Philosophy 110: Practical Reasoning
Instructor: Gracyk

Portfolio Assignment
Summer 2004

To demonstrate your understanding of course objectives and to illustrate the practical nature of the skills covered, you are to compile and submit a portfolio of examples and argument analyses. 

For several sample portfolio pages, click here 

Finding Examples

From the list that follows at the end, you must find examples of arguments and fallacies that we've studied. Your portfolio must contain 10 distinct examples. You may take examples from any published source except logic publications. You can use books, magazines, newspapers, and the Internet. Examples can be advertisements, editorials, cartoons, letters to the editor, etc.

Only one example may be taken from any one author.

For texts of more than 50 words, you must circle or underline the passage you are analyzing. When it is practical to do so, provide the entire text (e.g., do not give me an isolated paragraph from a longer piece of writing). When drawing examples from a book, it will not be practical to give me the entire text. In that case, photocopy enough of the context to make the passage intelligible to me.

Analysis (for sample portfolio pages, click here)

  1. For each example, clearly label the category that it exemplifies. 
  2. Document your source. (Provide the same sort of documentation that would be used for a citation in a college research paper.)
  3. Identify the issue (in the form of a question). 
  4. For deductive and inductive arguments, reconstruct it in standard form, then evaluate its soundness. For the fallacies, skip the standard form reconstruction but explain how the fallacy occurs in the example.

Other Restrictions

You may not draw examples from logic books or web sites about logic. You may not use the same author twice. Periodicals and other dated material must be recent. (No, you can't use those old magazines mom stores in the basement.) Examples from magazines, newspapers, etc., cannot have been published before the start of the current academic semester.


You must submit 10 different examples with analyses. The examples are to be distributed as instructed among the four groups, and each example will demonstrate your knowledge of a different type of argument or fallacy. (For example, you can only provide one example of excluding possibilites in demonstrating knowledge of Group One. You can also do false dilemma in demonstrating knowledge of Group Three, but it must be a different example than the one used for Group One.)

Group One (Submit any 2 of these)  

  • Excluding Possibilities (Disjunctive Argument)
  • Modus Ponens
  • Modus Tollens
  • Chain or Hypothetical Argument
  • Categorical Syllogism

Group Two  (Submit any 2 of these)  

  • Reasoning from Generalities
          (Inductive Prediction)
          (Argument with statistical premises)
  • Arguments that Generalize
  • Reasoning by Analogy
  • Causal Argument

Group Three (Submit any 3 of these)  

  • False Dilemma (Limited options) 
  • Denying the antecedent
  • Affirming the consequent
  • Slippery Slope
  • Lack of Relevance (Red herring)
  • Prejudicial Language (Slanters, Ambiguity, and Equivocation)
  • Misuse of hypothesis (Persuasive definition)
  • Begging the Question and Loaded Question
  • Inconsistency

Group Four (Submit any 3 of these)  

  • Appeal to Fear (Scare Tactics), Pity, or Good Intentions
  • Wishful Thinking
  • Appeal to Ignorance
  • Misuse of Authority
  • Ad Hominem (personal attack) and Phony Refutation
  • Appeal to Common Practice or Belief (Bandwagon)
  • Appeal to Tradition
  • Provincialism (e.g., nationalism)
  • Strawman


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Last updated June 3, 2004