Introducing Logic and Critical Thinking

The Skills of Reasoning and the Virtues of Inquiry


6. Virtues of Intellectual Dependability

Exercise 6.1

A. Evaluating Generosity

For each of the following examples, make a case for why the character or characters do or do not display intellectual generosity. If a character exhibits a vice that is contrary to intellectual generosity, identify the vice. Cite relevant material from the text in section 6.1 in defense of your view.

  1. A clinical researcher has recorded her findings in an Excel document and has published them in a prestigious journal. She receives an email from a grad student who is interested in reviewing her findings for his research. The clinical researcher decides to ignore the email. She’s afraid the grad student will find a mistake and publish a correction to her research.
  2. An accountant feels overworked but helps a coworker develop a long-term financial strategy over his lunch hour.
  3. A college student feels really stressed out and is in the midst of deciding on a major. His friend skips her management class to buy groceries for her friend to save him time so he can have more time to think.
  4. A sociologist has an insight about his colleague’s work. He thinks it will make a great idea for a public presentation. He shares it with his colleague and works with his colleague to develop an outline for a presentation.
  5. A professor asks his student if the student will work ten hours per week to help him with his research, knowing full well that the student’s time will take the student away from time studying.
  6. A business consultant calls a philosopher asking for help figuring out how to advise a company about a difficult ethical issue. The philosopher says he doesn’t have time to advise the consultant; he’s too busy thinking deeply about the nature of causation.
  7. Patrice, a salesperson for a microchip manufacturer, attends a conference in which she meets a salesperson for a competitor. The competitor’s salesperson asks Patrice whether she is in talks with any large clients. Patrice is in talks with a large client that she knows is not in talks with her competitor. Patrice decides not to tell her competitor which client her company is in talks with.
  8. Jeremy realizes that his English professor has assigned books for which there are no online summaries, CliffsNotes, or SparkNotes. Jeremy decides to help his classmates by developing reading summaries himself. He figures that by writing the summaries, he lost time that he could have spent doing his own research. So he sells the summaries for a small fee that he intends to use to hire someone to do his grocery shopping. He’ll then spend his grocery shopping time to do his own research.
  9. Miles has discovered that by taking Adderall, he is able to think clearly and more quickly. He wants the same for others, so he begins handing out the drug to them.
  10. A logic student does practice proofs from her textbook, but whenever she is hung up on what to do next, she asks her study partner for help. He says, “Sorry, I can’t help you now. I have a stats test tomorrow.” She becomes angry that he is valuing his own pursuits over hers.

Exercise 6.2

A. Identifying Sources of Confusion

In each of the following passages, a character offers a communication that could contain a source of confusion for the character’s audience. Identify what the potential source of confusion is in light of your understanding of the material in section 6.2, and offer a way for the character to eliminate it.

  1. A student’s paper says, “Abortion is chosen by 30 percent of pregnant mothers, but 67 percent of pregnancies end up in a miscarriage. No one is really upset about how many miscarriages there are. Why are people so upset about abortions?”
  2. A market research report states, “Over-the-top video services have peaked just five years after mobile devices reached market saturation. Millennials watch more streaming video on their mobile devices than on televisions. It stands to reason, then, that over-the-top streaming video services hit the market at just the right time.”
  3. An online blogger argues, “Killing someone else is only okay when done in self defense or when the other person has already killed someone else. Since killing is only okay when done in defense, clearly bombing innocent civilians is not okay.”
  4. A friend states, “The number one issue our society faces is racism. Look at how many racists came out of the woodwork after the last election. We need to do something about it. Fake news sites with people acting racist abound. If we don’t do something, it won’t stop. It’s hard even to tell who to believe anymore.”
  5. A patient reports to their doctor, “I’m concerned about my back, mostly because of the pain. When I bend over to pick something up, there’s searing pain down the right side. Mostly the pain is my main concern.”
  6. In a Bible study, one person says that they think God will take care of everything for them. Another responds, “That’s because you’re a determinist.”
  7. After church, someone asks their pastor whether someone can lose their faith after being saved. The pastor replies, “Well, that depends on whether you believe Calvinism or Arminianism. Calvinists think you can’t but Arminians think you can.”
  8. A doctor reports, “Pregnant women have a greater risk of falling than men.”
  9. A new employee makes a presentation at the company-wide meeting on whether her division of the company has been successful. She reports, “Though our sales were down, our revenue was up. Our profits were even, because our costs rose, and our margins remained the same. Our social media buzz as well as our news citations have significantly improved, though our Twitter visibility has slightly leveled out.”
  10. A business analyst reports, “Without strong guidance in the third quarter, the chip manufacturer will see its stock fall, even with a strong earnings report. And the manufacturer produces a product that fits well within Tesla luxury car models.”

Exercise 6.3

A. Evaluating Audience Sensitivity

For each of the following examples, make a case for why the character or characters do or do not display audience sensitivity. If a character exhibits a vice that is contrary to audience sensitivity, identify the vice. Cite relevant material from the text in section 6.3 in defense of your view.

  1. In a presentation to new hires to the company’s human resources department, the director of accounting begins talking about the company’s new financial resource allocation and risk mitigation strategies.
  2. In an introductory marketing class, the professor talks about segmentation and targeting without defining the terms.
  3. A lecturer begins his talk by describing the impact of his most recent book, making sure to give the name of the prestigious publisher.
  4. A research analyst who is moderating a panel at a business conference opens the discussion by telling a story about her experience earning her doctorate.
  5. A philosopher strikes up a discussion with medical students in which he lays out his view that everything is immaterial.
  6. In a continuing education class for accountants, the speaker gives general principles of good accounting practice with many hypothetical, but no real-world, examples.
  7. A visiting professor is giving a presentation to seminary students at a conservative religious school. In the presentation, the speaker swears many times and makes a joke about being drunk.
  8. In a liberal-leaning private school, a professor gives as an example of an obvious truth that one cannot change their gender.
  9. When Joylin meets someone new at a party, she begins, without prompting, describing details in a book he had just read.
  10. As an attending physician is rushing from one hospital room to another taking care of patients, an intern follows him around hastily asking him questions about what he would do in difficult medical situations.