Exercise 9

Part I: Argumentative Relevance
Each of the items below contains an argument and a statement. For each item:
1) Put the argument in standard form, and
2) Say (a) whether the statement is relevant to the argument, and if it is, (b) what type of relevance it has.

1. Argument: Illegal immigrants are a drain on this nation's resources. They take the jobs of hardworking Americans and siphon what money they do make back to their home countries instead of putting it back into the local economy. What's worse, they use public services like schools, clinics, and the post office, but don't pay any taxes that support these these things. They should all be sent home immediately.

Statement: Some important industries in America, like hotels and restaurants and agriculture, are economically dependent on illegal immigrants because they make up a substantial portion of the workforce in jobs that most Americans will not do for the same level of pay.

2. Argument: People that think television is junk are elitists. The fact is that television gives the people what they want, and what the people want is "reality TV" shows like "Survivor" and "American Idol". If television is junk, it's the audience that makes it so. So people who think that television is junk are really saying that the audience has no class.

Statement: There is a well-established correlation between the number of hours a person watches television every week and that person's overall health such that the more TV a person watches, the less healthy he or she is.

Part II: Dialogical Relevance: Questions and Answers
Consider the questions asked at line 3 in the dialogues given below. Is the question relevant? Is the response given to the question appropriate in light of the question's relevance (or irrelevance)? Defend your answer.


1 Sam: I'm glad to see that the war on drugs is expanding. We've got to do something to curb the flow of illegal substances into our country where it destroys our poorest neighborhoods.
2 Dave: I disagree, Sam. The so-called "war on drugs" is just an excuse to throw a lot of people in jail and waste a lot of taxpayer money. I think it's oppressive of individual liberty too.
3 Sam:You haven't stopped getting high have you?
4 Dave: Give me a break, Sam. That's seriously out of line.


1 Martha: You can say whatever you like, but I just think that gay marriage is wrong and should not be legal.
2 Diana: Martha, you are concerned over nothing. You aren't gay. It's not like legalizing gay marriage means that you have to become gay. I don't see how what gay people do or don't do is any of your business at all.
3 Martha: But the nuclear family is the foundation of society. Allowing gays to get married changes all of that. Or do you really think that allowing gays to marry won't change the whole social dynamic in which we live?
4 Diana: Actually, Martha, I don't. Of course gay people will be more visible, since they won't have to keep who they are a secret, but if you really think about it you'll quickly realize that the plain fact is that most people aren't gay. Being gay is a matter of biology, not of choice. If you think about it scientifically, the proportion of gay people to straight people probably doesn't really change that much over time since there are no biological pressures to be gay. That means there's no reason to think that there will be any more or less heterosexual nuclear families than there are now. So no, I don't think allowing gays to marry will do much of anything to our social dynamic—except perhaps make it more tolerant, and I approve of that.

Part III: Fallacies of Relevance
Consider the dialogue given below, and ascertain whether or not a fallacy of relevance has occurred. If you think one has occurred, say which type (i.e. ignoratio elenchi, straw man, or red herring) and support your judgment.


1 Jake: I can't believe people aren't up in arms about the increased security measures in airports.
2 Elwood: Why? Those measures are necessary to stop terrorism. A little inconvenience is a small price to pay for making sure that your plane isn't blown up by an extremist.
3 Jake: That's just it, Elwood. I don't think these measures make that any less likely than it was before. Change the security measures however you like: it will only be a matter of time until the terrorists figure out how to get around them.
4 Elwood: Your attitude is defeatist, Jake. You need to step back for a minute and think about the thousands of people that lost their lives on September 11 in 2001. We have to make absolutely certain that nothing like that ever happens again. It is every American’s job to do everything it takes to see that the terrorists are defeated.
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