Logic Paper Assignment Sheet

Pick a press conference, major press appearance, speech, or debate and analyze it for logical fallacies.  The key is that a major public official or party leader is presenting arguments to the public.

White house press conference transcripts here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing_room//briefings/

Presidential speeches and press conferences are on this page.  Look to the "briefing room" section. http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/

Presidential Debate Transcripts are here http://www.debates.org/pages/debtrans.html

State of the Union addresses are archived here.  Feel free to go back in time and use past Presidents.   http://www.c-span.org/executive/stateoftheunion.asp

Perhaps the most well-regarded Sunday morning political program is Meet the Press.  Many politicos appear here and work the spin.  Transcripts here http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8987534/

Identify the text you are analyzing (include date, format, source, etc.)

Identify 6 logical flaws in the speech/ appearance/ debate/ comments.   You must use a minimum of 4 separate types of flaws.  For each one:

Quote the offending passage – include any context that is relevant.

Specifically identify the logical flaw – this could be a violation of the principles of logic or argumentation (parts 2 and 3 in McInerny), or one of the specific forms of illogical thinking from part 5, or an application of one of the sources of illogical thinking from part 4.

Explain why and how this example is a good illustration of the particular logical flaw you identify.  This may involve some source gathering outside of the speech itself (to verify facts and so on).  Any other sources should be cited and footnoted in MLA or APSA format.

Imagine that you are empowered as logic enforcer of the U.S.  Reconstruct the 6 arguments in a logically valid format.  For example, if you chose the President’s public statement that you are either “with us or against us”, you might rightly identify that as a “false dilemma”.  To be logically consistent, the statement would have to be something like “you are either in agreement with our specific plan of action, or you have some areas of overlap and some areas of disagreement, (perhaps about methods, intelligence, etc.), or you are against us entirely. The United States will not look favorably upon countries that do not support our specific policies with no reservations at all.”

The format should be in “report” style – not an integrated paper.  Start with a brief introduction that describes the object of study and why you picked it.  Simply divide the report into six sections and fill in the relevant information for each in paragraph form.  End with a paragraph or two of summary about what these logical flaws tell you about the bigger political landscape.  It should be 5 pages minimum.