Focus on Arguments

Prompt: Explain and critically evaluate an argument of your own.

The paper should be organized as follows, with each part explicitly numbered.

Part 1:
Construct a valid argument using one of the VALID ARGUMENT FORMS (see next page—there are six you can choose from). Please make clear which form you are using by clearly indicating its roman numeral.

Part 2:
Explain the argument you have constructed. Ideally you want to persuade the reader that each premise is true and show her why the conclusion follows. In some cases, this might just involve citing a fact (whales are mammals, after all), and so the explanation will be quite quick. But try to pick argument terms so that at least one premise is controversial and needs a little defending (such as all intentional killings are murder).

Part 3:
Explain one objection that you or someone else might have to your argument. (Duck-billed platypus are mammals that lay eggs. Some murders are not wrong.) Your aim in explaining this objection is to be as persuasive as possible. Note that all argument forms are valid so the objection shouldn’t focus on questions of logical correctness. Instead, it should concern the truth/plausibility of one of the premises.

Part 4:
Is this objection a good one? Settle the debate for reader: explain as persuasively as possible why your own view is the best one to have.

VALID ARGUMENT FORMS
Pick ONE of the following:

(Where A and B are variables standing for the general terms and A is replaced by the same general term, B is replaced by the same general term, and so on.)
I)
All A’s are B’s.
All B’s are C’s.
So all A’s are C’s.

Examples of I:
All whales are mammals. All intentional killings are murder.
All mammals give live birth. All murders are wrong.
So, all whales give live birth. So, all intentional killings are wrong.

II) III)
All A’s are B’s All A’s are B’s
Some B’s are C’s. No B’s are C’s
So some A’s are C’s. So no A’s are C’s.

(Where p is replaced by the same complete grammatical sentence and q is replace by the same complete grammatical sentence)
IV)
If p then q
p
So q

Examples of IV:
If whales are mammals, then If intentional killing is murder, then
Shamu is a mammal. intentional killing is wrong.
Whales are mammals. Intentional killing is murder.
So Shamu is a mammal So intentional killing is wrong.

V) VI)
p or q If p then q
It is not the case that p It is not the case that q
So q So it is not the case that p

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