Exercise Three:

In this exercise, examine the contexts described below and indicate whether you believe that the argument described would be appropriate in that context.  Check your responses against the key.  Keep in mind that this is a rather subjective exercise, so your responses may differ.  The motivations behind the key answers are described, and any differences that exist between your responses and those in the key should be attributable to differences between the motivations.  If not, let me know.

1.  A friend asks you whether you think that Bush or Kerry will win the election, and you argue that Bush will, based on your analysis of the notion of Republicanism and certain arguments having to do with the ascendancy of democracy as the proper form for the state.  Is this response appropriate?

2.  You are running for public office and you are at a League of Women Voters debate.  The moderator asks you why you support lower municipal taxes.  Is an argument appropriate here?

3.  Jack and Jill are in a long term relationship.  Jack wrecks the car because he was fiddling with the CD player and wasn't paying attention to the road.  Jill is exasperated and asks him, "Why? Why? Why?"  Should Jack respond with an argument?

4.  Walking in late, Britt hears his two friends talking about Marx.  He chimes in, "Without question, his best work was Duck Soup," following that up with a five minute defense of Duck Soup as an all-time classic.  Jeff responds, "Karl was in Duck Soup?"  Was Britt's argument appropriate?

5.  You raise your hand and disagree with a point your professor just made.  She asks you why you think as you do.  Do you respond with an argument?

6.  In your philosophy class, your professor is facilitating a discussion of the relationship between justice and virtue.  One of your classmates pipes up, "This is ridiculous!  There is no such thing as justice.  Just look at Latin America!  At Guatemala!  At Nicaragua!  Why are we wasting our time?"  Is this appropriate in this context?

7.   One of your classmates in your Monsters class asks you how you know that evil requires the ability to know what you are doing, and you respond by saying that you took a straw poll of your fellow employees at the Rec Center, and this is what most of them thought.  Is this type of argument appropriate here?

8.  You have been arguing with your roommate as you drive to the Seven Devils on a backpacking trip.  She has just made a very good point against your claim that M. Night Shymalan is a visionary director when you notice that a car is in your lane on Highway 95.  Do you continue arguing or veer?

9.  You are a parent and your teenager has just challenged your authority for the umpteenth time that night.  You are tired after a long day at work, and you have an unexplained pain in your right knee that's really bugging you.  You just don't want to deal with it anymore.  Do you argue for your position, or do you just say, "Look.  I'm the parent, you're the child.  Listen to me or I'm yanking your TV privileges."

10.  You receive an email from David Osa entitled "Earnest Appeal" asking you to allow him to deposit $28.2 million in your bank account for a short period of time to facilitate transfer of the funds from the Central Bank of his country.  In return, you will receive 20% of the money as a fee.  Your roommate, a net novice, happens to be looking over your shoulder when you open this.  He says, "Goodness!  Let's do it!  How lucky you are!"  You argue with him that this is an old scam.  Appropriate? 


Key Argument