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Having the ability to think critically, in all aspects, is an extremely important skill to possess for a multitude of reasons. It provides us with the ability to make independent decisions by creating understanding, solving problems and evaluating varying viewpoints. More specifically, being able to evaluate an argument as cogent or not when presented with one. With these skills, you can expertly break down an argument and effectively prove that the counterpart’s reasoning to support their claims is not adequately justified. A way of doing this is to use the ARG conditions, which are the guidelines we will be using later in this essay. ARG conditions are the basic elements that make up a cogent argument. The acronym stands for acceptable premises (A), relevance of premises (R) and good grounds (G) (Govier, 2013). In basic terms, an acceptable premise means it is reasonable for the premise to be known to be true so that it’s “reasonable for those to whom the argument is addressed to believes” them (Govier, 2013, p. 87). Using these ARG conditions, we’ll be breaking down three separate arguments to determine if they are acceptable as cogent while also analyzing if the second character’s response meets the argument put forth.
The first argument that will be discussed involves two characters and goes as follows… Jim: “A mediator should be completely neutral between the two parties in a dispute. If he or she is on the side of either party, the process will be unfair to the other party. In addition, the disadvantaged party will probably detect the lack of neutrality and then the mediation won’t work. Neutrality is probably the most essential of all qualities for a mediator to have. And because the United States is the world’s only superpower, it will never be perceived as neutral. The idea that the United States can go in and mediate in the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is completely stupid!” Roger: “I don’t think so. It’s the one country capable of bringing pressure on both sides, and that’s the most fundamental thing.” Jim’s statement which discusses what it takes to be a mediator and who can and cannot be a mediator is acceptable and cogent. The premises that are given by Jim, such as “a mediator should be completely neutral between the two parties in a dispute” and “If he or she is on the side of either party, the process will be unfair to the other party”, are valid and reasonable.
They are acceptable on a basis of common knowledge as the purpose of a mediator is often quite specific therefore so are its qualities. We also know a mediators qualities, like the points mention by Jim, are accurate because any qualities opposing them would defy the very point of recruiting a mediator. The qualities needed by a mediator are quite obvious and go along with the reason for and definition of a mediator. The premises given by Jim are relevant to the discussion and final conclusion, giving more good reason to believe and accept them. These reasons satisfy the ‘A’ and ‘R’ conditions. Working together, the premises give a strong reason and evidence to accept the conclusion of “the idea that the United States can go in and mediate in the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is completely stupid”. Each of the claims gradually leads up to the conclusion and there is no sufficient evidence to believe the premises are false. The premises are reasonably and progressively built with detective validity, making the ultimate conclusion about the United States a rational and logical one which aids in satisfying the ‘G’ condition. For these many reasons working together, we can justifiably declare Jim’s argument as acceptable and cogent. The response given by Rogers does not meet the challenge of the argument made previously by Jim. Roger’s response of “I don’t think so. It’s the one country capable of bringing pressure on both sides, and that’s the most fundamental thing” failed to explain or give proof and reasoning for his claim to be true. He provides no evidence to support his singular claim, which as a result, creates an extremely weak argument. Instead, Roger’s response was more of a simple opinion oppose to a structured rebuttal that would be needed to meet Jim’s previous statement. Because of this, Rogers ‘argument’ is easily debatable and challenged – qualities that make one’s argument extremely weak. Not only was Roger’s response too vague, the reasoning that he did provide failed to acknowledge the premises previously stated by Jim.
Roger simply just disagreed while failing to communicate why he disagreed. If Roger referenced Jim’s statements and took them into consideration while forming his response, he might have had a better chance of adequately meeting Jim’s argument. Overall, the response given by Roger lacked information relating to the argument he was challenged with and ultimately gave little to no reason to accept it. An example of an acceptable rebuttal would be… Roger: “I don’t think so. It is more important for a mediator to be able to bring pressure on both sides than to be neutral. Applying pressure to Israeli and Palestinian will be a lot more effective for coming to a resolution. I understand how important neutrality while mediating a conflict but I think it comes secondary which is why the United States is the ideal candidate to be the mediator.” The second argument being discussed goes as follows… Steve: “I would never let myself be hypnotized by anyone, for any reason” Peter: “Why not?” Steve: “Too much is at stake. I just don’t trust anyone that much.
When you let somebody hypnotize you, they are getting right inside your mind, and they have a lot of potential to control you. Hypnosis is dangerous because it opens your mind to too much outside influence.” Peter: “I can see what you mean but I don’t know; hypnosis helped me a lot when I was quitting smoking. I used it once for dental work too, and it was great.” After being challenged about his previously stated opinion, Steve goes on to explain the reasoning behind his statement. We can accept steve’s statement as, in basic terms, it explains what happens during a hypnotization. His statements are reasonable for the topic at hand. Steve’s premises are relevant and lead to the conclusion as they discuss the steps of how being hypnotized opens the mind. Steve’s reasoning is known a priori to be true as one does not necessarily need the first-hand experience to understand how a hypnotization works. This can also be based on common knowledge as his reasonings are simple basics of what takes place during a hypnotization that majority of people are familiar with. This aids in giving good reason to accept them. Steve builds to his conclusion gradually through deductive validity. The claims leading to the conclusion are known to be true and show no reason to decline them. This allows the conclusion to be seen as reasonable and truthful. Part of this is because Steve is discussing the potential of another human misusing their power, which is an extremely valid statement as we can never determine a human’s decisions. Together the premises and conclusion show no reason to declare them false and show no evidence to deny them while satisfying all conditions. The response given by Peter does not meet the argument. Peters answer of simply “I can see what you mean but I don’t know; hypnosis helped me a lot when I was quitting smoking.
I used it once for dental work too, and it was great” doesn’t even consider Steve’s premises and conclusion. Failing to acknowledge Steves side of the argument immediately diminishes his credibility. Peter also fails to realise that his ‘argument’ is purely based on personal experience, creating a completely biased, and therefore unsatisfactory, response while lacking all evidence. Even after stating “I can see what you mean” Peter fails to actually acknowledge Steve’s argument at all. A main issue with this argument is the lack of one. Overall, Peter’s response is not an acceptable one. A stronger argument could look like this… Peter: “I can see what you mean. They do have a lot of influence on your mind but that’s the point of a hypnotisation. Hypnotizing can be used for good, for example, it’s helped me quit smoking and with dental work also. I understand your fears though.” The third and final argument goes as follows… Nicholas: “Legislation compelling children to wear helmets when they are riding their bikes is really a good thing. The latest statistics from the Canadian Institute for Health Information show that hospitalizations due to cycling-related injuries decreased by 12.5 percent between 1997 and ’98 and 2001 and ’02, and during the same period, head injuries decreased by 26 percent. Helmet laws really work.” Kaitlyn: “That’s great news. But I wonder whether these declines are actually the result of the legislation. I mean, it could be that people are cycling less, or that public education campaigns about helmets are helping more than the actual legislation.” This is the only argument out of all three where the response meets the argument and both sides are acceptable and cogent. The first half of the argument, presented by Nicholas, makes rational and plausible claims. His premises provide factual information and good reason to believe them.
Being from Statistics Canada, the premises bring irrefutable claims into his point. These premises lead to the sensible conclusion. The argument is based on a matter of common sense as it’s basic ‘math’. When a person takes extra steps of precaution, an accident becomes less likely to take place. Nicholas’ claims make it difficult to deny or refute his conclusion and all the ARG conditions are met. Overall, all conditions are met and the argument is acceptable. The response, made by Kaitlyn, meets the challenge and is also a cogent and acceptable argument. The premises are acceptable as they acknowledge and are relevant to Nicolas’ statements. Kaitlyn’s claims provide a strong rebuttal as she still uses Nicolas’ claims but reworks them to create a new point. Mentioning that the statistics that Nicolas’ used can be a result of other decisions make her premises strong and irrefutable. Kaitlyn’s response is overall acceptable and meets the challenge put forth by Nicholas and needs no reconstruction.
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