Critical Thinking

I am evaluating an argument and I'm unsure if it makes sense to anyone but myself. The following is my paper on an essay from Critical Thinking 8th Edition entitled Controlling Erational Fears after 9/11.

I would first like to draw attention to the two conclusions in this essay, and then state the arguments and premises coinsiding with each conclusion. The first conclusion that I have identified is:


Finally, our point is that marginal or even completely ineffective expenditures and disruptive practices have taken our time, attention, and national treasure away from other matters with more promise of making the country a better place.


The argument that best supports this conclusion is:

We should remember that fear and outrage at the attacks are only the beginning of the country's response to 9/11 [The issue]. We now have a new cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security [Premise #1]; billions have been spent on beefing up security and in tracking terrorists and potential terrorists [Premise #2]; billions more have been spent supporting airlines whose revenues took a nosedive after the attacks [Premise #3]; the Congress was pulled away from other important business [Premise #4]; the National Guard was called out to patrol the nation's airports [Premise #5]; air travelers have been subjected to time-consuming and expensive security measures [Premise #6]; you can probably think of a half-dozen other items to add to this list.

I would say that the argument above is an inductively strong argument because the premises are all true. Some of us have experienced these things first hand while others have seen these premises unfold on national news. Each of these statements are researchable and can be supported by facts. I do feel that if the "important business" noted as Premise 4 was further elaborated, the conclusion would have been stronger.

The second conclusion that I found in this essay is:

We seem to have all begun to think of ourselves as terrorist targets, but, in fact, reason tells us we are in much greater danger from our friends and neighbors behind the wheels of their cars.

The argument that supports this conclusion best is:

There are several reasons why one might say that a huge reaction to the 9/11 attacks was justified [The issue]. The first is simply the large number of lives that were lost [Premise #1]. In the absence of a shooting war, that 2,800 Americans should die from the same cause strikes us as extraordinary indeed [Premise #2]. But does the sheer size of the loss of life warrant the reaction we saw? Clearly sheer numbers do not always impress us. It is unlikely, for example, that many Americans remember that, earlier in 2001, an earthquake in Gujarat, India, killed approximately 20,000 people [Premise #3]. One might explain the difference in reaction by saying that we naturally respond more strongly to deaths of Americans closer to home than to those of others halfway around the world [Premise #4]. But then consider the fact that, every month during 2001 more Americans were killed in automobile crashes than were killed on 9/11 (and it has continued every month since as well)[Premise #5]. Since the victims of car accidents come from every geographical area and every social stratum, one can say that those deaths are even "closer to home" than the deaths that occurred in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania [Premise #6].


Although I found this argument very pursuading, the premises in this paragraph are deductive. Assuming that the author intended that these premises are true, it does provide a valid argument, but as far as providing proof, it would take much more footwork. I think that the premises are plausibly true but I would need more proof to be convinced.

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asked by Sheilah

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