understand that when Adam ate the apple in the Garden and learned how to multiply and replenish, the other animals learned the Art, too, by watching Adam. It was cunning of them, it was neat; for they got all that was worth having out of the apple without tasting it and afflicting themselves with the disastrous Moral Sense, the parent of all the immoralities. Ibid.

p1  Adam and Eve learned about sex by eating the apple and acquiring a moral sense (feeling of guilt).

p2  The animals watched Adam and Eve, but did not eat the apple and acquire a sense of guilt.

p3  Anyone who can reap the benefits of a situation without incurring the downside at the same time is cunning.

p4  The animals did just that.

 

C  The animals were cunning

 

 

15. He has one code of morals for himself, and quite another for his children. He requires his children to deal justly—and gently—with offenders, and forgive them seventy-and-seven times; whereas he deals neither justly nor gently with anyone, and he did not forgive the ignorant and thoughtless first pair of juveniles even for their first offense and say, “You may go free this time, I will give you another chance.” Ibid p. 25

This passage could also be read as an illustration of the opening claim, insofar as what follows it gives an example of the inconsistency.

 

 

Leave a Reply

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