Passage Analysis Worksheet

Passage Analysis Worksheet


Author’s Thesis:  (State the author’s thesis - one claim)

_________________________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________________________


Express the main argument in standard form and/or in dialectical chart



(Conclusions of sub-arguments are often major premises for the main conclusion. What major claims support the main conclusion? These major claims are typically the intermediate conclusions of the article. There should typically not be more than a small handful for such short articles.)




Evaluating Major Claims (Main Argument) – Take the major claims and evaluate them for their relevance, acceptability, and sufficiency. If major claims (conclusions from sub-arguments) are not acceptable, give reasons. 



Claim #1:  ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________



Relevance: ___________________________________(In what way does the claim lend support to the conclusion? How is the claim relevant? Why so? You’re trying to “connect the dots,” so to speak showing the relationship between the supporting claim and the conclusion. Is the claim positively relevant, negatively relevant, or logically irrelevant?  How so, exactly?)



Acceptability: ________________________________(Is the claim supported with acceptable examples, evidence, proof or some sort of justification?  Should it be? If not acceptable, why not? If the supporting claim is conceptual, perhaps it is unacceptable because it is too narrow, too broad, too vague, or ambiguous. Maybe a particular term is equivocated. Is the claim clear?)



Claim#2:  _______________________________________________________________________



Relevance:___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________




Acceptability:_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Etc.


(Different articles will have a different number of major supporting claims - 



Sufficiency:  (Once all of the claims have been evaluated for their relevance and acceptability, evaluate the weight of the evidence, the strength of the support, the validity of the reasoning, etc. to establish the sufficiency of the claims to prove or justify the conclusion.  No one claim may be sufficient in itself to prove the conclusion. The question is whether all of the supporting claims, taken together, do.  Why or why not?  Is there something crucial missing?  Etc. Explain.)


______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________________________


Author’s treatment of objections raised against his or her claims/arguments:


Objection  #1 acknowledged by author: ___________________________

Author’s Response to objection: _______________________________

Evaluation of Author’s response: ______________________________

Possible defence by author to your criticism: _____________________

Your response to possible defence: _____________________________



Objection #2 raised: _________________________________________

Author’s Response to objection: _______________________________

Evaluation of Author’s response: ______________________________

Possible defence by author to your criticism: _____________________

Your response to possible defence: _____________________________


Etc. Etc. (There may be a few, many, or no objections raised in the article.)

_______________________________________________________________________


Author’s Use of Concepts / Conceptual Claims



What problems, if any, exist in the author’s understanding and use of concepts central to his or her argument? Are there any problematic terms or words used? If so, which ones? Why are they problematic? Language problems might revolve around ambiguity, vagueness or equivocation.



Informal Fallacies – Identify any informal logical fallacies (e.g., personal attacks, diversionary tactics, inappropriate appeals to emotion, etc.) in the passage. What’s wrong with the thinking? (There may or may not be any informal fallacies.)



1. _________________________________________________________________________________________________



2. _________________________________________________________________________________________________




3._________________________________________________________________________________________________



Is there anything which is overlooked by the author? Why is this important? Why does this weaken the argument?  In other words, what if anything is missing and why does this damage the argument?



1.____________________________________________________________________________________________________


2. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________



Macro-Evaluation (Your Thesis) 



Given your analysis and appraisal of the argument, does the author present a successful argument? Is it strong and cogent? Or, is it weak and uncogent? 


Your general evaluation of the author’s argument (This is your thesis): 


_______________________________________________________________________


Interior Dialogue: What ideas/criticisms etc. will you use to defend your assessment of the argument? How and why, precisely, does the argument fail? (Use your Micro-Evaluation above to select  your criticisms- faulty or irrelevant claims, unsupported assertions, unwarranted conclusions, invalid logic, inconsistencies, vagueness, ambiguity, equivocations, weak support etc. all weaken arguments.)


1._______________________________________________________________________________________________


2._______________________________________________________________________________________________


3._______________________________________________________________________________________________



How could the author respond to each one of your criticisms above?


1._______________________________________________________________________________________________


2._______________________________________________________________________________________________


3._______________________________________________________________________________________________


What would be your answer to the author’s self-defence?


1.________________________________________________________________________________________________


2.________________________________________________________________________________________________


3.________________________________________________________________________________________________



What if the argument is successful? (Different Strategy)


Author’s Thesis: 


_____________________________________________________________



Express the author’s main argument in diagram and/or standard form /dialectical chart


(Conclusions of sub-arguments are often major premises for the main conclusion. What major claims support the main conclusion? These major claims are typically the intermediate conclusions of the article. There should typically not be more than a small handful for such short articles.)


Major supporting claims offered by the author.


Claim 

1._____________________________________________________________________________________________


Your Defence of the author’s claim (Discuss the relevance and acceptability of the claim.):

______________________________________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________________________________


Possible Objection that could be raised against the author’s claim

______________________________________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________________________________


Your response to the possible objection of the author’s claim

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________


_______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Claim 2._____________________________________________________________________________________________


(Repeat process as above for Claim 1)


Claim 

3._____________________________________________________________________________________________ etc.


(Repeat process as above for Claims 2 and 3 Etc.)


Note: If the author is successful, you must still produce both the possible objections to the position argued, as well as a defence on behalf of the author - in other words - objections and counter-criticisms. Your paper should still have a “dialectical structure”.

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