Making Arguments

For this journal assignment, answer each of the following prompts:

Important Idea
Considering only the Introduction to Chapter 5, in terms of developing critical thinking and reasoning, what do you consider is the most valuable and important idea in that section? You can either summarize or directly quote the text; then, briefly explain why you find this idea important and valuable.
Critical Thinking
In Chapter 5, the section “Making Arguments” states: “In some ways applying our core critical thinking skills to analysis can be more difficult than offering an evaluative opinion. Analysis, like interpretation, is understanding at a deep level (p. 89)”
What concepts discussed in Chapter 4 might make analysis of a statement difficult – and why?
Beliefs
Why do you believe what you believe?
What is your “evidence”?
Test one of your beliefs by asking yourself, “Why?” As you answer each “why,” go down another layer – four layers will probably give you a good idea of why you believe what you believe.
Your product should show a well-reasoned and logical basis for your belief. Stay away from the big stuff, like believing in God, or who to vote for in the next election, and don’t look for sources – this is about what you believe and why you believe it. After all, this is only an 8-week course, and we can’t settle everything!
Click on the following link for an example of layers of why:
Link: Example of Layers of Why

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Note
Don’t be tempted to skip steps. If you start with layer 5, you have just opened up a whole new line of “whys.” For example, why should everyone be afforded an opportunity to reach his or her highest potential? After all, for most of the history of the world, that has not been the case.

If you include references to outside sources (beyond the textbook), make sure you cite them properly.

Writing Requirements (APA format)

Length: 1 ½ -2 pages (not including prompts, title page or references page)
1-inch margins
Double spaced
12-point Times New Roman font
Title page
References page (as needed)

 

reading material
Making arguments and giving reasons to communi-cate the basis for our beliefs and decisions are universal
in our species. There is a way to ask “Why?” in every lan-guage. For example, if we ask the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) why it supports the sale of guns made
for children, like the Cricket, a spokesperson may reply, “Because we are trying to develop the next generation of gun users.” And if we pursue that response a bit further, the representative may explain, “The NSSF is a trade associa-tion for the American fire arms industry.” To the question “Why did you order a moratorium on Illinois death pen-alty executions in January 2000?” former Illinois governor George Ryan might have responded, “Because our state’s criminal justice system has made mistakes, and innocent people have been wrongly executed. There is no way to undo that kind of a mistake.” In episode 19 of season 10 of the Law and Order Special Victims Unit, detectives go after a mother who refused to have her son vaccinated. In her own defense the mother says it was her right to make that deci-sion about her own child’s health. She asserts that she is not accountable for the consequences of her decision. And she says that for her child the outcome was exactly as she had hoped. Without incurring the risk she associated with a vaccination, her son got sick with measles and then recov-ered. In the final analysis, her reason is this: “Measles vac-cinations have dangerous side effects. Those risks worry me a lot.” Apart from the TV drama, we know that those risks are exceedingly rare and that the disease itself is a far greater risk to her child and to other children.1 And so, although we can identify with a mother’s concern for the welfare of her child, we may want to evaluate this decision negatively, particularly because in the TV drama her child infected other children and one died. Whether we agree with NSSF, or with Governor Ryan, or with the mother whose decision resulted in the death of another mother’s child, will become important later, when we work on the skill of evaluation. For the present, how-ever, our goal is to analyze exactly what people’s claims are and the reasons they use to establish them as worthy of acceptance. In some ways applying our core critical think-ing skill of analysis can be more difficult than offering an evaluative opinion. Analysis, like interpretation, is about understanding at a deep level. Often we are too quick to react positively or negatively to someone’s decision, only to discover later that we did not even understand the per-son’s decision or their reasons for it. The goal of this chapter is to strengthen our analyti-cal skills. We will use a technique called mapping to help clarify how a person’s reasoning flows from initial state-ments taken as true to the conclusion or decision the per-son regards as being supported by those statements. Like a Google map showing how to get from point A to point B, the maps we will draw show how people reason from their beliefs and assumptions to reach a particular opinion or
decision. The criteria for successful analyses are accuracy, completeness, and fair-minded objectivity

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