Complete the exercises in the attached document, Reading
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Topic 1 Reading Exercises from:
Copi, Irving M. Introduction to Logic, 14th Edition. Routledge.
Identify the premises and conclusions in the following passages. Some premises do support the
conclusion; others do not. Note that premises may support conclusions directly or indirectly and
that even simple passages may contain more than one argument.
A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to
keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
The Constitution of the United States, Amendment 2
Premise: A well-regulated militia is necessary for the security of a free
Conclusion: The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
10. To boycott a business or a city [as a protest] is not an act of violence, but it can cause
economic harm to many people. The greater the economic impact of a boycott, the more
impressive the statement it makes. At the same time, the economic consequences are likely to be
shared by people who are innocent of any wrongdoing, and who can ill afford the loss of income:
hotel workers, cab drivers, restaurateurs, and merchants. The boycott weapon ought to be used
sparingly, if for no other reason than the harm it can cause such bystanders.
Alan Wolfe, The Risky Power of the Academic Boycott, The Chronicle of Higher
Education, 17 March 2000
11. Ethnic cleansing was viewed not so long ago as a legitimate tool of foreign policy. In the
early part of the 20th century forced population shifts were not uncommon; multicultural empires
crumbled and nationalism drove the formation of new, ethnically homogenous countries
Belinda Cooper, Trading Places, The New York Times Book Review, 17 September 2006
12. If a jury is sufficiently unhappy with the governments case or the governments conduct, it
can simply refuse to convict. This possibility puts powerful pressure on the state to behave
properly. For this reason a jury is one of the most important protections of a democracy
Robert Precht, Japan, the Jury, The New York Times, 1 December 2006
13. Without forests, orangutans cannot survive. They spend more than 95 percent of their time in
the trees, which, along with vines and termites, provide more than 99 percent of their food. Their
only habitat is formed by the tropical rain forests of Borneo and Sumatra
Birute Galdikas, The Vanishing Man of the Forest, The New York Times, 6 January 2007
14. Omniscience and omnipotence are mutually incompatible. If God is omniscient, he must
already know how he is going to intervene to change the course of history using his
omnipotence. But that means he cant change his mind about his intervention, which means he is
Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2006)
15. Reason is the greatest enemy that faith has; it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but
more frequently than not struggles against the divine Word, treating with contempt all that
emanates from God
Martin Luther, Last Sermon in Wittenberg, 17 January 154
Some of the following passages contain explanations, some contain arguments, and some may be
interpreted as either an argument or an explanation. What is your judgment about the chief
function of each passage? What would have to be the case for the passage in question to be an
argument? To be an explanation? Where you find an argument, identify its premises and
conclusion. Where you find an explanation, indicate what is being explained and what the
Humans have varying skin colors as a consequence of the distance our ancestors lived from the
Equator. Its all about sun. Skin color is what regulates our bodys reaction to the sun and its
rays. Dark skin evolved to protect the body from excessive sun rays. Light skin evolved when
people migrated away from the Equator and needed to make vitamin D in their skin. To do that
they had to lose pigment. Repeatedly over history, many people moved dark to light and light to
dark. That shows that color is not a permanent trait
Nina Jablonski, The Story of Skin, The New York Times, 9 January 2007
This is essentially an explanation. What is being explained is the fact that humans have varying
skin colors. The explanation is that different skin colors evolved as humans came to live at different
distances from the Equator and hence needed different degrees of protection from the rays of the
sun. One might interpret the passage as an argument whose conclusion is that skin color is not a
permanent trait of all humans. Under this interpretation, all the propositions preceding the final
sentence of the passage serve as premises.
15.The Treasury Departments failure to design and issue paper currency that is readily
distinguishable to blind and visually impaired individuals violates Section 504 of the
Rehabilitation Act, which provides that no disabled person shall be subjected to discrimination
under any program or activity conducted by any Executive agency.
Judge James Robertson, Federal District Court for the District of Columbia, American Council
of the Blind v. Sec. of the Treasury, No. 02-0864 (2006)
16.Rightness [that is, acting so as to fulfill ones duty] never guarantees moral goodness. For an
act may be the act which the agent thinks to be his duty, and yet be done from an indifferent or
bad motive, and therefore be morally indifferent or bad
Sir W. David Ross, Foundations of Ethics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1939)
17.Man did not invent the circle or the square or mathematics or the laws of physics. He
discovered them. They are immutable and eternal laws that could only have been created by a
supreme mind: God. And since we have the ability to make such discoveries, mans mind must
possess an innate particle of the mind of God. To believe in God is not beyond reason.
J. Lenzi, Darwins God, The New York Times Magazine, 18 March 2007
18.Many of the celebratory rituals [of Christmas], as well as the timing of the holiday, have their
origins outside of, and may predate, the Christian commemoration of the birth of Jesus. Those
traditions, at their best, have much to do with celebrating human relationships and the enjoyment
of the goods that this life has to offer. As an atheist I have no hesitation in embracing the holiday
and joining with believers and nonbelievers alike to celebrate what we have in common
John Teehan, A Holiday Season for Atheists, Too, The New York Times, 24 December 2006
19.All ethnic movements are two-edged swords. Beginning benignly, and sometimes necessary
to repair injured collective psyches, they often end in tragedy, especially when they turn
political, as illustrated by German history
Orlando Patterson, A Meeting with Gerald Ford, The New York Times, 6 January 2007
20.That all who are happy, are equally happy, is not true. A peasant and a philosopher may be
equally satisfied, but not equally happy. Happiness consists in the multiplicity of agreeable
consciousness. A peasant has not the capacity for having equal happiness with a philosopher
Samuel Johnson, in Boswells Life of Johnson, 1766
For each of the argument descriptions provided below, construct a deductive argument (on any
subject of your choosing) having only two premises.
1. A valid argument with one true premise, one false premise, and a false conclusion
2. A valid argument with one true premise, one false premise, and a true conclusion
3. An invalid argument with two true premises and a false conclusion
4. An invalid argument with two true premises and a true conclusion
5. A valid argument with two false premises and a true conclusion
6. An invalid argument with two false premises and a true conclusion
7. An invalid argument with one true premise, one false premise, and a true conclusion
8. A valid argument with two true premises and a true conclusion
Paraphrase each of the following passages, which may contain more than one argument.
1. The [Detroit] Pistons did not lose because of the lack of ability. They are an all-around better
team. They lost because of the law of averages. They will beat the [San Antonio] Spurs every
two times out of three. When you examine the NBA finals [of 2005], that is exactly how they
lost the seventh (last game) because that would have been three out of three. The Spurs will beat
the Pistons one out of three. It just so happens that, that one time was the final game, because the
Pistons had already won two in a row.
Maurice Williams, Law of Averages Worked Against Detroit Pistons, The Ann
Arbor (Michigan) News, 8 July 2005
2. Hundreds of thousands of recent college graduates today cannot express themselves with the
written word. Why? Because universities have shortchanged them, offering strange literary
theories, Marxism, feminism, deconstruction, and other oddities in the guise of writing courses.
Stanley Ridgeley, College Students Cant Write? National Review Online, 19 February 2003
3. Racially diverse nations tend to have lower levels of social support than homogenous ones.
People dont feel as bound together when they are divided on ethnic lines and are less likely to
embrace mutual support programs. You can have diversity or a big welfare state. Its hard to
David Brooks (presenting the views of Seymour Lipset), The American Way of
Equality, The New York Times, 14 January 2007
4. Orlando Patterson claims that freedom is a natural part of the human condition. Nothing
could be further from the truth. If it were true, we could expect to find free societies spread
throughout human history. We do not. Instead what we find are every sort of tyrannical
government from time immemorial.
John Taylor, Can Freedom Be Exported? The New York Times, 22 December 2006
5. The New York Times reported, on 30 May 2000, that some scientists were seeking a way to
signal back in time. A critical reader responded thus:
It seems obvious to me that scientists in the future will never find a way to signal back in
time. If they were to do so, wouldnt we have heard from them by now?
Ken Grunstra, Reaching Back in Time, The New York Times, 6 June 2000
A. Diagram each of the following passages, which may contain more than one argument.
In a recent attack upon the evils of suburban sprawl, the authors argue as follows:
The dominant characteristic of sprawl is that each component of a community housing, shopping
centers, office parks, and civic institutionsis segregated, physically separated from the others,
causing the residents of suburbia to spend an inordinate amount of time and money moving from
one place to the next. And since nearly everyone drives alone, even a sparsely populated area can
generate the traffic of a much larger traditional town.14
The dominant characteristic of sprawl is that each component of a communityhousing,
shopping centers, office parks, and civic institutionsis segregated, physically separated from
the others, causing
the residents of suburbia to spend an inordinate amount of time and
money moving from one place to the next. And since
nearly everyone drives alone,
a sparsely populated area can generate the traffic of a much larger traditional town.
5. The distinguished economist J. K. Galbraith long fought to expose and improve a society
exhibiting private opulence and public squalor. In his classic work, The Affluent
Society (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1960), he argued as follows:
Vacuum cleaners to insure clean houses are praiseworthy and essential in our standard of
living. Street cleaners to insure clean streets are an unfortunate expense. Partly as a result,
our houses are generally clean and our streets generally filthy.
6. Defending the adoption of the euro in place of the pound as the monetary unit of the United
Kingdom, Prime Minister Tony Blair said this: The argument is simple. We are part of Europe.
It affects us directly and deeply. Therefore we should exercise leadership in order to change
Europe in the direction we want.
Reported by Alan Cowell in the The New York Times, 9 December 2001
7. Californias three strikes and youre out law was enacted 10 years ago this month (March,
2004). Between 1994 and 2002, Californias prison population grew by 34,724, while that of
New York, a state without a three strikes law, grew by 315. Yet during that time period New
Yorks violent crime rate dropped 20 percent more than Californias. No better example exists of
how the drop in crime cannot be attributed to draconian laws with catchy names.
Vincent Schiraldi, Punitive Crime Laws, The New York Times, 19 March 2004
8. No one means all he says, and yet very few say all they mean, for words are slippery and
thought is viscous.
Henry Adams, The Education of Henry Adams (1907)
9. The first impression becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy: we hear what we expect to hear. The
interview is hopelessly biased in favor of the nice.
Malcom Gladwell, The New-Boy Network, The New Yorker, 29 May 2000
10. No government can ever guarantee that the small investor has an equal chance of winning. It
is beyond dishonest to pretend that rules can be written to prevent future financial scandals. No
set of regulations can insure fairness and transparency in the [securities] markets.
Lester Thurow, Government Cant Make the Market Fair, The New York Times, 23 July
Each of the following famous passages, taken from classical literature and philosophy, comprises
a set of arguments whose complicated interrelations are critical for the force of the whole.
Construct for each the diagram that you would find most helpful in analyzing the flow of
argument in that passage. More than one interpretation will be defensible.
1. A question arises: whether it be better [for a prince] to be loved than feared or feared than
loved? One should wish to be both, but, because it is difficult to unite them in one person, it is
much safer to be feared than loved, when, of the two, one must be dispensed with. Because this
is to be asserted in general of men, that they are ungrateful, fickle, false, cowards, covetous .
and that prince who, relying entirely on their promises, has neglected other precautions, is
ruined, because friendships that are obtained by payments may indeed be earned but they are not
secured, and in time of need cannot be relied upon. Men have less scruple in offending one who
is beloved than one who is feared, for love is preserved by the link of obligation which, owing to
the baseness of men, is broken at every opportunity for their advantage; but fear preserves you
by a dread of punishment which never fails.
Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, 1515
2. Democratic laws generally tend to promote the welfare of the greatest possible number; for
they emanate from the majority of the citizens, who are subject to error, but who cannot have an
interest opposed to their own advantage. The laws of an aristocracy tend, on the contrary, to
concentrate wealth and power in the hands of the minority; because an aristocracy, by its very
nature, constitutes a minority. It may therefore be asserted, as a general proposition, that the
purpose of a democracy in its legislation is more useful to humanity than that of an aristocracy.
Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, 183
The following problems require reasoning for their solution. To prove that an answer is correct
requires an argument (often containing subsidiary arguments) whose premises are contained in
the statement of the problemand whose final conclusion is the answer to it. If the answer is
correct, it is possible to construct a valid argument proving it. In working these problems, readers
are urged to concern themselves not merely with discovering the answers but also with
formulating arguments to prove that those answers are correct.
2. Of three prisoners in a certain jail, one had normal vision, the second had only one eye, and
the third was totally blind. The jailor told the prisoners that, from three white hats and two red
hats, he would select three and put them on the prisoners heads. None could see what color hat
he wore. The jailor offered freedom to the prisoner with normal vision if he could tell what color
hat he wore. To prevent a lucky guess, the jailor threatened execution for any incorrect answer.
The first prisoner could not tell what hat he wore. Next the jailor made the same offer to the oneeyed prisoner. The second prisoner could not tell what hat he wore either. The jailor did not
bother making the offer to the blind prisoner, but he agreed to extend the same terms to that
prisoner when he made the request. The blind prisoner said:
I do not need to have my sight;
From what my friends with eyes have said,
I clearly see my hat is_!
How did he know?
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