Evaluating Truth and Validity Exercise – Answered

Assignment Instructions

Select three of the scenarios in the Applications list 12.2 (a.-y.) at the end of Ch. 12 in The Art of Thinking.

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).

Explain your assessment and add alternative argumentation where necessary

Sample Answer

Evaluating Truth and Validity

First Argument

The first argument I would analyze is part j, “Power must be evil because it can corrupt people.” Ruggiero (2012) details the four steps of evaluating truth and validity of an argument. The first step is to determine whether the argument has a hidden premise and whether it has been stated correctly. The argument does not have a hidden premise. In addition, it has been stated correctly. The next step is to analyze the parts of the argument for errors affecting the truth. The argument does not pass this step. The argument claims that power corrupt. This implies that it corrupts all people. However, this is not true since throughout history there are several cases of people who were not corrupted by power. Therefore, a more valid argument would be that “Power must be evil because it corrupts some people.” The next step is to analyze the argument for validity errors and determine whether the conclusion of the argument is legitimate or illegitimate. The argument does not pass this test. The argument infers that corruption is evil. This raises the question of how corruption should one become to be considered evil. In addition, what is evil is ambiguous. What one considers to be evil may be considered acceptable by another individual.

The above analysis shows that the argument is flawed. Therefore, I would use an alternative argument instead of the argument. The argument would state that “Power in the wrong hands would cause great harm and power in good hands would cause great good.”

Second Argument

The second argument would be n, “Nuclear power is a threat to world peace. Nuclear energy stations generate nuclear power. So nuclear energy stations are a threat to world peace.” The first step is to determine whether the argument has any hidden premise. Analysis of the argument shows that it does not have any hidden premise. The second step is to analyze the parts of the argument for any errors affecting the truth. The first part of the argument, which states “Nuclear power is a threat to world peace” is not true as it is expressed. This is because there are many peaceful and useful uses of nuclear power. The second statement is true. It is a fact that nuclear power stations do indeed generate nuclear power. The next step is to analyze the argument for validity errors and determine whether the argument is legitimate or illegitimate. The argument implies that since nuclear power is a threat to world peace, and nuclear power stations produce nuclear power, then nuclear power stations are a threat to world peace. This conclusion wrong as nuclear power has many peaceful uses. In addition, most nuclear power stations are used in the production of alternative energy, which does not pose any threat to world peace.

The argument is flawed. Therefore, I would use an alternative argument instead of the above argument. The correct argument would be “Nuclear power used in the production of weapons is a threat to world peace. Most nuclear power stations help in generating energy. Therefore, they do not pose a threat to world peace.

Third Argument

The final argument that I would analyze is r, “If the Social Security system is further weakened, the elderly will have to fear poverty. Therefore, if the Social Security system is not further weakened, the elderly will not have to fear poverty.” The first step is to determine whether the argument has any hidden premise and whether it is stated correctly. The argument does not have any hidden premise. It is also stated correctly. The next step is to determine whether the argument has any errors that affect the truth. The first part of the argument infers that all elderly rely on the social security, which is not true. The second part of the argument is also not true since it implies that loss in income is the only cause of poverty when in reality there are many causes of poverty. The final step of analyzing the argument would be to determine whether it has validity errors and determine the conclusion of the argument is legitimate or illegitimate. The argument does not pass this step as it infers all elderly people are dependent on social security. It also infers that loss of income is the only cause of poverty.

The above analysis shows that the argument is flawed. Therefore, I would correct the argument to read “If the social security system is further weakened, the elderly who rely on it will have to fear poverty. Therefore, if it is not weakened further, these elderly will not have to fear poverty.

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