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This assessment method is designed to help you see how logic is used (or misused) in everyday life, and thereby appreciate the importance of good reasoning. You are asked to do some fieldwork related to logic. In particular, you are asked to document an argument “in the wild,” that is, an argument someone makes during a debate, a dispute, or a disagreement as you witness it in everyday life. The argument cannot be taken from a book or an article. You may use various mediums to document this “argument in the wild,” such as text, image, audio, or video. Then you should analyze the argument using the logical tools we learn throughout this course. For the second Argument in the Wild, you should write the argument in canonical form and then evaluate it, that is, determine whether the argument is valid or invalid, using a Venn diagram. If the argument is valid, determine whether it is sound or unsound.
Here is an example of what an “Arguments in the Wild 2” submission should look like:
In this video, Trevor Noah discusses the following argument, which is made by the CEO of CBS, Les Moonves: “The money’s rolling in… This is going to be a very good year for us. Sorry, it’s a terrible thing to say, but, bring it on, Donald.”
Moonves’ argument in this video can be reconstructed in canonical form as follows:
P1: Anything that brings in money is good for CBS.
P2: Trump’s presidential bid brings in money.
C: Trump’s presidential bid is good for CBS.
Reconstructed in this way, Moonves’ argument is valid; that is, if P1 and P2 are true, then C would have to be true as well. Indeed, the argument is an AAA-1 categorical syllogism.
S: Things identical with Trump’s presidential bid
P: Things that are good for CBS
M: Things that bring in money
All M are P.
All S are M.
All S are P.
Since the argument is valid, the question is whether the premises are in fact true. Is the argument sound? If the only thing that CBS cares about is the bottom line, then it would follow that Trump’s presidential bid is good for CBS, given that it is good for CBS’s bottom line. However, it might be argued that CBS, as a major source of news, has a journalistic responsibility to the American public. If the American public loses trust in CBS, upon finding out that CBS reports only the news that bring in money, then that could also hurt CBS’s bottom line.
Since there are doubts about whether the premises are true, although Moonves’ argument can be reconstructed as a valid categorical syllogism, it cannot be said to be sound.
This, then, is how your second “Arguments in the Wild” assignment should look like. That is, you should use the tools of Categorical Logic (in particular, Venn diagrams) to analyze one argument in the wild. You should determine whether the argument is valid or invalid by means of a Venn diagram. If valid, you should determine whether the argument is sound or unsound.
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