Argument and critical thinking

| February 12, 2014

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For this question I want two totally different answers each answer has two pages so it will be 4 pages in total.
Question 1 ? Argument/Statistical Analysis (25 marks)
Use the Argument Analysis Checklist at the end of this paper to analyse the following newspaper article. You will need to:
Standardize the argument
Evaluate the argument and truth claims
Identify if there are any unsupported claims
State whether or not the argument can be refuted, and explain your answer
Analyse the inductive reasoning used
In your own words explain the results of your analysis with your own conclusions (with supporting premises)
Outcry as private schools approved
Canberra Times
Date: May 8, 2013
The ACT government has approved three new private schools – two Christian and one Islamic – to be built in the ACT despite vehement protests from public education groups that they threaten the viability of government schools and could ”cannibalise” enrolments.
The Australian Education Union and Save Our Schools Lobby are also furious that the government has made no public announcement on the approvals despite ACT Education Minister Joy Burch giving the green light in December 2012.
Brindabella Christian College has been allowed to establish a campus at the old Charnwood High School, while the Seventh Day Adventist-run Canberra Christian College will build a school in the new Molonglo suburb of Wright, and the At Taqwa Islamic School has been approved for Gungahlin.
A spokesman for Ms Burch said the approvals could be found on the Education Directorate website and did not warrant a press release.
The union’s ACT branch secretary Glenn Fowler condemned government ”secrecy” surrounding the decision saying there had been high community interest in the outcome.
”The fact that vast sums of public money will be used to subsidise these private creations means that the public must be informed of the ACT government’s decisions,” he said.
Save Our Schools campaigner Trevor Cobbold said the the decision would draw enrollments from existing schools in Belconnen, add to excess capacity and threaten the future of some schools.
”The minister’s approval of a new school in Belconnen defies all logic. It contradicts the government’s own long-term policy to reduce excess school capacity in the region,” he said. Both believed it was insulting to the public to approve a private school in Belconnen after the distressing closure of Flynn Primary School in 2006.
”Cannibalisation is the only possible outcome,” Mr Fowler said. ”This represents a significant shift in priorities and members of the public should have a genuine say as to whether this is the way they want the ACT to go.”
Mr Cobbold said the new Brindabella Christian School campus in Charnwood would be within a few hundred metres of Charnwood-Dunlop and St Thomas Aquinas Primary schools. Flynn Primary – just over a kilometre away – was closed despite public outcry because the government said there was over-capacity in the region.
Mr Cobbold said there was no case for another private school in Belconnen given there were nearly 2000
excess places in government schools in north-west Belconnen and projected population growth in Belconnen to 2021 was estimated at only 0.3 per cent a year, compared with the ACT average of 1.4 per cent.
But Ms Burch countered that the latest ACT school census showed North Belconnen enrolments had shown continued growth – up by 135 students this year. At Taqwa Islamic School’s application indicated Belconnen or Gungahlin as potential sites, but approval has been limited to Gungahlin.
While Mr Cobbold accused the directorate of failing to adequately assess the impact on schools as required by the ACT Education Act 2004, Ms Burch said she followed the act’s requirements and it provided ”limited grounds” on which an application could be refused.
She invited the union and Save Our Schools to make submissions for changes to the decision-making process with respect to approvals of non-government schools. ”The government’s firm belief is the continued growth and community confidence in government schools is achieved through our continued investment ? in quality teachers, and quality infrastructure,” she said. ”It is not achieved by stifling the growth of the non-government sector.”
And this is an example of the question
1. YOU SHOULD ATTEMPT ALL QUESTIONS of this exam paper.
2. Commence the answer to each question on a new page of your answer book.
3. Statistical tables will be supplied.
4. Write all of your answers in the script book. If you require more than one script book please contact the exam supervisor.
Question 1 ? Argument/Statistical Analysis (25 marks)
Use the Argument Analysis Checklist at the end of this paper to analyse the following newspaper article. You will need to Standardise the argument
Evaluate the argument and truth claims
Identify if there are any unsupported claim Can you refute the argument or not? (explain why)
Analyse the inductive reasoning used
In your own words explain the results of your analysis with your own conclusions (with supporting premises)
THE Baillieu Government’s law and order credentials have been dealt a substantial blow, with the latest crime figures showing a double-digit increase in violent crimes across Victoria including assault, homicide, rape and abduction.
The release of the Victoria Police crime figures for last financial year show that the crime rate increased by 6.8 per cent and the total number of offences by 8.2 per cent.
While the government can point to a reduction in crime on public transport as evidence that an increased police presence on trains is working, it faces escalating rates of family violence, organised crime and drug-related offences.
There were 42,076 assaults recorded by police for the 2011/12 financial year and 2044 rapes. Of those, nearly four in 10 were classified as "family incident-related." Victorian Police Chief Commissioner Ken Lay has previously identified family violence as a priority for his command.
"It’s a huge concern to police – and to me personally – that family violence is still contributing to a significant portion of crime," Mr Lay said today. "There were almost 10,000 more family incident reports submitted by police last year.
"This is an issue the whole community should be concerned about."
Mr Lay said statistics for drug offences and crimes such as burglary and theft suggested a proliferation of drugs in the community, particularly cannabis and amphetamines. He said evidence of an increase in organised crime could be found in the growing numbers for car thefts.
Premier Ted Baillieu was elected on a tough law and order platform, which followed concerns over alcohol-fuelled assaults in Melbourne’s CBD and attacks on foreign students.
The previous chief commissioner, Simon Overland, quit his post after a damning Ombudsman’s report found he authorised the release of incomplete and unreliable crime statistics on the eve of the 2010 state election.
Study notes:
THIS IS A SAMPLE ANSWER ONLY!!
Argument analyses and critical thinking results in a myriad of possible answers to questions like this. The process of argument analysis is one thing, however the way a student thinks about the premises, conclusions and what it all means, can vary significantly. The answers here are a guide only. Students may come up with other solutions that are perfectly valid. Staff marking the exam will consider your answers to determine if they are OK or not.
The question will be marked according to what we expect from critical thinking:
?the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skilfully conceptualising, applying, analysing, synthesizing and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generalised by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning or communication, as a guide to belief or action [or argument]? (Scriven and Paul, 2001)
Standardising the argument (5 marks)
Major premises (should list 4 or 5 ? 1 mark):
1. Crime figures show that in the last financial year show that the crime rate increased by 6.8 per cent and the total number of offences by 8.2 per cent
2. There were 42,076 assaults recorded by police for the 2011/12 financial year and 2044 rapes. Of those, nearly four in 10 were classified as "family incident-related."
3. Growing numbers of car thefts
4. Premier Ted Baillieu was elected on a tough law and order platform
5. Concerns over alcohol-fuelled assaults in Melbourne’s CBD and attacks on foreign students
6. Reduction in crime on public transport
7. The previous chief commissioner quit his post after a damning Ombudsman’s report found he authorised the release of incomplete and unreliable crime statistics on the eve of the 2010 state election
Major subconclusions (should list at least two, if they are listed as premises half marks?1 mark):
8. The latest crime figures showing a double-digit increase in violent crimes across Victoria including assault, homicide, rape and abduction
9. An increased police presence on trains is working (5, 6)
10. Family violence is still contributing to a significant portion of crime ?. almost 10,000 more family incident reports submitted by police last year (2)
11. This is an issue the whole community should be concerned about (1)
12. Statistics for drug offences and crimes such as burglary and theft suggested a proliferation of drugs in the community, particularly cannabis and amphetamines (1 ? maybe?)
13. Increase in organised crime (3)
Main conclusion (Something along these lines ? 1 mark):
14. Victoria Police statistics deal blow to Baillieu on law and order (1, 2, 3, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13)
15. THE Baillieu Government’s law and order credentials have been dealt a substantial blow (1, 2, 3, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13)
Parenthetical justifications ? 2 marks
Evaluating the argument and truth claims (5 marks)
? There is no reason to believe the premises are not true, though inspecting the Victoria Police statistics would help. The article seems to give a reasonable list of statistics
? The reasoning is neither deductively valid nor inductively strong for a number of reasons:
o Premises 1 to 3 with subconclusions 8, 10, 12, and 13 make the conclusion likely;
o Premises 5 and 6 with subconclusions 9 to 10 tend to support an opposing view,
o Is car theft a good indicator of organised crime?
o Subconclusion 8 (?double-digit increase?) is not substantiated with statistics. In fact only family crime is shown to have increased by more than two digits. The rest the article expects the reader just to accept
Is the increase in family crime real, or is it just being reported more? Comparisons to other states over the same period may provide an indication
The argument is fair in the way it presents opposing premises, however drawing the conclusion is largely unsubstantiated with supporting premises
Unsupported claims (2 marks)
Subconclusion 8 (?double-digit increase?) is not substantiated by anything except for the measures on family violence. The claim on family violence may be due to it being more acceptable to report were there community awareness or advertising campaigns? If we take out the figures on family violence, what would the % increases be (we don?t know the actual counts of any of the other crimes).
Subconclusion 12 about drug proliferation has a weak link to premise one, and nothing else.
Subconclusion 13 ? is car theft really a primary measure of organised crime?
Refuting the argument (5 marks)
The argument can be refuted as the premises do not provide adequate logical support for subconclusion 8, and therefore the conclusion.
Analysis of the inductive reasoning (3 marks)
The argument is weak as the conclusion is not likely as a result of all the premises put forward. The sample size is not known, nor is the makeup of the crimes (before and after). However, given the report was from the Victoria Police, it may be representative sample than otherwise of crime rates, however premise 7 suggests that political pressure can influence the numbers being reported (ie the Victoria Police looking for more funding? A report like this can pressure the government to do so ? so they have a vested interest).
Results (5 marks)
In analysing this report, I find that the conclusion made is supported by premises and subconclusions that in themselves are flawed. The lack of actual numbers on a number of categories of crime is concerning and only the most extreme (family violence) is given (and may not be reliable with nothing to compare it against, or other factors mentioned previously). This report could be improved if figures were given on all categories of crime, information on whether there were campaigns on reporting family violence, and a judgment on whether the Victoria Police have a vested interest in this, cloud my view on whether to accept the bad news in this report.

Here is the checklist
ARGUMENT ANALYSIS CHECKLIST
Standardising the argument Read the argument carefully. Identify the main conclusion (which may be implied) and any major premises and subconclusions. Paraphrase as needed to clarify meaning (remember a good paraphrase is clear, concise, accurate, and charitable) Omit any unnecessary or irrelevant material
Identify any key missing premises and conclusions List the steps in the argument in correct logical order (ie. With the premises placed above the conclusions they are intended to support). Number the steps
Add justifications for each conclusion in the argument (for each conclusion or subconclusion, indicate in parentheses from which previous lines in the argument the conclusion or subconclusion is claimed to directly follow)
Evaluate the argument and truth claims
Are the premises true?
Is the reasoning correct? Is the argument deductively valid (ie. the conclusion necessarily follows from the premises) or inductively strong (ie. The premises make the conclusion likely)? Does the arguer commit and logical fallacies?Does the arguer express his or her points clearly and precisely?
Are the premises relevant to the conclusion?
Are the arguer?s claims logically consistent? Do any of the arguer?s claims contradict other claims made in the argument?
Is the argument complete? Is all relevant evidence taken into account (given understandable limitations of time, space, context, and so on)?
Is the argument fair? Is the arguer fair in his or her presentation of the evidence and treatment of opposing arguments and views?
Unsupported claims
In general, it is reasonable to accept an unsupported claim as true when:
(1) the claim does not conflict with personal experiences that we have no good reason to doubt,
(2) the claim does not conflict with background beliefs that we have no good reason to doubt, and
(3) the claim comes from a credible source.
Refuting an argument
To refute an argument is to defeat it?to show that the premises do not provide good reasons to accept the conclusion. There are two ways to refute an argument:
(1) show that a premise?or a critical group of premises?is false or dubious, or
(2) show that the reasoning is bad?that the premises do not provide adequate logical support for the conclusion.
Two often effective strategies for showing that a premise is false are:
(1) reducing to the absurd
Reducing to the absurd seeks to refute a claim by showing that the claim implies something
that is obviously false or absurd
(2) refutation by counterexample.
Refutation by counterexample attempts to show that a general claim (i.e., a claim of the form ?All A?s are B?s? or ?Most A?s are B?s?) is false by producing one or more counterexamples?that is, examples or exceptions that demonstrate that the claim is false.
The second way to refute an argument is to show that its reasoning is bad?that the premises, even if they are conceded to be true, fail to provide sufficient logical support for the conclusion. Many real-life arguments can be refuted by showing that the argument omits crucial countervailing evidence ?that is, evidence or information not mentioned by the arguer that points to a different or contrary conclusion.
Inductive reasoning
Inductive arguments ?arguments whose premises are intended to provide support, but not conclusive evidence, for the conclusion.
An inductive argument is strong when its premises provide evidence that its conclusion is more likely true than false. An inductive argument is weak when its premises do not provide evidence that its conclusion is more likely true than false.
Inductive generalisations
An inductive generalization is an argument that relies on characteristics of a sample population to make a claim about the population as a whole.
Evaluating inductive generalisations:
Are the premises true?
Is the sample large enough?
Is the sample representative?
Arguments from analogy
Consider these things in evaluating the strength of an argument from analogy:
The truth of the premises
The relevance of the similarities
The number of relevant similarities
The relevance of dissimilarities
The number of relevant dissimilarities
The diversity of the sample, especially with increased sample size
The specificity of the conclusion relative to the premises
Cause and Correlation
Remember ? sometimes, but not always, a correlation is a sign of a cause-and-effect relationship. Correlation can always be the result of mere coincidence, and most of the time it is.
Bassham, G., Irwin, W., Nardone, H., Wallace, J.M., 2008, Critical Thinking ? A Student?s Introduction, 3rd edition, McGraw-Hill
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