Preparing for the checkpoint

Even though arguments come in all shapes and sizes, for the sake of practice, let's put everything together in a very simple form, a kind of toy argument.

For this lesson's checkpoint, we'll make a simple valuational argument with the following structure:

  • Valuational issue & claim
  • Evidence (criteria & match) 1
  • Evidence (criteria & match) 2
  • Rebuttal (respond to objections)
  • Conclude however you want

Before you write your own, on the next page, let's look at an example here.

We need something to argue about, so we're going to use this image as inspiration for an argument about a general trend:

Vintage Darling pet monkey ad

*Valuational argument about a general trend*

Every Christmas and every birthday, kids all around the country are asking their parents for a pet. And parents, thinking they'll be easier to look after than a dog or cat, are buying pet monkeys and raccoons. But monkeys and raccoons make terrible pets!

First, no good pet should have hands! Good pets have paws or fins, nothing that can cause trouble. Once your pet has hands they'll be driving cars, opening safes, and ordering loot boxes online without permission, causing untold chaos and expense — and monkeys and raccoons have four hands each!

Second, good pets respect authority but monkeys and raccoons are born criminals. These animals are foragers, which means they live to find not only food, but toys, nesting materials, souvenirs, and status symbols. Good pets will respect your property and your authority; thousands of crime reports across the country prove that monkeys and raccoons respect neither.

Some people say that these terrible pets can be trained. However, animal researchers at the Southeast Zoo have been trying to socialise monkeys and raccoons for 20 years and have published numerous studies showing these animals are untameable, if not outright hostile to all mankind.

In conclusion, parents around the country are woefully misinformed if they think monkeys and raccoons are good pets. While they might be cheap and plentiful, their advanced dexterity and vacant morals mean they are a bad choice for any family hoping to be happy.

  • Issue: Parents are buying monkeys and raccoons thinking they are easy pets.
  • Valuational claim: Monkeys and raccoons are bad pets!

Justifying a valuational claim requires criteria & match reasoning. This argument presents two criteria and matching evidence:

  • Criterion 1: Good pets do not have hands. (This is a negative criterion, meaning something has to be absent for a member to match.) Monkeys and raccoons do not match because they not only have 2 hands, they arguably have 4!
  • Criterion 2: Good pets are obedient. Monkeys and raccoons do not match because they are born criminals.
  • Anticipating possible rebuttals: The argument addresses challenges that these animals are trainable and supplies additional evidence (published studies).
  • Conclusion: A mix of restating the claim, adding some limits (these animals are cheap and convenient to order), and explicitly stating the reason.

For comparison, here's another Balderdash-style argument but this time we'll make a causal argument (using cause & effect reasoning) about a specific situation, using this image as inspiration:

Dinosaurs escape fiery jungle

*Causal argument about a specific situation*

I think we'd all like to get to the bottom of what happened in the allosaur enclosure last Tuesday. Needless to say, the fires caused a lot of damage, and the family of the visitor eaten by one of the escaped dinos intends to sue. I believe I have found the explanation; unfortunately, that explanation is Trevor's vaping habit.

Trevor was seen sneaking around the back of the enclosure at 2pm. Thermal vision caught footage of his vape fumes. Shortly after, the fire broke out.

The Fumidor 2000 is known for its faulty electronics and I believe Trevor's vape gave him a shock to the hand, making him drop the vape near the rear fence, here on the map, where the grass has lately been tall and dry.

Sparks from the short-circuiting vape ignited the grass, and the conflagration spread rapidly outward from this point, in all directions. The rest is clear: a hectare of artificial jungle destroyed, and the western fence flattened by panicking allosaurs, who then ate our guest.

We can rule out weather: there was no lightning. We can rule out the guests: they were all searched as part of the emergency procedures.

We cannot rule out electrical faults in the fence, however there is no evidence to suggest this is the case, or explanation as to why the fire would spread from this point if the fence were the cause.

Instead, we have footage of Trevor going to this position, vaping away, and we have THIS melted vape found at the scene as evidence! He is the only logical cause!

  • You'll notice that because this is a causal argument ("How did this happen?"), the evidence in this argument is all about substantiating a chain of cause & effect that can explain the fire.
  • The rebuttal has a limit and includes some more evidence.
  • And the conclusion restates the evidence and claim.