Passage Analysis Techniques

Topics: Logic, Critical thinking, Argumentative Pages: 5 (1652 words) Published: July 20, 2012
Passage Analysis Techniques
 Passage Analysis Techniques (Short Version)
Step One:  Read the Passage and Identify the Main Conclusion Step Two:  Begin to assemble claims that seem to relate to one another as arguments Step Three:  Diagram sub-arguments and express in standard form Step Four:  Identify any hidden premises/conclusions and assumptions Step Five: Use sub-argument conclusions to construct main argument Step Six: Identify any important and relevant concepts included in the passage Step Seven:  Formulate the key conceptual question for the passage Step Eight:  Do your own mini conceptual analysis using the key conceptual question MICRO-EVALUATION OF ARGUMENT

Step Nine: Compare the author’s use of those same concepts you studied in your mini conceptual analysis. Evaluate the use of them. Step Ten:  Begin evaluating non-conceptual claims for their relevance, acceptability and sufficiency Step Eleven:  Look for any informal logical fallacies in the passage Step Twelve:  Examine and evaluate how well the author dealt with objections to their own arguments MACRO-EVALUATION OF ARGUMENT

Step Thirteen: Evaluate the overall success of the argument
Step Fourteen: Determine what you will include in your paper for your critical analysis. Organize and sequence arguments, objections, counter-criticisms. Step Fifteen:  Write Paper

Passage Analysis Techniques (Expanded)
Step One:  Read the Passage and Identify the Main Conclusion Go over the passage several times and try to determine the main point. What is the thesis?  Helpful hints:  Look for indicator words to determine what’s a supporting premise and what’s a conclusion. Circle them.  Also, bracket and number the claims in the passage – if not too long. Step Two:  Begin to assemble claims that seem to relate to one another as arguments Establish what’s a premise and what’s a conclusion. See which paragraphs simply give description and context etc., and which give reasons for conclusions. Individual sub-arguments are often found in different paragraphs. Step Three:  Identify any hidden premises/conclusions and assumptions Enthymemes may exist in arguments.  Make important implicit claims explicit. Unstated claims, upon which conclusions rest, may be problematic or questionable for a variety of reasons. What’s assumed and unstated in an argument is sometimes as important as what is explicitly stated. Include any “important” unstated claims in your standard form representations (Hp1)_________ or (Hc1)_______________

Step Four:  Diagram extended passages and express in standard form If there are several conclusions in the passage, use the “because” technique to determine which conclusion serves as a premise for another conclusion:  Is conclusion “A”  in paragraph one true because of conclusion “B” in paragraph two or is “B” true because of “A”.  This technique can also be used with related claims forming an argument but having no indicator words. Also ask, “Is either A or B the final conclusion or do they both support yet another conclusion?” Step Five: Start assembling arguments found in the passage

In longer passages, there are typically numerous sub-arguments to support the main conclusion.  For instance, the conclusion that, “Marijuana should be legalized” may be supported by economic, free choice, and human health and safety sub-arguments all intended to justify the conclusion about marijuana. To make things manageable, it is often useful to diagram these shorter sub-arguments to see their structure. Putting several different lines of argument in one diagram can become far too complex and hence confusing.  Taking shorter individual arguments and expressing them in standard form allows us to see and understand the relevant claims supporting the intermediate conclusion, whether it be about the economy, free choice or human health in this case.  The conclusions of these sub-arguments are the premises for the main conclusion.  It is useful to gather together the...
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