The conclusion of the argument is the Maldives are at danger if oceans rise

general article writing

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PHL233—A1

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1. What is the conclusion of this argument?

If sea levels rise dramatically then some low islands are at danger of disappearing. The Maldives are

coral islands in the Indian Ocean none of which are more than six feet above sea level. Islands whose

highest points are less than three meters above sea level are low islands. The Maldives are at

danger if oceans rise, for six feet is obviously less than three meters.

a. If sea levels rise dramatically then some low islands are at danger of disappearing.

b. The Maldives are coral islands in the Indian Ocean none of which are more than six feet

above sea level.

c. Islands whose highest points are less than three meters above sea level are low islands.

d. The Maldives are at danger if oceans rise.

e. Six feet is obviously less than three meters.

2. Read or listen to Patrick Henry’s ‘Give Me Liberty’ speech. Identify and reconstruct at least one of

Henry’s arguments. Put it into standard form, paraphrasing and adding premises if necessary. You

can find the text and audio of the speech here:

http://www.history.org/almanack/life/politics/giveme.cfm

3. Reconstruct (but don’t evaluate) the arguments at the end of Supplemental Reading: Introduction to

Arguments. Put the arguments into standard form, adding premises where necessary. The

arguments are repeated here for convenience:

A. We have an obligation to do whatever our employer tells us to do. This is clear because

employees are the property of employers. Also, property is controlled by its owner and people

have to do something if they are controlled to do it.

B. We discover our moral obligations by looking at the animal kingdom. Whatever the animal

kingdom does is natural. So, we have a moral obligation to do what is natural. Chemotherapy is

not natural. Therefore, we have a moral obligation to avoid chemotherapy.

C. If Keynes is right then governments should spend more in a recession. But obviously,

governments should not spend more in a recession; they should spend less. So, Keynes is wrong.

D. Shamu is a whale; so Shamu is a mammal. Since mammals bear live young, Shamu bears live

young.

E. Alberto Gonzales said that the U.S. cannot wait for another terrorist attack. If we can’t wait for

something then we eagerly anticipate it. So if Gonzales was right then the U.S. eagerly

anticipates a terrorist attack.

F. Karen would like nothing more than for her son to come home for Christmas. Karen’s son did

nothing for her for Christmas. Consequently, Karen liked what she got from her son more than

she would have liked his coming home.


4. Consider the following argument and say which sentence is a sub-conclusion (both a premise and a

conclusion).

There is substantial evidence that Abner Doubleday did not invent baseball. He made no mention of

it in his many letters and papers. He certainly would have mentioned the sport if he had invented it.

Furthermore, the first recorded attribution of the sport’s invention to Doubleday—a 1908

commission report—claimed that Doubleday invented the sport in Cooperstown in 1839. However,

he was enrolled at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point (>150 mi. trip) at that time and there is

no evidence that he obtained leave. The current Major League Baseball commissioner, Bud Selig,

believes that Doubleday did invent the game. Since there is evidence that Doubleday did not invent

the sport and Bud Selig still believes that he did, Bud Selig is an idiot.

a. There is evidence that Abner Doubleday did not invent baseball.

b. He made no mention of it in his many letters and papers.

c. He would have mentioned the sport if he had invented it.

d. Bud Selig believes that Doubleday did invent the game.

e. Bud Selig is an idiot.


5. In his 2008 movie Religulous, Bill Maher argues that the U.S.’s founding fathers weren’t as religious

as they’re taken to be. In defense he mentions that John Adams said


(A) This would be the best of all possible worlds if there were no religion in it.

The quote is taken from an 1817 letter to Thomas Jefferson in which Adams says

(B) Twenty times in the course of my late Reading, have I been upon the point of

breaking out “This would be the best of all possible Worlds if there were no Religion

in it”!!! But in this exclamation I should have been as fanatical as Bryant or Cleverly.

Without Religion this World would be Something not fit to mention in polite

company, I mean Hell.


The longer quotation from Adams reveals a point much different from what’s implied by the

shorter one. Is it possible to criticize the evidence that Maher offers for his conclusion? Why?

a. No. The movie is billed as a comedy and it is inappropriate to critically analyze a comedy

since the claims are not intended to be taken seriously.

b. No. (A) is contained in (B) so it is not possible to say (B) without saying (A). Since Adams

said (B) it follows that Adams said (A). So it is appropriate to say that he said (A).

c. Yes. It would only be evidence that Adams wasn’t religious if he had used sentence (A).

Instead he mentioned sentence (A).

d. Yes. Maher has a history of mocking religion by employing deceptive tactics and misleading

editing. This is just another example.

e. Yes and no. Maher is not a credible authority on the words of John Adams. We have little

reason to think that an entertainer like Maher would quote Adams correctly. So we

shouldn’t accept his evidence but we also shouldn’t hold him to too high a standard.

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