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Lecture 10: Analyzing Arguments – Summarizing Longer Arguments.

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1 Lecture 10: Analyzing Arguments – Summarizing Longer Arguments

2 Purpose: to provide a synopsis of the argument that accurately restates the main points in the summarizer’s own words. Standardization = a method for summarizing longer arguments. Two important skills of argument analysis 1. paraphrasing, and 2. finding missing premises and conclusions.

3 Paraphrasing Paraphrase: a detailed restatement of a passage using different words and phrases. A good paraphrase is – Accurate – Clear – Concise – Charitable

4 A Good Paraphrase is Accurate Original: Europe has a set of primary interests, which to us have none, or a very remote relation. Hence, she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves, by artificial ties in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendship or enmities. (George Washington, ‘Farewell Address,’ 1796)

5 A Good Paraphrase is Accurate Paraphrase 1: Europe’s vital interests are totally different from ours. For this reason European nations will often become embroiled in conflicts that don’t concern us. Therefore, we shouldn’t become involved in Europe’s political affairs. Paraphrase 2: Europe has a set of vital interests that are of little or no concern to us. For this reason, European nations will often become embroiled in conflicts for reasons that don’t concern us. Therefore, we shouldn’t form artificial ties that would get us involved in the ordinary ups and downs of European politics.

6 A Good Paraphrase is Clear Original: The patient exhibited symptoms of an edema in the occipital-parietal region and an abrasion on the left patella. Paraphrase: The patient had a bump on the back of his head and a scrape on his left knee. Original: High-quality learning environments are a necessary precondition for facilitation and enhancement of the ongoing learning process. Paraphrase: Children need good schools if they are to learn properly.

7 A Good Paraphrase is Clear Original: ‘It was the nocturnal segment of the diurnal period preceding the annual Yuletide celebration that through our place of residence, kinetic activity was not in evidence among the organic possessors of this potential, including the species of diminutive rodent known as Mus Musculus. Paraphrase: ‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

8 A Good Paraphrase is Concise Original: The office wasn’t open at that point in time, owing to the fact that there was no electrical power in the building. (22 words) Paraphrase: The office was closed then because there was no electricity in the building. (13 words)

9 A Good Paraphrase is Concise Original: Macbeth was very ambitious. This led him to wish to become king of Scotland. The witches told him that this wish of his would come true. The king of Scotland at this time was Duncan. Encouraged by his wife,, Macbeth murdered Duncan. He was thus enabled to succeed Duncan as king. (51 words) Paraphrase: Encouraged by his wife, Macbeth achieved his ambition and realized the prediction of the witches by murdering Duncan and becoming King of Scotland in his place. (26 words)

10 A Good Paraphrase is Charitable Principle of charity: Interpret the passage as charitably as the evidence reasonably permits. Original: You know as well as I do that you can’t get a good job today unless you have a college degree. So, I hope you’ll rethink your decision not to go to college. Paraphrase 1: No one can get a good job today unless they have a college degree, so I hope you’ll rethink your decision not to go to college. Paraphrase 2: It’s very difficult to get a good job today unless one has a college degree, so I hope you’ll rethink your decision not to go to college.

11 Practice Critical Thinking, p. 179, Exercise 7.2

12 Finding Missing Premises & Conclusions Store Clerk: I’m sorry. I can’t sell you any beer; you’re under twenty-one. Advertisement: The bigger the burger, the better the burger. Burgers are bigger at Burger King. Sally can’t drive because she doesn’t have a drivers license. Often used to conceal a weak argument. – She’s Cuban. So She’s probably hot tempered.

13 Finding Missing Premises & Conclusions An argument with a missing premise or conclusion is called an enthymeme. Two basic rules for filing in missing steps in enthymemes. 1)Faithfully interpret the arguer’s intentions: ask what else the arguer must assume – that he does not say – to reach his conclusion. 2)Be charitable: Be as generous in interpreting other people’s incompletely stated arguments as you would like them to be in interpreting your own.

14 Practice Critical Thinking, p. 181-82, Exercise 7.3

15 Summarizing Extended Arguments Standardization – restating an argument in standard logical form. An argument is said to be in standard logical form when each step in the argument is numbered consecutively, premises are stated above the conclusions they are claimed to support, and justifications are provided for each conclusion in the argument.

16 Steps in Standardizing an Argument 1.Identify the main conclusion. 2.Omit any unnecessary or irrelevant material. 3.Number the steps in the argument and order them with premises above conclusions. State the main conclusion last. 4.Fill in any key missing premises or conclusions. 5.Add parenthetical justifications for each conclusion in the argument.

17 Steps in Standardizing an Argument Argument: The desire for perfect happiness is inborn in all of us, it is a universal human longing, it is rooted in human nature. But everything that is in human nature has been put there by God. In His Wisdom and Goodness, he could not have implanted a natural longing that was impossible to fulfill. Therefore, there must exist, somehow, a real perfect happiness which is within the capacity of struggling men to attain.

18 Steps in Standardizing an Argument Step 1: Paraphrase the arguments as concisely as the arguer’s intent allows. 1) The desire for perfect happiness is inborn in all of us, 2) It is a universal human longing, 3) It is rooted in human nature. The desire for perfect happiness is a natural longing, inborn in all human beings.

19 Steps in Standardizing an Argument Step 2: Number the statements and list them in logical order 1) The desire for perfect happiness is a natural longing, inborn in all human beings. 2) But everything that is in human nature has been put there by God. 3) In His Wisdom and Goodness, God could not have implanted a natural longing that was impossible to fulfill. 4) Therefore, it must be possible for human beings to achieve perfect happiness.

20 Steps in Standardizing an Argument Step 3: Check to see whether any of the steps in the argument are unnecessary or irrelevant. If there are, delete them. Step 4: Check to see whether there are any crucial premises or conclusions missing in the argument. If so, supply them.

21 Steps in Standardizing an Argument Step 5: Add justification to indicate which premises are intended to support which conclusions. 1) The desire for perfect happiness is a natural longing, inborn in all human beings. 2) But everything that is in human nature has been put there by God. 3) In His Wisdom and Goodness, God could not have implanted a natural longing that was impossible to fulfill. 4) Therefore, it must be possible for human beings to achieve perfect happiness. (from 1-3)

22 Steps in Standardizing an Argument Argument: We can see something only after it has happened. Future events, however, have not yet happened. So, seeing a future event seems to imply both that it has and has not happened, and that’s logically impossible.

23 Steps in Standardizing an Argument Steps 1 & 2: Identifying premises and conclusions: 1)We can see something only after it has happened. 2)Future events have not yet happened. 3)So, seeing a future event seems to imply both that it has and has not happened. 4)It is logically impossible for an event both to have happened and not to have happened.

24 Steps in Standardizing an Argument Steps 3 & 4: Check for any irrelevant statements; check for any important premises or conclusions missing in the argument. Missing conclusion: It is logically impossible to see a future event.

25 Steps in Standardizing an Argument Step 5: Add missing premises / conclusions to the argument [in brackets] and add parenthetical justifications to indicate which premises support which conclusions. 1)We can see something only after it has happened. 2)Future events have not yet happened. 3)So, seeing a future event seems to imply both that it has and has not happened. (from 1-2) 4)It is logically impossible for an event both to have happened and not to have happened. 5)[Therefore, it is logically impossible to see a future event.] (from 3-4)

26 Common Mistakes to Avoid in Standardizing Arguments 1.Don’t write in incomplete sentences. Examples: a. Because animals can experience pain and suffering (incorrect) Therefore, it’s wrong to kill or mistreat animals. (from a) b.Animals can experience pain and suffering. (correct) Therefore, it’s wrong to kill or mistreat animals. (from a)

27 Common Mistakes to Avoid in Standardizing Arguments 2.Don’t include more than one statement per line. Examples: a.The President should resign, since he no longer enjoys the confidence of the Board of Trustees. (from a, incorrect) b.The president no longer enjoys the confidence of the Board of Trustees. Therefore, he should resign. (from a, correct)

28 Common Mistakes to Avoid in Standardizing Arguments 3. Don’t include anything that is not a statement. Examples: a. It’s all the same whether there’s a Democrat or a Republican in the White House. Therefore, why should I care about presidential politics? (from a, incorrect) b. It’s all the same whether there’s a Democrat or a Republican in the White House. Therefore, I have no reason to care about presidential politics. (from a, correct)

29 Common Mistakes to Avoid in Standardizing Arguments 4)Don’t include anything that is not a premise or a conclusion. Examples: a.Many people today argue that capital punishment is morally wrong. (incorrect) b.But the Good Book says, ‘an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.’ c.What the Good Book says is true. d.Therefore, capital punishment is not morally wrong (from b-c)

30 Practice Critical Thinking, p. 188-193, Exercise 7.4


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