AGORA Training Exercises

In order to get a better understanding of the different argument schemes, and to learn about specific problems such as the distinction between co-dependent reasons in an argument and independent arguments for the same conclusion it should be useful to do a few exercises. The list of arguments below is intended as training material. These exercises start very simple and become more and more complex. For the latter the main challenge is to find the best structure to represent the argument in AGORA-net. For the selection of the appropriate argument scheme for each of the arguments below, check this table.

For instructors: Possible reconstructions of these arguments can be found in a project "AGORA Instructors" in "Argumenttheorie / AGORA-net approach" in AGORA-net. To become a "member" of this project, please send your AGORA user name (not your password) to m.hoffmann [at] gatech.edu. If you click on the yellow triangles at the bottom of statements and then on "Show more" you will find comments that discuss certain difficulties that are specific for each argument.

Instruction

For some of the arguments below you have to add something to create a logically valid argument. For others it might be necessary to reformulate the given text so that it fits as closely as possible to the argument scheme you choose. If you have an objection to one of the arguments, add those to your map. It might be necessary to reformulate statements or to add statements. Keep in mind that the overall structure of your argument or argumentation is crucial.

  1. When Frodo drives his car, he is always late. Since he is driving his car now, he will be late.
  2. Campaign reform is needed because many contributions to political campaigns are morally equivalent to bribes.
  3. The Wall Street Journal says that people should invest heavily in stocks. Therefore, investing in stocks is a smart move.
  4. Listen, any movie with clowns in it cannot be a good movie. Last night's movie had at least a dozen clowns in it. Consequently it was awful.
  5. We should take the car to get to school only if we can be sure that the traffic will not be terrible. But we cannot be sure that the traffic will not be terrible. Thus, we should not take the car.
  6. We should go swimming because it is hot and all the work is done.
  7. The thief came either through this window or through the door. The thief did not come through this window, so he or she must have come through the door.
  8. We should either eat vegetables or chocolate cake. But we should not eat chocolate cake. Therefore, let's have vegetables.
  9. We should not eat both, vegetables and chocolate cake. So, we should not eat chocolate cake because we should eat vegetables.
  10. Having this particular qualification is a sufficient condition for being considered for this job. Mary has this particular qualification, so she will be considered for this job.
  11. Miriam was in the library when the books were stolen from the librarian’s desk. She was also seen hanging around the desk. So she’s probably the one who stole them.
  12. Being a citizen is a necessary condition for having the right to vote. But Paul is not a citizen. Thus, he doesn't have the right to vote.
  13. To secure the stability of our social security system in the long run, we need either to foster immigration or to support families so that more children are born. There is a lot of resistance against immigration in this country so that we need to support families.
  14. Everybody agrees that the president must have been informed by Johnson or by Lippert, and that one of them gave him the documents at this opportunity. But Johnson was out of town at the time, at least that is what we can assume based on the testimony by Lindler-Craig. So, who is to blame? Lippert, obviously.
  15. Either Jack is lying or he is not. If his ears turn red, he is lying. If they don’t turn red, he’s telling the truth. His ears are red. Jack is lying.
  16. All the evidence in this trial suggests that Lizzy Borden is guilty of murder. Let’s face it: She’s probably guilty.
  17. The defendant is guilty. After all, he confessed to stealing the jewels and he was undoubtedly present at the scene of the crime since his fingerprints are on the inside of the safe.
  18. Stem-cell research encourages abortions because abortions are a prime source for stem cells. Anything that encourages abortions should be banned. We ought to ban all stem-cell research.
  19. Either Maggie, Jose, or Ling broke the window. Jose couldn’t have done it because he was studying in his room and was observed the whole time. Maggie couldn’t have done it because she was out of town at the time and has witnesses to prove it. So Ling must have done it.
  20. You will win the race only if you train enough. But you seem to be unwilling to spend enough time on training.
  21. Taxing carbon-based fuels is more cost-efficient than a cap-and-trade system, at least in the short run. While the benefits of both approaches are probably the same regarding the goal to reduce emissions, the up-front costs for setting up a cap-and-trade system are much higher than the costs for taxing carbon-based fuels.
  22. The war on terrorism must include a massive military strike on nation X because without this intervention, terrorists cannot be defeated. They will always be able to find safe haven and support in the X regime. Even if terrorists are scattered around the world, support from nation X will increase their chances of surviving and launching new attacks.
  23. Red meat might be healthier for some people than yogurt that has a lot of sugar because most people consume already a lot of sugar with other components of their daily diet.
  24. If the dictum to always tell the truth in all circumstances is a valid moral principle, then it should fit well with our considered moral judgments. But it does not fit well with our moral considered judgments because there are times when lying is actually the right thing to do, as when we lie to save a life. So the dictum to always tell the truth is not a valid moral principle.
  25. Globalization and the growth of international trade substantially increased the wealth of our nation. However, since many workers in manufacturing lost their job based on globalization, it is our moral duty, as a nation, to support these workers. We should at least provide re-training programs so that they qualify for new jobs. But these workers need to be willing to acquire new skills because otherwise offering re-training would just be a waste of money.
  26. I can't have anything more to do with the operation. If I did, I'd have to lie to the Ambassador. And I can't do that. (Henry Bromwell, "I Know Your Heart, Marco Polo," The New Yorker, March 6, 1978)
  27. "It's going to be a very cold winter for housing and for the economy in general," said Michael Sumichrast, chief economist for the National Association of Home Builders. "You cannot have a general economic recovery without housing doing reasonably well and housing will not be doing reasonably well." (UPI Report, November 18, 1980.)
  28. Everybody should use public transportation. If there are fewer cars on the road, there is less congestion, less fuel consumption, and less pollution, and one thing is clear: We want to get to our destination as quickly as possible and we want to safe money. Also, using public transportation is safer than using your car.
  29. The only valid reasons for discharging someone from the army are health problems and violations of Army regulations. So if Amal says that he was discharged for simply being gay, he is lying or is mistaken. He is not lying. So he is mistaken.
  30. We should encourage companies to determine the carbon footprint of their products because this can help to save money and to reduce carbon emissions at the same time. PepsiCo, for example, learned based on an analysis of the carbon footprint of a package potato chips that carbon emissions can be reduced by 7 % and money saved if potatoes are bought by dry weight instead of gross weight. They discovered that farmers humidified their potatoes before selling to increase their gross weight. Giving up humidification leads to a reduction of frying time by 10 % and to saving money and energy both for frying and for humidification.
  31. There is an undoubted psychological easing of standards of truthfulness toward those believed to be liars. It is simply a fact, for instance that one behaves differently toward a trusted associate and toward a devious, aggressive salesman. But this easing of standards merely explains the difference in behavior; it does not by itself justify lies to those one takes to be less than honest. Some of the harm the liar may have done by lying may be repaid by the harm a lie can do to him in return. But the risks to others, to general trust, and to those who lie to liars in retaliations merely accumulate and spread thereby. Only if there are separate, and more compelling, excuses, can lying to liars be justified (Sissela Bok, Lying. Moral Choice in Public and Private Life, New York: Pantheon Books, 1978, p.134).
  32. Reconstruct the argument in: Economist. (2011). Climate change. Piecemeal possibilities: Paying attention to alternative ways of cooling the planet is a good idea; ignoring carbon emissions isn’t. Economist, 16.
  33. Reconstruct the debate in the following article: Economist (2011). The beautiful and the damned. The links between rising inequality, the Wall Street boom and the subprime fiasco. Economist, 90, Jan 22.
  34. Reconstruct the argument about a new retirement scheme by Hu, H. T. C., & Odean, T. (2011, Feb 25). OP-ED: Paying for Old Age. The New York Times.