Exercise 0.5

Instructions: Read each mini-dialogue and answer the questions given below it accordingly.


Dave and Mary are a married couple deliberating over who will pick up their kids from school.

1 Dave: I've got a meeting at 2 this afternoon. I don't think I will be able to make it to school on time once the meeting is over.
2 Mary: You should have told me that this morning. If you had, I would not have promised my mother at lunchtime that I would take her to the drugstore to pick up her prescription this afternoon.

1. To which of the following propositions do you think Mary is committed? Explain why in each case:

(a) Dave did not tell Mary about his meeting this morning.
(b) Dave knew about Mary's promise.
(c) Dave knew he was going to have a meeting today before he left for the office.
(d) It is wrong to break promises.
(e) Dave is a bad husband.


Alonso is the public relations manager for a large chemical firm, giving a press conference about a proposed plant to be built in an impoverished area of a developing country next to a pristine wilderness.

1 Reporter: Your company's proposition is unconscionable. What makes you think you can come to a poor country and ruin its natural resources.
2 Alonso: Your question is mistaken. Our plan is not to ruin the area's resources but to help its residents make a living.

2. Is Alonso right in his characterization of the reporter's question (in other words, is the reporter really committed to the proposition that Alonso indicates)?

3. Suppose Alonso is a committed environmentalist in his personal life and actually is revolted by his company's plan. Is he still committed to defend it? Why or why not?


Juan is a tax lawyer who has been arguing that the government doesn't do enough for small business. Kylie is an executive who has been advocating the opposite view.

1 Juan: Kylie, you just cannot convince me that the tax code is fair when it comes to small business. The big guys can hire whole armies of people like me to reduce their tax burden. Your average "mom and pop" operation cannot. The government knows this, so it structures the tax code to fall most heavily on those it knows will pay them.
2 Kylie: I grant you your point that the tax code may disproportionately affect small business owners and in that sense that the government is unfair when it comes to small business, but that's not the whole story. You have to look at things like investments in infrastructure, "renaissance zones", special loan structures, and things like that to really see that our society isn't picking on small business any more than it is big business.
3 Juan: That may be so, but big business takes advantage of a lot of those things too!

4. How would you characterize Kylie's move at line 2. What is she doing there, in terms of commitments?

5. What commitments might Juan accrue as a result of what he says at line 3?

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