I’m working on a philosophy multi-part question and need a sample draft to help me study.
For each of the following passages, determine whether it is an argument, a description, or an explanation
(if you find an explanation, do not forget to say which kind it is). Clearly describe what the ‘take home
message’ is from the passage. Provide a detailed justification for your classification of each passage.
Please ensure that you make explicit any assumptions that your answers rely upon.
1) As a generalization we can say that our theories tend to be abandoned when they are no longer useful,
and that they cease to be useful when they cannot predict the consequences of actions in which we are
interested better than the next best alternative. When this happens the theory is abandoned and replaced
by the superior alternative. In the process of upsetting existing theories we learn new, surprising facts.
– Lipsey, R. (1963), An Introduction to Positive Economics, (5th Ed.), (Weidenfield and
Nicolson, London), p. 14.
2) The idea of a method that contains firm, unchanging and absolutely binding principles for conducting
the business of science meets considerable difficulty when confronted with the results of historical
research. We find, then, that there is not a single rule, however plausible, and however firmly grounded in
epistemology that is not violated at some time or other. It becomes evident that such violations are not
accidental events, they are not results of insufficient knowledge or inattention which might have been
avoided. On the contrary, we see that they are necessary for progress.
– Feyerabend, P. (1975), Against Method, (3rd Ed.), (Verso, London), p. 14.
3) Miss X., fifteen years old, spent several months at the Longchamps hydro-therapy institution at
Bordeaux during the winter of 1883, where she was treated for convulsive attacks of chorea and
ejaculations of loud vulgar and obscene words. Miss X. was very intelligent, she learned the lessons given
her by her teacher with the greatest ease, and she played the piano well. She was tall and largely built. She
was not well disciplined.
– Kolb, B. and Whishaw, I. (1980), Fundamentals of Human Neuropsychology, (2nd Ed.), (W. H.
Freeman and Co, New York), p. 278.
Standardize the following passages, having first explicitly considered whether or not the passages contain
arguments. Be sure to use exactly the methods discussed in class. Make sure you clearly indicate added
premises and conclusions in the appropriate manner. Keep an eye out for sub-arguments and any parts of
the argument that have been omitted. Once you have completed the standardization, draw a diagram for
6) If a band has song titles like “Uncle Sam’s on Mars”, and “Space is Deep”, then it is likely that it is a
space rock band. The band Hawkwind uses both these song titles. If a band is a space rock band, then it is
not likely that they will have many acoustic, instrumental, songs. So, if a band is a space rock band, then
they will probably use multiple synthesizers and electric guitars with effects, as indeed Hawkwind does.
7) If an animal is a cat, then it is usually a carnivore and carnivores eat meat. At my house, we have an
animal called Onyx. Onyx looks like a cat. However, Onyx does not like meat. Instead, she likes lettuce,
especially red lettuce. So, appearances notwithstanding, there is an obvious conclusion.
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