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"Half of the American population believes that the universe is 6000 years old. They are wrong about this. Declaring them so is not 'irreligious intolerance'. It is intellectual honesty."

-Excerpt from Introduction to Logic, page no.12. (the author quotes Sam Harris's Letter to a Christian Nation for showing arguments or it's premises and conclusions hidden in a context)

  • Just for clarification, who wrote the text you are quoting? The page number would also be useful to find the quote if it is not available online. Welcome to Philosophy! – Frank Hubeny Dec 24 '18 at 14:06
  • I know you're interested in the format of the argument. But to me it's pretty clear what the argument and conclusion is. We can set up an experiment to see how long it takes for water to erode stone.. and then estimate the age of river valleys. Everywhere we look we see evidence of a geological age of the earth. We know where judeo-christian monotheism came from.. because the people who were around at the time kept records. We know in short that young earth Christians are deluded. I say "know".. because the classic counter argument is what's known as "church of last Thursdayism". God created t – Richard Dec 24 '18 at 14:13
  • I made an edit which you may rollback or further edit. Again, welcome! – Frank Hubeny Dec 24 '18 at 15:05
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    This isn't an argument. It's just a sequence of sentences. – Eliran Dec 24 '18 at 15:28
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    @FrankHubeny thanks for the welcome! I hope to learn a lot here. I have edited the question and also added the page number. Thanks for pointing it out! – Mumukshu Dec 24 '18 at 15:29
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That's a pretty abominable argument in terms of finding a conclusion.

I'd go with "it is intellectual honesty."

And say there's a hidden premise that some how explains what "intellectual honesty" means somewhere.

Primary reason why I'd suggest this is the conclusion is that hierarchically it's at the top level.

  1. half the American population believes that universe is 6000 years old.
  2. They are wrong about this.
  3. Declaring them so is not 'irreligious intolerance."
  4. It is intellectual honesty.

Sentence 1 merely states a claim (some percentage believes some claim). No argument is given for that.

Sentence 2 is a judgment about the veracity of the the claim they believe which is part of sentence 1 (though not all of sentence 1). No argument is made for that. Ergo it's one level further up from the claim inside of 1.

Sentence 3 is a declaration about a judgment on making the judgment in claim 2. Ergo, it's basically one level up from 2, because it's drawing a conclusion about two. There's no real argument for why this is valid (missing premises?)

Sentence 4 then is a judgment on the same level as sentence 3 but stated positively on the basis of some definition of intellectual honesty...

But as I've noted there's quite a bit missing from the argument in terms of clarity ...

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"Half of the American population believes that the universe is 6000 years old. They are wrong about this. Declaring them so is not 'irreligious intolerance'. It is intellectual honesty." -Excerpt from Introduction to Logic, page no.12. (the author quotes Sam Harris's Letter to a Christian Nation for showing arguments or it's premises and conclusions hidden in a context)

Main argument:

Premise: "Half of the American population believes that the universe is 6000 years old. They are wrong about this."

Conclusion: "It is intellectual honesty."

If the premise is true, what entails is a true conclusion.

Sam implies that since the whole premise stated above is True - "They are wrong about this" - then it justifies his intellectual honesty, which is the conclusion.

Subargument:

Premise 1: "Half of the American population believes that the universe is 6000 years old. They are wrong about this."

Premise 2: "It is intellectual honesty."

Conclusion:"Declaring them so is not 'irreligious intolerance'."

Sam claims that due to the Truth of premise one, further stating its Truth in premise 2(a Truth statement as derived from premise 1), his proposal for not demonstrating irreligious intolerance was entailed.

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The question is to identify premises and conclusions in the following text:

"Half of the American population believes that the universe is 6000 years old. They are wrong about this. Declaring them so is not 'irreligious intolerance'. It is intellectual honesty."

Although the argument is not stated as clearly as one might like, many arguments that one hears are not stated clearly. It is good for critical thinking to identify the conclusion, or the point the speaker is trying to make even when arguments are not clearly stated. The premises are what the speaker assumes the listener will accept. They also need to be identified and associated with doubts that can be further researched.

As I read this, the speaker is assuming the following is true. I placed in italics my doubts. If a statement raises doubts that would justify identifying the statement as a premise. Premises should raise questions even if one agrees with them. They may need to be checked further, to strengthen or reject them.

  • Half of the American population believes the universe is 6000 years old. This might not be the case. Whatever this number is, it might change over time.
  • The speaker asserts that the speaker cannot be accused of 'irreligious intolerant'. The speaker may be intolerant.
  • The speaker asserts that the speaker is intellectually honest. The speaker may not be intellectually honest.

Here is the conclusion:

They are wrong about this.

What this conclusion is asserting is half of the American population have an intellectually dishonest religious belief.

The argument is based on authority, the speaker's own asserted intellectual honesty and lack of intolerance. The premises may need to be checked, and perhaps additional premises added, before accepting or rejecting the conclusion.

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