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Students undertake two argument analysis assessments (15 and 10% each)
In each they consider a different type of text chosen from, for example, popular news programs, poetry, film, lyrics, interest group pronouncements, and reports.


Students apply their knowledge of reasoning and argument in identifying and analysing the arguments of others. They provide evidence and reasons to support or refute counter arguments. Students may compare how evidence for the premises of argument is developed in particular forms (e.g. through symbolism, sound, images, irony, or analogy). Students analyse the logical strength of arguments.



The presentation may be written, oral, or in multimodal form.
An argument analysis assessment should be a maximum of 1000 words if written or a maximum of 7 minutes if oral, or the equivalent in multimodal form.
At least one assessment should be presented in writing.

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Argument Analysis Task One - Tools of the Trade


An analysis of a chapter on the existence of God by William Paley.

Here is the Reading




Here is the Task

  1. Explain the overall concept of Argument by Analogy using the example of the Watchmaker from the reading by Paley as a possible Argument by Analogy.
  2. How can an argument by analogy be supported or countered?
  3. Explain WHETHER Paley uses an analogy to support his belief in an Intelligent Designer. It appears to be on the surface, but why do some argue that it is not an Argument by Analogy.
  4. Evaluate the argument which Paley presents to demonstrate the existence of an Intelligent Designer.

(Suggested length is about 1000 words)

DUE DATE: Wednesday Week 7 (Mar 11) Drafting due a week earlier.


A Summary of the Argument (from David Hume)


  1. The material universe resembles the intelligent productions of human beings in that it exhibits design.
  2. The design in any human artifact is the effect of having been made by an intelligent being.
  3. Like effects have like causes.
  4. Therefore, the design in the material universe is the effect of having been made by an intelligent creator.

And this....
Rev. William Paley argued that there were strong similarities between complex structures that we find in Nature (such as the eye) and human artifacts, such as a watch. The human eye is like a machine, he claimed. So are the other organs of the body. But we already know from observation that mechanical artifacts, such as watches, are invariably designed by intelligent beings – namely, human beings. Operating on the principle, “like effects, like causes,” we can infer by analogy that complex organs, such as the eye, were probably made by an Intelligent Designer, Who is like a human being, but much, much smarter. Since this inference is based on an inductive argument (rather than a deductive one) which makes use of an analogy, its conclusion is not absolutely certain. Nevertheless, maintained Paley, it is extremely probable that an Intelligent Designer exists. Paley then went on to argue that since the whole world is rather like a giant watch, we may legitimately conclude that the universe was made by a Designer – a Cosmic Watchmaker, if you like.


A Summary and Analysis from the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Paley's Argument


There are plenty of sources of analysis of this argument. Here is a good place to start....Watchmaker clockmakers.jpg

And another.... Paley


Here is a long explanation about why the Paley Analogy may not be an analogical argument (http://goo.gl/I1ZBN0)

Myth Two: Paley’s argument for a Designer in his Natural Theology is an argument from analogy.
Fact: Paley’s argument is not based on any analogy. He doesn’t say that the complex organs found in living things are like artifacts; he says that they are the same as artifacts in certain vital respects. In particular, these complex organs share several common properties with artifacts: “properties, such as relation to an end, relation of parts to one another, and to a common purpose” (Natural Theology. 12th edition. J. Faulder: London, 1809, Chapter XXIII, p. 413), or as he puts it elsewhere, “[a]rrangement, disposition of parts, subserviency of means to an end, [and] relation of instruments to a use” (Natural Theology. 12th edition. J. Faulder: London, 1809, Chapter II, p. 11). Paley refers to the organs of the body as “contrivances,” precisely because they share these vital properties with man-made artifacts. (For the benefit of Thomist readers who may be wondering, I should point out that Paley is fully aware of the intrinsic teleology of living things, and that he repeatedly refers to “final causes” in his Natural Theology.)
Next, Paley argues that intelligence is the only known adequate cause of objects possessing the combination of properties found in artifacts and complex organs. Our experience tells us that that no other cause, apart from intelligence, is capable of producing effects possessing these properties. Paley concludes that the complex organs of living creatures (such as the eye) must therefore have had an Intelligent Designer. In his own words:

For Paley, the inference to design, upon seeing a contrivance, is immediate:
  • This mechanism being observed (it requires indeed an examination of the instrument, and perhaps some previous knowledge of the subject, to perceive and understand it; but being once, as we have said, observed and understood), the inference, we think, is inevitable, that the watch must have had a maker…
  • Nor would it, I apprehend, weaken the conclusion, that we had never seen a watch made; that we had never known an artist capable of making one; that we were altogether incapable of executing such a piece of workmanship ourselves, or of understanding in what manner it was performed…
  • Ignorance of this kind exalts our opinion of the unseen and unknown artist’s skill, if he be unseen and unknown, but raises no doubt in our minds of the existence and agency of such an artist, at some former time, and in some place or other. (Chapter I, pp. 3-4)
Here is another link to the the Argument by Analogy support website logo- clear thinking.jpg

Performance Standards for this Task RA2, CA1, C1, C2

Some Sample Tasks for your perusal. These are from a different topic, but you will see some of the key features that led to their particular grading as either an A or a C.



Argument Analysis Task Two - "What's Wrong with Killing?" an analysis


Here is the Reading - see the handout from Term 3.
The Article

Here is the task.

Read the Handout, “What’s wrong with killing?” by Peter Singer in Practical Ethics. Cambridge University Press 1993

  1. Identify the primary argument of the chapter, including simplifying it to standard form.
  2. How does Singer identify and evaluate a counter argument to his position?
  3. Analyse and evaluate one of the arguments which you identified in either question 1 or 2.

Length – 800-1000 words

Due Date: Wednesday October 23 (Week 2, Term 4)

Performance Standards for this Task RA2, CA1, C1, C2

STOP PRESS

A few samples from previous classes for your perusal.








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Samples Here are some samples from the SACE Board for an Argument Analysis task with an 'A' and 'C' sample.