Analysis of an Argument In Attacking Faulty Reasoning, T. Edward Dame defines an argument as a group of statements, one or more of which (the premises) support or provide evidence for another (the conclusion). The premises of an argument are those statements that together constitute the grounds for affirming the conclusion. To more clearly understand the argument given in the news release from the Normaltown paper, it should be placed in an easier to read form, consisting of just the premises and conclusions. The Normaltown paper states this argument: Since the percentage of graduating seniors that passed the standardized basic-skills exam has increased from 85% in 98-99 to 92% in 99-00, And, the new computer programs to drill students in basic skills were purchased for the 99-00 school year, Therefore, the 7% increase of students that passed the exam was due to the purchase of the new computer programs, And, the computerized materials provide the best possible education for the students, And, the budget for computerized instructional materials should be increased by at least 50%. A fallacy is an argument involving bad reasoning, or an error in argument.
The argument provided by Jane Johnson, superintendent of Normaltown School District, is not a good argument due to a couple of reasons. The amount of evidence given to support each of these conclusions is not near enough to provide a good argument. Also, the post hoc fallacy is used to support the conclusion. The post hoc fallacy consists in assuming that a particular event is caused by another event, simply because it proceeds it in time. Johnsons only evidence as to why the 7% increase was caused by the computer programs is because the increase took place the year after the computer programs were purchased. This evidence alone is not near enough to support the argument.
For example, if possible, the argue could have stated that the new computer programs were the only teaching devices used in preparing the students for the exam. By giving this evidence, she could have proven that the computer programs alone were responsible for preparing the students for the exam. Also, the increase was of only 7%, not a drastic amount, and could have been caused by a more intelligent or more diligently working group of students, or perhaps caused simply by chance. The arguer gives no evidence to refute these possible attacks.
The conclusion that the funding for computerized instructional materials should be increased is invalid because it stems from the earlier conclusion, which is flawed. The reason given as to why funding should be increased is because the students test scores will be increased. However, the argument that the computer programs were responsible for the increased percentage of students passing is imperfect. This conclusion would be valid if there was more evidence to support it, or if the statement it stems from was not flawed. Although this argument may in fact be true, it is flawed.
The support and evidence given is not near enough for this argument to be considered orthodox. The conclusions are not supported and the reasoning contains fallacies. Therefore, this argument is not sound.