Arguments are an integral part of human society, and structuring these arguments properly is important to emphasize a point. In the documentary I Can Change Your Mind About Climate, many legitimate and illegitimate arguments are put forward to the viewer. Some of these arguments are structurally wrong, and in some of them the premises are not relevant to the conclusion. The purpose of the documentary was for the two main protagonists, Anna Rose and Nick Minchin to try and change each others minds about climate change.
The documentary follows Anna and Nick around as they bring each other to people that they think will change the other persons mind, or help to. The first argument I will be analyzing will be an argument from Marc Morano, a notorious climate denier and blogger who runs the website climatedepot. com. His argument, as put into standard form, is as follows: P1: The sea level is dropping, P2: The population of polar bears is rising, P3: Global temperatures are decreasing, C: Therefor climate change is not happening.
While at first glance this argument looks like a solid deductive argument, the premises are lacking. The lack of actual numbers, along with the debatable follow on to the conclusion, make this argument worth looking further into. The structure of this argument is a deductive empirical argument. The structure is sound and valid, being a deductive argument, where the premises entail the conclusion. As a deductive argument, the premises must not only support the conclusion, they must directly lead on to the conclusion.
Mr. Morano has appeared to have done this, however we must first look further into the premises and the structure to determine weather the argument is conclusive or not. Premise one states ‘The sea level is dropping’. Mr. Morano has given no evidence to support this premise, losing conclusivity. This is much the same for the other premises, no supporting evidence is shown, and so the truth of the premises is always in question. Morano had put these forward as empirical pieces of evidence, but empirical implies that they must be 100 percent, universally accepted to be true facts.
As such, Mr. Morano has put forward a very inconclusive argument, which would not hold up well in an argument. No evidence was shown in the documentary to support these premises, and it is clear that Morano is bending the facts a little, considering the overwhelming evidence shown to us by Anna Rose about temperature increases, sea level rises and increased carbon in our atmosphere. Anna seems to be aware of this, and refutes him afterward, in the argument which we will now look at.
Anna Rose is a young climate change activist who was appearing in the program alongside Nick Minchin. Her argument is against Mr. Morano’s credibility, and in standard form is as follows: P1: If I engage in a debate with you, then you will make facts up. P2: You will make facts up. C: Therefor I will not engage in a debate with you. This is a clear example of a modus ponens deductive argument. I have added premise 2 as an implicit premise to show the flow of logic.
This deductive modus ponens argument is valid, it has a valid form and the principle of charitable interpretation has not been applied. Premise 1 is an assumption. Anna is assuming that because Morano is known for making things up, he will make facts up to support his argument if she engages in a debate with him. No evidence is shown in the documentary of Morano making facts up, however after a small amount of research I have found that Morano is indeed not very credible – he received just a 1 out of 5 star credibility rating at an online site.
This leads me to believe that Anna is correct in thinking that he will make facts up to refute real arguments put forward by climate change activists. This argument is sound and is very effective in the documentary, it shows the viewer that they can not trust the credibility of Mr. Morano, and therefor to mot listen to his arguments. TO be fair, the analysis of arguments is a very thought provoking and interesting topic. While Mark. Morano has in the past made good arguments against climate chage, Anna Rose definantly has a better grasp of the ideas of argumentative science.
Courtney from Study Moose
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