COM-362 Topic 1 Reading Exercises Assignment

Complete the exercises in the attached document, “Reading Exercises.” These exercises are also in the textbook, refer to your text should you have questions or need further examples.

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Topic 1 Reading Exercises from: Copi, Irving M. Introduction to Logic, 14th Edition. Routledge.

Chapter 1


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.

Example Problem

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

Example Solution

Premise: A well-regulated militia is necessary for the security of a free state.
Conclusion: The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.


  1. Standardized tests have a disparate racial and ethnic impact; white and Asian students score, on average, markedly higher than their black and Hispanic peers. This is true for fourth-grade tests, college entrance exams, and every other assessment on the books. If a racial gap is evidence of discrimination, then all tests discriminate.

—Abigail Thernstrom, “Testing, the Easy Target,” The New York Times, 15 January 2000

  1. Good sense is, of all things in the world, the most equally distributed, for everybody thinks himself so abundantly provided with it that even those most difficult to please in all other matters do not commonly desire more of it than they already possess.

—René Descartes, A Discourse on Method, 1637


  1. When Noah Webster proposed a Dictionary of the American Language, his early 19th-century critics presented the following argument against it: “Because any words new to the United States are either stupid or foreign, there is no such thing as the American language; there’s just bad


—Jill Lepore, “Noah’s Mark,” The New Yorker, 6 November 2006


  1. The death penalty is too costly. In New York State alone taxpayers spent more than $200 million in our state’s failed death penalty experiment, with no one executed. In addition to being too costly, capital punishment is unfair in its application. The strongest reason remains the epidemic of exonerations of death row inmates upon post-conviction investigation, including ten

New York inmates freed in the last 18 months from long sentences being served for murders or rapes they did not commit.

—L. Porter, “Costly, Flawed Justice,” The New York Times, 26 March 2007

  1. Houses are built to live in, not to look on; therefore, let use be preferred before uniformity.

—Francis Bacon, “Of Building,” in Essays, 1597


  1. 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


  1. 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


  1. If a jury is sufficiently unhappy with the government’s case or the government’s 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


  1. 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


  1. 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 can’t change his mind about his intervention, which means he is not omnipotent

—Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2006)


  1. 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 explanation is.

Example Problem

Humans have varying skin colors as a consequence of the distance our ancestors lived from the Equator. It’s all about sun. Skin color is what regulates our body’s 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

Example Solution

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 Department’s 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 one’s 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, man’s mind must possess an innate particle of the mind of God. To believe in God is not “beyond reason.”

—J. Lenzi, “Darwin’s 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 Boswell’s Life of Johnson, 1766

Chapter 2


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. Each of the following passages 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

  1. 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 Can’t Write?” National Review Online, 19 February 2003

  1. Racially diverse nations tend to have lower levels of social support than homogenous ones. People don’t 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. It’s hard to have both.

—David Brooks (presenting the views of Seymour Lipset), “The American Way of Equality,” The New York Times, 14 January 2007


  1. Orlando Patterson claims that “freedom is a natural part of the human condition.” Nothing could be further from the truth. If it were true, wecould 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


  1. The New York Timesreported, 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, wouldn’t we have heard from them by now?

—Ken Grunstra, “Reaching Back in Time,” The New York Times, 6 June 2000


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 of premises and conclusions 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 tobe 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


  1. 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

Course: COM-362 Argumentation and Advocacy
School: Grand Canyon University

  • 12/04/2020
  • 100
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