I would like to request your help in my week seven assignment in my critical thinking course.
Given the premises, discuss whether the conclusion of each argument that
follows is (a) true beyond a reasonable doubt, (b) probably true, or (c) possibly
true or possibly false. You should expect disagreement on these items, but the
closer your answers are to your instructor's, the better. Explanation for your answer, will be awarded partial credit.
2. The annual rainfall in California's north valley averages twenty-three
inches. So the rainfall next year will be twenty-three inches.
3. You expect to get forty miles to the gallon in that? Why, that old wreck
has a monster V8; besides, it's fifty years old and needs an overhaul.
4. In three of the last four presidential races, the winner of the Iowa Republican
primary has not captured the Republican nomination. Therefore,
the winner of the next Iowa Republican primary will not capture the
6. The number of cellular telephones has increased dramatically in each of
the past few years. Therefore there will be even more of them in use this
7. Since the graduates of Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and other Ivy League
schools generally score higher on the Graduate Record Examination than
students from Central State, it follows that the Ivy League schools do
more toward educating their students than Central State does.
8. XXXXX XXXXX has had more plastic surgery than anybody else in
California. You can bet he's had more than anybody in Connecticut!
10. When liquor was banned in 1920, hospitalizations for alcoholism and
related diseases plummeted; in 1933, when Prohibition was repealed,
alcohol-related illnesses rose sharply again. Legalization of cocaine,
heroin, and marijuana would not curb abuse of those substances.
11. Relax. The kid's been delivering the paper for, how long? Three, four
years maybe? And not once has she missed us. The paper will be here,
just wait and see. She's just been delayed for some reason.
I would also like to ask for your help on an assignment due this Sunday. Controlling Irrational Fears After 9/11*
We present this selection as an example of a fairly well-reasoned argumentative essay. There is more here than arguments-there's some window dressing and you'll probably find some slanters here and there as well. You should go through the selection and identify the issues, the positions taken on those issues, and the arguments offered in support of those arguments. Are any arguments from opposing points of view considered? What is your final assessment of the essay? The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, produced a response among American officials, the media, and the public that is probably matched only by the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Since it is the very nature of terrorism not only to cause immediate damage but also to strike fear in the hearts of the population under attack, one might say that the terrorists were extraordinarily successful, not just as a result of their own efforts but also in consequence of the American reaction. In this essay, I shall argue that this reaction was irrational to a great extent and that to that extent Americans unwittingly cooperated
with the terrorists in achieving a major goal: spreading fear and thus disrupting lives. In other words, we could have reacted more rationally and as a result produced less disruption in the lives of our citizens. There are several reasons why one might say that a huge reaction to the 9/11 attacks was justified. The first is simply the large number of lives that were lost. In the absence of a shooting war, that 2,800 Americans should die
from the same cause strikes us as extraordinary indeed. But does the sheer size of the loss of life warrant the reaction we saw? Clearly sheer numbers do not always impress us. It is unlikely, for example, that many Americans remember that, earlier in 2001, an earthquake in Gujarat, India, killed approximately 20,000 people. One might explain the difference in reaction by saying that we naturally respond more strongly to the deaths of Americans closer to home than to those of others halfway around the world. But then consider the fact that, every month during 2001 more Americans were killed in automobile crashes than were killed on 9/11 (and it has continued every month since
as well). Since the victims of car accidents come from every geographical area and every social stratum, one can say that those deaths are even "closer to home" than the deaths that occurred in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania. It may be harder to identify with an earthquake victim in Asia than with a 9/11 victim, but this cannot be said for the victims of fatal automobile accidents. One might say that it was the malice of the perpetrators that makes the 9/11 deaths so noteworthy, but surely there is plenty of malice present in the 15,000 homicides that occur every year in the United States. And while we have passed strict laws favoring prosecution of murderers, we do not see the
huge and expensive shift in priorities that has followed the 9/11 attacks. It seems clear, at least, that sheer numbers cannot explain the response to 9/11. If more reasons were needed, we might consider that the actual total of the number of 9/11 deaths seemed of little consequence in post-attack reports. Immediately after the attacks, the estimated death toll was about 6,500. Several weeks later it was clear that fewer than half that many had actually died, but was there a great sigh of relief when it was learned that over 3,000 people who were believed to have died were still alive? Not at all. In fact, well
after it was confirmed that no more than 3,000 people had died, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld still talked about "over 5,000" deaths on 9/11. So the actual number seems to be of less consequence than one might have believed. We should remember that fear and outrage at the attacks are only the beginning of the country's response to 9/11. We now have a new cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security; billions have been spent on beefing up security and in tracking terrorists and potential terrorists; billions more have been spent supporting airlines whose revenues took a nosedive after the attacks; the Congress was pulled away from other important business; the National
Guard was called out to patrol the nation's airports; air travelers have been subjected to time-consuming and expensive security measures; you can probably think of a half dozen other items to add to this list. It is probable that a great lot of this trouble and expense is unwarranted. We think that random searches of luggage of elderly ladies getting on airplanes in Laramie, Wyoming, for example, is more effective as a way of annoying elderly ladies than of stopping terrorism. We might have accomplished something if we had been able to treat the terrorist attacks of 9/11 in a way similar to how we treat the carnage on the nation's highways-by implementing practices and requirements that are directly related to results (as in the case of speed limits, safety belts, and the like, which took decades to accomplish in the cause of auto safety)- rather than by throwing the nation into a near panic and using the resulting fears to
justify expensive but not necessarily effective or even relevant measures. But we focused on 9/11 because of its terrorist nature and because of the spectacular film that was shown over and over on television, imprinting forever the horrific images of the airliner's collision with the World Trade Center and the subsequent collapse of the two towers. The media's instant obsession with the case is understandable, even if it is out of proportion to the actual damage, as awful as it was, when we compare the actual loss to the loss from automobile accidents. Finally, our point is that marginal or even completely ineffective expenditures and disruptive practices have taken our time, attention, and national treasure away from other matters with more promise of making the country a better place. We seem to have all begun to think of ourselves as terrorist targets, but, in fact, reason tells us we are in much greater danger from our friends
and neighbors behind the wheels of their cars. The remainder of the essays in this section are here for analysis and evaluation. Your instructor will probably have specific directions if he or she assigns them, but at a minimum, they offer an opportunity to
identify issues, separate arguments from other elements, identify premises and conclusions, evaluate the likely truth of the premises and the strength of the arguments, look for unstated assumptions or omitted premises, and lots of other stuff besides. We offer sample directions for many of the pieces.
Identify at least two argumetns in the article. Outline the premises and conclusions of each argument you find. Then, answer the following questions for each argument, making sure to explain how you arrived at your answers.
Do the prmises sufficiently support the conclusions?
Are the arguments either deductively valid or inductively strong, or ar they invalid or weak?
Are the premises true or plausibly true, or are they difficult to prove?
NOte that you may choose to evaluate invalid or weak arguments as long as you describe how they are invalid or weak.