sub -) arguments found within H u m a n i t i e s
The point of this project is to put into practice a number of the skills that we have learned
through the semester. While the graduate students will be produce a full-on paper employing the
skills that we’ve covered, undergraduates will be allowed to create a document of a number of
(perhaps) independent sections displaying their skills.
The Project: to take an article from recent editorials (you can get them free online from the
Washington Post, the New York Times, the Atlantic, or any other respectable publication), or
from a philosophy journal (it can be an article that you read for another class), or even one of
your own papers that you would like to extend into a better paper for another purpose (an
undergrad journal submission, an honors thesis, or maybe an eventual Master’s thesis), and
evaluate it on the basis of each of the relevant criteria below. Not all points of evaluation will be
relevant to everyone, as for example in the case of charts and graphs.
These Are The Key Elements That Your Project Should Include:
1. Introduce the paper with an overall description of its purpose—a sort of short abstract.
2. Identify the main argument of the article, and at least 2 (sub-) arguments found within it.
3. Identify key terms employed in the arguments, and explain the definitions of those terms,
including whether there are any equivocations in their use, or any vaguenesses or
ambiguities upon which the argument might lean, and/or that might affect the quality of
4. Create a diagram showing how each of the premises and the conclusion (numbered in an
identifiable way) relate in the 3 arguments that you’ve identified (these may be treated as
completely separate arguments).
5. Symbolize the arguments that you’ve identified, in either propositional or predicate logic
terms. (This one might help you to do #4, or #4 might help with this one.)
6. Once you are clear about the structure of three arguments, say whether they are intended
as deductive or non-deductive, and then evaluate them in terms of validity or invalidity,
or weakness or strength. This evaluation will include identifying any formal or informal
fallacies committed in these arguments. Don’t think automatically that there won’t be
7. If the article that you choose involves a thought experiment, show how it works to further
the main argument of the article.
8. If the article that you choose involves statistical arguments, provide an analysis and
critique of those arguments.
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