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You can identify the issue by turning the conclusion into a question.
To determine the conclusion, ask yourself, “What is this writer or speaker trying to convince me of?”
A passage that only informs is not an argument; the writer or speaker must be trying to convince you of something before it can be called an argument. Note that 2 and 3, 14 and 15, deal with the same information, though only one of each pair is an argument.
1. 1)Carlos must be sick today. 2) He did not show up for work. 3) And he has never missed work unless he was sick. Correct answer:
Argument; Conclusion: 1; The issue is whether Carlos is sick.
2. 1) Fayetteville, North Carolina is a great place to live. 2) The city has many great restaurants and movie theaters, the schools are good, and the weather is never terribly bad. Correct answer:
Argument; Conclusion: 1; The issue is whether Fayetteville is a great place to live.
3. 1) Many U.S. cities have the name of Fayetteville. 2) Fayetteville, North Carolina has the distinction of being the first to be named after the Marquis de Lafayette, the French general who supported the American Revolution, and the only Fayetteville that the famous Marquis visited. Correct answer:
Not an argument; gives information about Fayetteville, but does not try to convince.
4. 1) The United States, as the most powerful nation in the world, has a moral obligation to give assistance to people who are subjected to inhumane treatment. 2) The ethnic Albanians were being persecuted in Kosovo. 3) It was proper for the U.S. to become involved in the air campaign against Kosovo.
Argument; Conclusion-3; The issue is whether it was proper for the U.S. to become involved in the air campaign against Kosovo.
5. 1) The United States government is organized into three branches, the executive, legislative, and the judicial. 2) This structure is designed to ensure checks and balances in the powers of the different branches. Correct answer:
Not an argument; gives information.
6. 1) Ambiguity results either from a wrong choice of words, or a wrong collection of them. 2) In arranging the words in a sentence pay strict attention to the rules of grammar. 3) Place the members which are most nearly related in such a position that their mutual relation will be clearly indicated. From a lecture by Charles W. Chesnutt, 1878 Correct answer:
Not an argument; gives directions for eliminating ambiguity from writing.
7. 1)Students should attend class regularly and punctually. 2) Our research shows that there is a director correlation between good grades and regular class attendance. Correct answer:
Argument; Conclusion – 1; The issue is whether students should attend class regularly and punctually.
8. 1)The last person we hired from Bayview Tech turned out to be a bad employee. 2) I’m not willing to hire anybody else from that school again.
Argument; Conclusion- 2; The issue is whether to hire somebody from Bayview Tech.
9. 1) And here comes the question of whether it is better to be loved rather than feared, or feared rather than loved. 2) It might be answered that we should wish to be both; but 3) since love and fear can hardly exist together, if we must choose between them, 4) it is far safer to be feared than loved. 5) For of men it may generally be affirmed that they are thankless, fickle, false, studious to avoid danger, greedy of gain, devoted to you while you confer benefits upon them, and 6)ready, while the need is remote, to shed their blood, and sacrifice their propoerty, their lives, and their children for you. 7) But, when danger comes near they turn against you. 8) The Prince who builds wholly on their professions of support will be undone. From Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince Correct answer:
Argument; Conclusion – 5; The issue is whether is better for the Prince to be loved or feared.
10. 1) A people needs land for its activities, land for its nourishment. 2) No people needs it as much as the German people which is increasing so rapidly and whose old boundaries have become dangerously narrow. 3) If we do not soon acquire new territories, we are moving toward a frightful catastrophe. Document from Pan-German movement, early 20th century
Argument; Conclusion (unstated) – We must acquire new territories; The issue is whether “we” need to acquire new territories.
11. 1) Marriage has always been a very different thing for man and for woman. 2) The two sexes are necessary to each other, but this necessity has never brought about a condition of reciprocity between them. 3) Women have never constituted a caste making exchanges and contracts with the male caste upon a footing of equality. 4) A man is socially an independent and complete individual. 5) He is regarded first of all as a producer whose existence is justified by the work he does for the group. 6) The reproductive and domestic role to which woman is confined has not guaranteed her an equal dignity. From Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex
Correct answer: Argument; Conclusion – 1; The issue is whether marriage means the same thing for women and men.
12. 1) Paul Kennedy’s The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers has had a remarkable impact in the United States since its publication late last year. 2) It has been widely and almost universally favorably reviewed. 3)Its arguments have been discussed in editorials and opinion columns. 4) One major national magazine ran excerpts as its cover story, while another called it the “book of the year.” From The Times Literary Supplement, March 25, 1988
Correct answer: Not an argument; provides information
13. 1)Television has a disastrous impact on children. 2) It appears to be shortening the attention span of the young. 3) It also seems to be eroding their linguistic powers and ability to handle mathematical symbolism. 4) Television also caused them to be increasingly impatient with deferred gratification. 5)Even more serious, televion is opening all of society’s secrets and taboos, thus erasing the dividing line between childhood and adulthood…. Neil Postman in U.S. News and World Reports, January 19, 1981
Argument; Conclusion – 1; The issue is whether television has a disastrous impact on children.
14. 1) In one half of all traffic deaths in the United States, the driver has been drinking. 2) One third of pedestrians struck and killed by cars were drunk. Driving while intoxicated, or DWI, is illegal in every state. 3) In most states, it is illegal to drive a car if the Blood Alcohol Content is 0.1 percent or greater. 4) In most states, it is illegal to drink alcohol while driving. 5) In some, it is against the law to have an open container of any alcoholic drink inthe car.
Not an argument; provides information.
15. 1) Studies show that even one drink harms vision and reactions. 2)A driver with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 0.05 percent, even though he or she is within the legal limit, is twice as likely to have an accident as a nondrinking dirver. 3) A BAC of 0.1percent increasees the risk of being in an accident by seven times. 4) At BAC 0.15, the risk is ten times greater. 5)You should never drink and drive.
Argument; Conclusion – 5; The issue is whether you should drink and drive.