Thursday, June 23, 2016

Mid-Term EXTRA CREDIT Assignment

From a single recent publication (a Sunday newspaper edition published during the run of the course, a recent magazine, something like that) identify examples of the following: 
(1) A formal fallacy, 
(2) an instance of valid formal reasoning, 
(3, 4, 5) three different informal fallacies, 
(6-10) and five different figures of which at least two are schemes. 
In order to get ANY credit you must identify ALL ten, at which point I will give you one extra credit point per correct example. If all ten of your examples are correct, I will give you an extra five points, for fifteen total. These points will be added to the percentage you earned on your mid-term exam. Each example must be documented either by cutting scraps from the periodical or cutting/pasting it into a document from an online source. You can hand in this assignment at any time between today and the last meeting of course together. Good luck!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Monday, June 13, 2016

Unclear Distinctions

Hey Everyone,

I hope we're all ready for tomorrow. I noticed some terms that were difficult to distinguish from one another and am hoping others will benefit from clarification as much as me.

1. We're asked to define claim twice on the review sheet, once in 1(beside argument) and again in 8 (in relation to the Toulmin Schema). How do the two definitions differ? In 1, is a claim simply an utterance or statement? And how is it different from a proposition? I understand in the Toulmin Schema a claim includes a thesis, qualifiers, and exceptions. I also understand that a proposition is a description of a state of affairs that qualifies as true or false. Can't a claim be a description (It is raining), and couldn't it be true or false?

And where does premise fall in all this? Can't a premise claim, just as proposition may, and be evaluated the same as its two counterparts? Also, why would a premise be any different from a conclusion if a premise concludes unstated warrants in order to get to other conclusions? Wouldn't every argument and conclusion (which indefinitely relies on premises) be Petitio Principii because argument assumes the premises as conclusions and the conclusions as premises. Arguments and questions already presuppose an answer merely by arguing and stating, it can only reach as far as the argument or question itself. Argument, conclusions, questions, return only to verify their initial endeavor and never really get beyond themselves... right?

2. What's the difference between a scheme and schema? Is it only grammatical (pl. and singular)? Also, how is trope different from scheme? The definitions are almost exactly alike, and I don't see how deviating from the ordinary is different from deviating from convention.

3. And what about metonymy and synecdoche? If metonymy is relation through contact and synecdoche parts and wholes, how can the two definitions remain distinct when relation itself depends on contact, when relation itself is necessarily a part or greater than the part it's related to?

4. Paronomasia (pun), isocolon, and auxesis. The ex. for paronomasia is, "Some folks are wise, some folks are otherwise." If paronomasia is word play, isn't this also a repetition of grammatical form and thus a isocolon? And isn't repetition always amplification and therefore auxesis? This is not the only example, nor the only terms, that overlap.

5. Enthymeme vs. Argument. On 6/8, Enthymeme is defined as a claim supported by reasons, while on 5/25 an argument is defined as a claim supported by reasons and/or evidence. Does only evidence distinguish enthymeme and argument? Does an enthymeme rely more on syllogism? And if deduction, like Dale said on 6/8, relies on the syllogism, how is it different from an enthymeme?

6. Lastly, are formal, logical fallacies confined to denying the antecedent and affirming the consequent? Can one commit a logical fallacy by affirming the antecedent or denying the consequent?

I hope this is helpful and not confusing!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Advice for Tuesday's Exam

Make sure you know everything on the study sheet I handed out Thursday!

Also, remind yourself what each of our assigned readings argued... even if we didn't spend much if any time on them together in discussion. I'll be asking you to identify quotes from some of our readings.

I'll make part one of the exam available at 2.30pm sharp, so arrive early if you want ten extra minutes.

Bring spare pens and pencils in case your ink runs out or some other mishap occurs.

You'll provide your answer on the exam itself, so there is no need to bring blue books or anything like that. You can also use the backs and margins of the exam's pages for workspace.

The Midterm will be administered in two parts. Again, Part One will be made available at 2.30pm, Tuesday, and you may continue work on Part One until 3.45 at the very latest. Part Two will be made available at 3.45 till the end of class, at 5.00. Feel free to hand in Part One whenever you have completed it to your satisfaction, and take a break before Part Two begins at 3.45.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

In “Evidence of Things Not Seen” Chris Hedges passes a lesson he learned from his father to his audience: the reality of war can only be understood by focusing on its victims not the propagandist images of glory and manhood. Both Hedges’ father and uncle served in World War II. Though they escaped the fate of the many fatalities of the war, they both returned home as casualties of war’s savagery. Hedges later had the lessons of his father reaffirmed through his own experience as a war correspondent. Hedges lauds Agent Orange: “Collateral Damage” in Viet Nam, by the photographer Philip Jones Griffiths, for showcasing the true horrors of war by focusing on its victims and proliferating the message that has shadowed his life. “War reverberates for years afterward, spinning lives into a dark oblivion of pain and suffering.”
Hedges turns his attention to the atrocities of the Vietnam war depicted in Agent Orange to further his argument about looking to the victims in order to see beyond the myth of war. In 1962, the United States used an herbicide, dubbed Agent Orange, to destroy the agriculture and forestry depended upon by the Vietcong. The herbicide contained the powerful poison dioxin which not only “had cataclysmic effects on the foliage of Vietnam, but it also seems to have sown a ‘genetic time bomb’ that has left in its wake thousands of deformed children.” The ensuing debate regarding the link between the herbicide and the birth defects reflects the state’s inability to face the consequences of their wartime actions. Despite evidence demonstrating a significantly higher incidence of birth defects in areas that were sprayed with Agent Orange as opposed to those that were not, the chemical companies that produced the herbicide were never required to accept liability. While the state redirects public attention to the myth of war to absolve itself and the public of any liability for the consequences of war, Agent Orange confronts the public with these truths in the images of the deformed children. Through these images the public is forced to recognize their complicity in the trauma inflicted upon these children.
Still, Hedges argues that Agent Orange is not particularly effective simply due to its graphic depiction of war. It is particularly effective because it maintains its focus on the victims of war. “Most war films and images meant to denounce war fail… because they impart the thrill of violence and power.” The visualization of war found in films and video games can never escape its fetishization. The fetishized myth of war intoxicates the public with the license for wholesale destruction. But casualties of war, like Hedges, his father, and his uncle, must also face the consequences of this destruction and the part they played in it. When these men return home they feel “a sense of abandonment, made all the more painful by the public manifestations of gratitude toward those who fit our image of what war should be.” Yet as these casualties yearn for increased public recognition of the true consequences of war, they are forced to witness a shrinking recognition of these truths within the military itself as modern warfare becomes ever more impersonal.
The power of modern industrial weapons “to those who have not seen them at work is incomprehensible.” But the increasing automation of weapons means that the consequences of these weapons remain incomprehensible to those at their helm. This increasing segregation between the consequences of war and those complicit in warfare, military and general public alike, make collections such as Agent Orange necessary for “us to look beyond the national cant and flag waving used to propel us into war. The myth of war is glory and patriotism. The truth of war is death and destruction that reverberates for generations.

Hedge's False Truths

Chris Hedges explains in “Evidence of Things Not Seen” war’s false representation. Hedges begins by establishing his credibility as speaker; He is the son and nephew of World War II veterans who struggled to overcome the trauma of war, and witnessed violence himself as a war correspondent for Vietnam. He speaks from his history and experience, and of the discrepancy between what he has seen and what is popularly shown. Hedges argues war is sanitized, unheroic, and desolates irreducible numbers of people for a duration that long outlasts the war’s length.  
Hedges recalls his father, an army sergeant who served in North Africa, loathing “the military and the lie that war is about glory and manhood and patriotism.” Hedges remembers his father, the former sergeant, tell him that he would go to jail with Hedges to protest the Vietnam War should Hedges refuse the draft like he wanted him to. Hedges follows his father’s story, a former soldier that denounced war efforts and became a clergyman, with his uncle’s, who “did not return home with [his] father’s resilience.” Instead, Uncle Maurice drank himself to death, probably because he suffered a mortar blast. Two different soldiers with different experiences, but each were angry about what they went through, what they have seen, what they were supposed to be comforted by in their return home and valorization of their fight.
Hedges moves on to the effects of Agent Orange in Vietnam, a biological weapons used to clear brush and what he describes with quotations as a “genetic time bomb” that continues to affect those who live in the areas it was applied. Hedges cites the $180 million settlement the chemical companies paid to US Servicemen for their defective babies, without accepting liability and without paying the Vietnamese and others the chemical affected. Regardless, the deformities  children and families suffer are there. There, Hedges says, to stare at and to have stared back at you, in formaldehydes, and in children “born years after the war but wounded as if the war never ended.” Hedges uses this occasion to propose, “The only way to understand war is to see it from the perspective of the victims.”
Hedges quickly follows the proposition by denigrating the abstractions and myths many associate with war, the same abstractions and myths his father, uncle and himself are disgusted by. Hedges uses “abstract” three times in one sentence, to emphasize how far the abstraction is from what it is concerned. The abstraction is the fantasy behind the false myths, the belief that turns the false into the true, and the fantasy that distances the nature of an event from itself. This distance, motivated by the fantasy of the truth of glory, honor, and patriotism, is a misunderstanding; it is not understanding. Ironically, Hedges asserts it is the injured and deformed children that understand the war beyond the abstraction and myths that encourage a country to be proud of its violence. The children understand because they are the ones who suffered from the war, who personally endured the effects and not the myths.
Hedges terms the myths and abstractions, and the thrill that come from them, as “war porn.” He discusses the irony of how a film that means to denounce war can attract war enthusiasm, like Platoon. Hedges attributes the phenomenon to presentation and ignorance, and how the former births the latter. He argues that war is sanitized and packaged in entertainment, that it excites without dwelling on the effluent, that it hides the trauma that comes from the excitement, and that the excitement itself is just one of the fantastical myth of the “pleasures” of war.  Any past soldier who publicly detests the war, Hedges writes, is marginalized, so the image of pleasure, the false truth of fantasy and myth, continues.

Hedges concludes by asserting neither his family or position are unique, contrary to the exclusivity he remarks on at the beginning. He explains that there were tens of thousands of families that have the same history and experience as his. He criticizes the eager distinction enemies make between each other rather than recognizing commonalities, suggesting instead to recogne in sum “the suffering mass of humanity that surviv[es] ... war.” He ends by reminding us of war’s destruction, ugliness, and to consider the lives of our children and the opposition’s children.

From Glory to Destruction: A Deconstruction of the Myth of War

            Telling a story of brutality, fear, and suffering, Chris Hedges outlines the realities of war and how his perspective self-constructed from the grotesque – yet raw – images he observed within photographer Philip Griffith’s book, Agent Orange: Collateral Damage. In his article “Evidence of Things Not Seen”, Hedges argues that while many uphold the myth of war to be one “of glory, honor, patriotism and heroism”, war actually “reverberates for years afterward, spinning lives into a dark oblivion of pain and suffering”. Hedges continues throughout his article to reveal with various situations the brutalities of war, the repercussions of war, and ultimately dismissing the popular myths of war, myths that appear to simulate the very definition and ambiance of war.
            Hedges draws the close relations he has to War World II to enlighten his readers of the catastrophic events that ensued and captured his childhood memories. Corroborating his central claim, Hedges explores the post-war effects on both his father and his uncle, effects that produce emotional ties to both himself and his readers. He begins the article discussing his father, who not only attempted to remove Hedges from any military involvement as a child, but also explicitly condemned the lie of war and the propaganda the military sold, “especially the lie that war is about glory and manhood and patriotism”. His father berated the recreations of wars and the celebrations of holidays such as Veteran’s Day, simply because war as he knew from his very eyes, contained no happiness: bodies were strewn everywhere, left for elements of nature to deteriorate or devour. Hedges furthers his argument through the narrative of the uncle, Maurice – a post-war alcoholic, attempting to cope with the impact of the war. In the end, Maurice, as Hedges explains, drinks himself to his grave and drowns in the sorrow the war left him in.
            Beyond the emotional, Hedges relays factual devastation “Agent Orange”, a descriptive title for a task the US Military employed in 1962, created throughout the world. He writes how the herbicide, used for the purpose of destroying crops in Vietnam, left many “children who [now] suffer from spina bifida, mental retardation, blindness and tumors, children born years after the war but wounded as if the war never ended”.  This hard evidence of the harmful effects the mission had, serves, at least to Hedges, to represent the “face of war”: the very definition and outlook war has on an individual and onto society.
            Hedges continues his argument by exploring the ironies of American society and its predisposition towards recreating war through Hollywood and classic war video games. The irony he states is simple: movies and video games about war seem to hold some element of truth about war, but we must remember that movies and video games also represent dramatized, or rather fictitious stories. Hedges, when talking about video games, said “we taste a bit of war’s exhilaration but are safe, spared the pools of blood, the wailing of a dying child”. We often neglect, through the manipulations of media, the indescribable horror war is. Video games and movies are mere fiction and the war they seem to describe also merely resembles the myth Hedges desperately attempts to overturn.
            War is not what we see through the media, what we idolize as patriotism and glory, but rather Hedges outlines the catastrophic effects war has, the brutality, the destruction was is. He exploits the emotional ties to his father and uncle to enlighten the reader of harmful post-war effects, demonstrating the lasting consequences of war. Hedges records the horrific incident of 1962 – Agent Orange – procuring factual evidence to display the horrors war caused to millions of families, even for generations to follow. He finally observes the irony of the media, and the false advertisement of war streamed on every movie and video game that claims to be about war.  Chris Hedges authored “Evidence of Things Not Seen” in hope to destroy the common misconception – the myth – of war, and show the corruption, the plague, the dirt war is.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Posted for Alan Do

In his op-ed piece, “Anarchism and Nonviolence”, Randall Amster seeks to illustrate the

possible benefits of connecting these two concepts. His thesis is that the ideals of anarchism can

be best engaged by acting under the tenets of nonviolence. Within the piece, Amster appears to

be engaging this discussion in the mode of ethos and logos based on his citing of authority as

well as in defining different aspects of the issue. Based on his approach, it appears that he seeks

to persuade and educate a sympathetic academic audience so that they may better understand the

topics. He begins his piece by portraying how being an “anarchist” carries a negative connotation

in the public mindset. This occurs as they are often cited as the cause for the violence and

destruction that take place after contentious protests such as what occurred in Oakland following

the Oscar Grant verdict. He conveys to the reader the implication of this generalization when he

states “the media fan the flames by blaming a few stray acts of window-breaking… on self

described anarchists”. His premise is that the movement of anarchism has become a scapegoat

whenever chaos occurs in these contexts. This is an issue as it reduces the meaning of protests

and those who participate in them. Amster aims to combat the mischaracterization of this

movement by redefining the ideology as the media and public understand it.

        Amster defines “anarchism as, “autonomy, self-governance, decentralization, self- 

sufficiency, and a federal network of horizontal communities”. This implies an underlying sense

of individuality and rejection of norms. Amster argues that this supposed misunderstanding

stems from the difficulty that is inherent to defining an ideology that is against convention and

“orthodoxy”. Amster discusses how critics easily misconstrue these ideas as “violence and

destruction”. To combat this sentiment he asks the question, “how many people would you

estimate have been killed by anarchists in the last hundred years”. He then asks the reader to

compare that number to the deaths enacted by other people such as conservatives and liberals in

an attempt to convey how a broad philosophical orientation does not imply any significant

propensity for violence or radicalism. He proceeds with the discussion by citing his own

workshops regarding the topics to establish himself as an authoritative figure. In his workshops

he was able to “create a working definition of anarchism, and then one of nonviolence” through

which “many overlapping values emerged”. Amster discusses how both concepts deal with ideas

such as “self governance” and “rejection of domination”. To further reinforce this idea, he

utilizes prominent revolutionary figures such as Ghandi to illustrate how this overlap between

anarchy and nonviolence is important. He uses quotes from the the figures to establish his

interpretation of nonviolence and the efficacy with which they were able to produce anarchistic


        Amster does address to the audience that this is his interpretation of the subject matter

and that other definitions of anarchism exist. He also mentions how there are other examples that

contradict his thesis. Nevertheless, he argues, “we look for ways to support and bolster both

paradigms since they are increasingly coming into contact with one another in the real world of

on-the- ground activism and organism”. This is an effective method of argument as it allows the

reader to disengage from any contradictions and rebuttals. He is able to conclude his argument in

a convincing manner as even if one were to disagree that the two movements were carried

significant overlap, he believes that it would still be beneficial to conflate the movements.

Posted for Shannon Zheng

Slums, Sludge, and Sickness
            Mike Davis’ article, Slum Ecology (2006) raises concern over the adverse cycle of health, financial, and ecological conditions that arise as a result of urbanization in Third World countries. Davis first describes the result of the role of urbanization, natural and manmade disasters, and ecological hazards in endangering people living in Third World slums, then accounts the development of urbanization and its health risks, and finally outlines international economic policies that result in the insufficient appropriation of funding towards healthcare programs by Third world countries, inhibiting aid towards diseases caused by urbanization.
            Davis’ chief claim is that urbanization produce and worsen health and environmental issues of people living in slums. Davis defines urbanization as a “process” that is the cause of the “growth of slums, [and] characterized by overcrowding, poor or informal housing, inadequate access to safe water and sanitation, [as well as] insecurity of tenure” (2006). As a result of the development of Third World cities, safe living standards are unable to be maintained in proportion to the pace to which people are migrating, resulting in poor housing and health conditions. Additionally, Davis describes the deplorable living conditions for people slums, as “marginality [living] within marginality” or ‘semi-death’ (2006). As a transformative process, urbanization in Third World countries bear the brunt of city life without much of its benefits; people in slums face inadequate housing as well as crime without sufficient government oversight to alleviate the issues. Further, Davis’ chief claim is advanced in his thesis, in which he asserts, “Suffering under a series of crushing pressures, most recently a quarter-century-old regime of Draconian international economic policies, cities are systematically polluting, urbanizing, and destroying their crucial environmental support systems” (Davis 2006). Through international economic policies and urbanization, ecological and health risks are magnified.
            First, natural and manmade disasters are made worse because of the ecological hazards that results from urbanization. Natural disasters, storms, and earthquakes exacerbate the sensitive environmental circumstances surrounding slums in Third World countries. Fires however, both in occurring both naturally and intentionally, manmade, is the most frequent and immediate threat. Where “a simple accident with cooking gas or kerosene” in “flammable dwellings, their [proximity of people living in] extraordinary destiny” becomes a “superlative recipe for spontaneous combustion” (Davis 2006). In the daily routine of preparing meals, life in the slums is made all the more dangerous because of their housing situation, as well as in the surrounding housing situations of others; the spread of fire is a regular threat because of the crowded conditions of slum shelters as well as the lack of quality, fire-resistant housing materials. Further, should a fire occur and spread, there is no guarantee of response, aid from local governments in trying to suppress the fire, as “fire-fighting vehicles, if they respond at all, are often unable to negotiate narrow slum lanes” (Davis 2006). Government resources are inadequate in serving the needs of the people; insufficient resources, as well as deficient infrastructure, impedes local agencies from helping in a dire situation.
            Second, in the process of urbanization, Third World cities foster health risks, pollution of their environment, because of their lack of financial resources and ability to maintain a standard of ecological health and safety. The inability for local governments to appropriately implement waste disposal programs allows for the contamination of water sources and rise of diseases. Where the “average [waste] collection rate in Dar Es Salaam is barely 25 percent; in Karachi, 40 percent; and in Jakarta, 60 percent” (Davis 2006), the bulk of waste runs into nearby water sources (Davis 2006). Contaminated water sources in Third World countries pose the greatest risks to the health of impoverished people. In which “poor sanitation and the pollution of drinking water are the leading cause of death in the world” and “up to 80 percent of preventable diseases” (Davis 2006). The failure of Third World cities to implement decent waste disposal programs comes at a direct, dire cost to the health and livelihood of its people. Although the contamination of water and consequent diseases by inadequate waste disposal programs are preventable, Third World countries’ lack of investment into healthcare services inhibit relief.
            The lack of Third World countries in providing aid to its people is in part, the result of international agencies that enforce economic policies that result in the lack of funding of healthcare programs in Third World countries. Faced with budgeting conflicts, as a result of imposed economic restructuring regulations, Third World countries often choose to cut back on healthcare spending. “[Economic] structural adjustment programs”, such as that implemented by Mexico for instance, to have lead to a dramatic increase, “82 [women] per 100,000 in 1980 to 150 [women] in 1988”, in maternal mortality, while “births attended by medical personnel fell” from “94 percent in 1983 to 45 percent in 1988” (Davis 2006). As a result of economic policies, enforced by international agencies, Mexico, as well as other Third World countries, consequently sought to restructure their economies by redistributing healthcare funds to other programs.
            Urbanization negatively effects the ecological environment of Third World cities, fostering disease and risk among its people that live within slums. Lack of sufficient waste disposal and healthcare services devastates the surrounding ecology and people within Third World slums, as a result of urbanization efforts.

Posted for Carolina Berrios

Agent Orange
In the article, “Evidence of Things Not Seen”, the author, Chris Hedges paints a very vivid illustration of the ravages of war, from the perspective of the victims. Hedges makes a point of denouncing the violent psychological and physical calamities of war driven by State governments and paid with the price of their people. Throughout the article, Hedge implores those who read to revisit the memory of war and to see it from the perspective of the victims whose plight is never glorified or harangued as proof of a war justified.  By evoking emotional and gritty imagery, Hedges attempts to shed light on the underbelly of war, to highlight the human devastation that is all too real but never truly appreciated as an enduring and irreparable consequence, to be avoided and remembered in the future at all costs.
Hedges begins by referencing the impact of war on his own family, making a personal case for the denunciation of war. Hedges describes the aftermath on both his father and uncle’s lives, citing the deep disgust and resentment that his father now carried towards the United States’ military, weapons, memorabilia, anything that served to parade or celebrate the country’s militant history. He also describes his uncle’s less resilient attitude towards his experience of trauma and disillusionment with war, recounting the way he ultimately succumbed to the psychological demons that followed him well after the war was over. “‘He was an early opponent of the Vietnam War. During a Fourth of July parade in the farm town where I grew up he turned to me as the paunchy veterans walked past and said acidly, “Always remember, most of those guys were fixing the trucks in the rear.’” Hedges recounts the memory of his dad’s distaste for war after to relay to the reader a very personal account of its absurdity, its over-glorification, and of it’s ugly, disappointing truth.
Hedges also enlists the use of jarring metaphors to convey the intensity of his argument, that the reality of war, if it were not so obscured, would make the it much harder for people to accept, celebrate, or promote war at all. War is carefully packaged, the way tobacco or liquor companies package their own poisons. We taste a bit of war’s exhilaration but are safe, spared the pools of blood, the wailing of a dying child.” Hedges likens war to the packaging of tobacco, to highlight it propagandistic and consumerist nature, as well to illustrate the destructive, self-harm that is inherent in even supporting war. The image of the wailing, bloody child, one of countless victims of war, either maimed by bullets, shrapnel, and bombs, or diseased by way of chemical warfare, is used by Hedges to evoke a visceral and emotional reaction, a natural reaction that he feels is usually muted, tamed, or completely suppressed by careful, government-orchestrated fetishization of war.  “War is made palatable. It is sanitized. We are allowed to taste war’s perverse thrill, but usually spared from seeing its consequences. The wounded and the dead are swiftly carted offstage. The maimed are carefully hidden in the wings while the band plays a majestic march.” With these words, he conjures up within the reader’s mind a callous and sickening portrayal of war and the government’s dehumanizing attempts to subdue our only natural disgust with it.
            Through his own story and through the vivid figuration of war’s devastations, Hedges attempts to make the prospect, the history and memory of war personal, human, and strives to reveal whatever feelings of glory or pride that people are encouraged to associate with war for what they really are, manufactured, perverse, and devastatingly ignorant of war’s true, corruptive nature.