- Study Chapter 6 (pages 190-195) of your text.
- Select a topic from the list below and construct an argument. Warning: Please make sure you work on one of the issues listed — no other arguments will be accepted!
- Make sure you fully understand what COMPLETENESS means (pages 186-7) OK, let me highlight a fundamentally important part of it:
You must look at and CONSIDER the opposing arguments (as every inductive argument must). It means that listing the counterarguments is not good enough; you have to say which premises you find true or strong (and why) and which ones you find false or weak (and why) — otherwise your argument would be one-sided. Obviously, accepting certain premises against our argument will not make it weaker since every issue is complex.
SAMPLE (tongue in cheek – sort of):
Issue: Is it OK to throw out the leftover fast food from my car after I finished my meal in the parking lot?
My conclusion: No, it is not OK
My premises (arguments/points/supporting evidence): 1. It looks disgusting and creates a mess for others. 2. It is hard to clean up after other vehicles drive over it and spread it around. 3. Cleaning up generates expenses, increasing the cost of the product. 4. It is unsanitary and attracts vermin, creating a health hazard.
Counterarguments/points/evidence I consider strong (but not stronger than my argument): 1. ‘I do not feel like getting out of my car and dispose of the leftovers properly.’ 2. ‘I don’t care, anyway (f. u.).’
Counterarguments/points/evidence I consider weak or false, and their refutation (why they are weak or false): 1. Some people say that food thrown away in the parking lot does not affect them at all. This claim is false; anyone can be affected negatively by rats and roaches, bacteria growing on rotten food, etc. (since no one is immune) so it is our common interest to keep those critters away as much as possible instead of feeding them. 2. Some people say that there are employees already whose job is to clean, so let them earn their salary. This is a weak argument because the less we mess up the place, the fewer people are needed to keep the parking lot clean. Also, the cost of cleanup may be reflected in the prices.
My conclusion restated: It is not OK to throw away leftover food in the parking lot.
- Strong feelings or even high passion are not elements of critical thinking only reason is, as well as factual information. Morality, religion, value judgments, desires, wishes, preferences, tastes, likes, and dislikes do not make good subjects for critical arguments! Why? Because others may have other dislikes and likes, tastes, preferences, wishes, desires, value judgments, religion or morality, and the answer to the question regarding those, ‘why do they prefer what they prefer instead of what we prefer’ the answer is ‘just because’ — end of the story.
Issues to choose from:
- Bullying is a problem in the USA and people tend to bully bullies as ‘punishment.’ Should bullies be bullied?
- Should school uniforms be mandated?
- Plastic bags are an enormously huge environmental problem and many countries (and cities) have banned them. Should they be banned in the US?
- Music and art may seem like ‘useless’ subjects in school, but research shows that they are useful in the development of youth. Should they be mandated in school?
- Should child beauty competitions be banned?
This short article may help: http://bigthink.com/in-their-own-words/how-to-have-a-good-argument-with-yourself