Ex 7 Answer

If you haven’t done so already, read the post ‘Resisting Persuasion’ and try Exercise 7. Below is the answer:

What kind of argument is it?
That depends on what you think the claim is.
It is tempting to think that the claim is “the squares on the two sides of a right-angled triangle are equal to the square on the hypotenuse”. If so, that argument would be deductive and the theorem would be deductively shown (or proven) in the text.

What is the claim?

However, that is not really the author’s claim. There is a more subtle manipulation of the reader going on here, and that is that the author’s claim is really: Pythagoras was the first person to prove the theorem. Read the first sentence of the argument again.

But was he? Some say Pythagoras’ theorem was already known to the pyramid-building Egyptians; others disagree. The point for us, as critical readers of this text, is that the claim ‘Pythagoras proved that…’ is unsupported. It amounts to no more than an assertion. It does not even amount to an argument from authority, for the author of the text does not give any authority to support the claim.

Is it a good or a bad argument?
The text provides a proof of something we might call ‘Pythagoras’ Theorem’ (good), but it only provides an assertion (bad, or technically, not an argument at all) for the claim that credit for the theorem belongs to Pythagoras.

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