Evaluating Truth and Validity
Select three of the scenarios in the Applications list 12.2 (a.-y.) at the end of Ch. 12 in The Art of Thinking. Seen Below**
Apply the following in 350 to 500 words for each scenario:
- Evaluate each argument, using the 4-step process described on p. 218, regarding soundness of reasoning (truth and validity). Seen Below**
- Explain your assessment and add alternative argumentation where necessary.
- The Bible can’t be relevant to today’s problems; it was written many centuries ago and is filled with archaic phrasing.
- Challenging other people’s opinions is a sign of intolerance, so debating courses have no place on a college campus.
- It’s ridiculous to think that there will be fewer deaths if we ban handguns. Handguns don’t kill people;people kill people.
Steps in Evaluating an Argument
The following four steps are an efficient way to apply what you learned in this chapter—in other words, to evaluate your argument and overcome any errors in validity or truth that it may contain.
1. State your argument fully, as clearly as you can. Be sure to identify any hidden premises and, if the argument is complex, to express all parts of it.
2. Examine each part of your argument for errors affecting truth. (To be sure your examination is not perfunctory, play devil’s advocate and challengethe argument, asking pointed questions about it, taking nothing for granted.) Note any instances of either/or thinking, avoiding the issue, overgeneralizing, oversimplifying, double standard, shifting the burden of proof, or irrational appeal. In addition, check to be sure that the argument reflects the evidence found in your investigation (see Chapter 8) and is relevant to the pro and con arguments and scenarios you produced earlier (see Chapter 9).
3. Examine your argument for validity errors; that is, consider the reasoning that links conclusions to premises. Determine whether your conclusion is legitimate or illegitimate.
4. If you find one or more errors, revise your argument to eliminate them. The changes you will have to make in your argument will depend on the kinds of errors you find. Sometimes, only minor revision is called for—the adding of a simple qualification, for example, or the substitution of a rational appeal for an irrational one. Occasionally, however, the change required is more dramatic. You may, for example, find your argument so flawed that the only appropriate action is to abandon it altogether and embrace a different argument. On those occasions, you may be tempted topretend your argument is sound and hope no one will notice the errors. Resist that hope. It is foolish as well as dishonest to invest time in refining a view that you know is unsound.