You have learned to examine an argument and identify the claims and reasons. In some arguments, a premise or the conclusion may be implied and not stated. In these arguments, you must fill in the missing premise or conclusion before you can analyze the argument.
For each of the following arguments, determine if it is complete or if there is a missing element. Identify the premise/s and the conclusion and label them. Complete the argument if necessary. If the argument is complete, identify the premise/s and conclusion and state that it is complete.
- You shouldn’t be so critical of War and Peace. You’ve never read it.
- Every animal needs to breathe to live. Fish are animals. Fish cannot breathe in the air.
- If I put sugar in my coffee, I enjoy it more. I put sugar in my coffee.
- All of the Smith children are good at math. David is one of the Smith children; therefore David is good at math.
- Fluffy is a good pet. After all, he is a poodle.
- My bowl fell off of the counter and broke. If your bowl falls off of the counter, it will break.
- If a student fails the final exam, then he or she will fail the class. Mary failed the final exam.
- You have to love cats to be a friend of mine. David is my friend.
Based on your understanding of the four tests for evaluating arguments and the fallacies of relevance, provide a critique of the following arguments.
- Identify the conclusion (claim) and premise/s (reason/s).
- Then determine whether the argument is sound using terminology from this lesson. If the argument is not sound, explain why. Does the argument pass all four tests? If not, where did it fail?
Here is a recap of the four tests:
- The truthfulness of premises (Are the reasons given true?)
- Logical strength (Is the relationship between the reason and the claim logical?)
- Relevance (Is the reason relevant to the claim?)
- Non-circularity (Is the claim merely a restatement of the reason?
- Vegetarianism must be unhealthy since there are so many fast food burger places around.
- The New York Yankees have the best team in baseball because they have the highest-paid players.
- Lawyer to the jury: “My client can’t be guilty of stealing cars. He is a huge animal lover and rescues stray dogs.”
- Whales are mammals. Mammals nurse their young. Therefore, whales nurse their young.
- Free trade is good for our country. It allows products to flow between here and other countries. The free flow of goods is good for our country.