Help with selected exercises from the book
1-1, 1. What is a claim?
A claim is a statement that is either true or false. Note two things: The word "sentence" works as well as "statement" in defining a claim; and the word "claim" by itself does not imply that something is a nonsubjective matter.
1-4, 4. Computers will never be able to converse intelligently through speech.
A simple example proves that this is so. The sentences "How do you recognize speech?" and "How do you wreck a nice beach?" have entirely different meanings, but they sound similar enough that a computer could not distinguish the two.
Argument. The conclusion is that computers will never be able to converse intelligently. The conclusion indicator in the second sentence - "proves that this is so" - points back to the first sentence of the paragraph. Note that a conclusion may often come at the beginning of an argument instead of at the end.
Also note the implied premise: If a computer could converse intelligently it would be able to tell the difference between different statements. Is this true? Don't plenty of people converse intelligently and still misunderstand what they hear? If I say "I hunt bear" and you think I said "I hunt bare," you would misunderstand me without losing the ability to converse intelligently.
1-4, 19. We need to make clear that sexual preference, whether chosen or genetically determined, is a private matter. It has nothing to do with an individual's ability to make a positive contribution to society.
No argument. The first sentence communicates the claim under discussion; the second initially seems to support that claim, and so it gives the appearance of offering an argument. But a little thought should show that the second sentence merely restates the first, spelling out the meaning of "private matter" as something irrelevant to "an individual's ability to make a positive contribution to society." Think of it this way: Any reasons for accepting the second sentence are reasons for accepting the first, and vice versa. (See Chapter 6 on the type of pseudoreasoning called 'begging the question.')
1-5, 1. Let me tell you why Hank ought not to take that math course. First, it's too hard, and he'll probably flunk it. Second, he's going to spend the whole term in a state of frustration. Third, he'll probably get depressed and do poorly in all the rest of his courses.
The primary issue is (a), whether Hank ought to take that math course. The other possibilities may look like issues, because people could disagree about them. But that only shows that the reasons one gives on one side of a claim can themselves become issues in a further discussion.
1-6, 7. If you're going to buy a computer, you might as well also sign up for some lessons on how to use the thing. After all, no computer ever did any work for its owner until its owner found out how to make it work.
The issue is whether a person who buys a computer should take lessons on its use. The second sentence offers a reason for believing the first.
1-8, 1. Urbanite: The new requirements will force people off septic tanks and make them hook up to the city sewer. That's the only way we'll ever get the nitrates and other pollutants out of the groundwater.
Suburbanite: You call it a requirement, but I call it an outrage! They're going to charge us from five to fifteen thousand dollars each to make the hookups! That's more than anybody in my neighborhood can afford.
Depending on how you define the issue, Suburbanite either speaks to it or misses the point. If the issue is whether to approve the new sewage requirements, they both address it. If the issue is more narrowly whether the new requirements will have good environmental effects, Suburbanite's complaint about the cost misses the point. Why take the issue more narrowly? Because Urbanite's remarks about pollutants support the narrower claim; so Urbanite should be taken as addressing that issue.