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A Rulebook for Arguments - AAS

Page history last edited by ShareRiff 12 years, 8 months ago

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I found this editorial in today's St. Petersburg Times after reading chapter one and the appendix of A Rulebook for Arguments. The editorial compares how well the German economy is recovering as compared to the American recovery and examines reasons for each country's current economic status. Although it delivers the argument that political division is getting in the way of the American recovery, the article runs through several premises and conclusions to do so.


In the following excerpt, the author of the editorial asserts that policymakers have not maximized the advantages in the American economic model. While this conclusion may or may not be true, it is poorly supported by a poorly constructed premise.


"In the United States, policymakers inherited a different economic model, one that also has certain advantages. It fosters disruptive innovation (of the sort useful in Silicon Valley). It also has certain disadvantages — a penchant for overconsumption and short-term thinking. Over the past decade, American policymakers have done little to maximize their model's natural advantages or address its problems. Indeed, they've only made the short-term thinking problem worse, with monetary, fiscal and home ownership policies encouraging even more borrowing and consumption."


Rule 4 in our book tells the writer to "concrete and concise" (Weston 5). The editorial mentions an economic model that it does not clearly define, yet seeks to classify it as different. Without any further clarification, this term is, as Weston advises against, "abstract, vague, and general." Because the mention of the economic model breaks Rule 4 with its vagueness, the reader is not only left unsure as to it definition, but also when it came into being and just how long ago it was inherited.


Rule 5 states that an argument must be built on "substance, not overtone" (Weston 5). The editorial is using potentially baited language when stating that policymakers inherited the current economic model. The term inherited has been utilized quite frequently by the current administration to deny culpability for any negative current condition by placing the blame for the condition on the previous administration's shoulders.  Without the clarity of definition, this premise seems to be delivered with a particular, and oft used, overtone.

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