Exercise 1

Exercise 1
If you haven’t done so already, read the post ‘What is an argument?’ before trying this exercise.

Try to answer each one before looking over at the answer page. 🙂

Each of the following contains an argument. Identify the premises and conclusions. Note that not all the sentences in an argumentative passage need be either a premise or a conclusion. Often, when we present an argument, we include comments that play no argumentative role.

a.
I had a lecture with Professor Jones this morning. He must have a cold. He was coughing throughout the whole lecture.

Claim:
Premise:

b.
Nation-state politics makes solutions to global problems impossible to achieve. If we continue to bicker over policies concerning global problems, it will soon be too late to do anything about them. Therefore, we must start negotiating towards the establishment of a world government.

Claim:
Premise 1:
Premise 2:

c.
If Mill is wrong, then Kant could be right, and if Aristotle is wrong we will have to reconsider Plato. That’s a real worry. Since it seems sure that either Mill or Aristotle is wrong, it looks as if we will either have to reconsider Kant or reconsider Plato.
[*Notice that the claim and all the premises are open conditionals.]

Claim:
Premise 1:
Premise 2:
Premise 3:

d.

Everybody is free to make their own health and diet choices. Any kind of food, not just fast food, can be dangerous if eaten excessively. This is common sense. Therefore, people do not need to be told what to eat.

Claim:
Premise 1:
Premise 2:

e.
Nothing prepares you for the devastation caused by a tsunami or a tornado, and floods in Bangladesh or droughts in Darfur are, of course, tragic. Even so, the fact is the world is overpopulated precisely because we have been interfering with nature. Science has helped us to grow more food and cure more sick people than ever before.

Claim:
Premise:

f.
It is important to develop critical thinking skills. Independent thinkers approach everything with a healthy dose of scepticism tempered with the humility that there is still much to learn. However, there is more falsehood, fallacy and foolishness being promoted nowadays than ever before, largely though open data channels like the internet. It is imperative that one develops the intellectual skills to recognise and expose such nonsense, which always poses a danger to someone, if not oneself.

Claim:
Premise 1:
Premise 2:

g.
The following in an excerpt from Al Gore’s documentary ‘An Inconvenient Truth’. Identify the main claim and premises. The third premise is given in order to help you.

“We are witnessing a collision between our civilization and the Earth. There are three factors that are causing this collision, and the first is population. When my generation, the baby boom generation, was born after World War II, the population [of the world] had just crossed the 2 billion mark. Now, I’m in my 50s, and it’s already gone to 6.5 billion, and if I reach the demographic expectation for the baby boomers, it’ll go over nine billion. So if it takes 10,000 generations to reach two billion and then in one human lifetime – ours – it goes from two billion to nine billion, something profoundly different is going on right now. We’re putting more pressure on the Earth. Most of its in the poorer nations of the world. This puts pressure on food demand. It puts pressure on water demand. These in turn put pressure on vulnerable natural resources, and this pressure is one of the reasons why we have seen all the devastation of the forest, not only tropical, but elsewhere.”

Claim:
Premise 1:
Premise 2:
Premise 3: Premise two is one of the reasons for the devastation of the forests.

Have a look at the answers or continue reading

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