The Making of Arguments
J. H. Gardiner

Part 3 out of 5

What should be the grounds of a just valuation of all the subjects
that can be presented at admission examinations which include
numerous options?

That question introduces us to a difficult inquiry. It is, of course,
not an intelligent method to attribute a value to each subject in
accordance with the time devoted to the examination in that subject.
What clue have we toward a better mode of determining the value
which ought to be attributed to each of the numerous electives,
when the young men cannot present all the permitted subjects,
and hardly three fifths of them, indeed, if the range is adequately
widened? I believe that the best criterion for determining the value
of each subject is the time devoted to that subject in schools which
have an intelligent program of studies. The Committee of Ten[22]
examined the number of subjects used in about two hundred of the
best secondary schools in this country, and the time-allotments for
the several subjects. They found a great variety of practice as to
both selection of subjects and time-allotments. You can hardly say
that there is an accepted time-allotment in these secondary schools
for any subject--not even for the old traditional subjects. The
time-allotments differ widely in different parts of the country, and
even in different schools in the same part of the country. If, then,
we are to determine by school time-allotments the valuations of the
different subjects, prescribed and elective, which may enter into
admission examinations, we must have some sort of standard programs for
secondary schools. At present (1896) I know no programs which can answer
that purpose, except the provisional programs of the Committee of Ten.
They may fairly be said to be the best-studied programs now before the
country, and to represent the largest amount of professional consent,
simply because they are the result of the work, first, of ninety school
and college teachers, divided into nine different conferences by
subject, and secondly, of ten representative teachers combining and
revising the work of the conferences, with careful reference to the
present condition of American schools.

32. Indirect Evidence. The term "indirect evidence" may be used for
all evidence as to fact in which reasoning consciously plays a part.
Without it we should be helpless in large regions of our intellectual
life, notably in science and history, and constantly in everyday life.
Clearly the line between direct and indirect evidence is vague and
uncertain; it is one of the first things learned in psychology that our
perceptions and judgments of things about us are almost never based
exclusively on the testimony of our senses, and that we are all the time
jumping to conclusions from very partial observations.

Professor Muensterberg gives the following example from his own
experience of this unintentional substitution of indirect evidence for

Last summer I had to face a jury as witness in a trial. While I was with
my family at the seashore my city house had been burglarized and I was
called upon to give an account of my findings against the culprit whom
they caught with part of the booty. I reported under oath that the
burglars had entered through a cellar window, and then described what
rooms they had visited. To prove, in answer to a direct question, that
they had been there at night, I told that I had found drops of candle
wax on the second floor. To show that they intended, to return, I
reported that they had left a large mantel clock, packed in wrapping
paper, on the dining-room table. Finally, as to the amount of clothes
which they had taken, I asserted that the burglars did not get more than
a specified list which I had given the police.

Only a few days later I found that every one of these statements was
wrong. They had not entered through the window, but had broken the lock
of the cellar door; the clock was not packed by them in wrapping paper,
but in a tablecloth; the candle droppings were not on the second floor,
but in the attic; the list of lost garments was to be increased by seven
more pieces; and while my story under oath spoke always of two burglars,
I do not know that there was more than one.[23]

Constantly in everyday life we make offhand assertions in the full
belief that we are giving direct evidence, when as a matter of fact we
are announcing inferences. The distinction is of importance in many
ways, and not least as a means of avoiding heat in argument; for to
question a man's inference is much less likely to make him angry than to
deny his statement of fact.

For the practical purposes of argument we may let the distinction
between observation and inference, and consequently that between direct
and indirect evidence, turn on whether the inference is a conscious and
readily distinguishable part of the judgment or not. Though bringing to
light an unconscious inference is often an essential part of the
detection of false reasoning, where there is no such practical
consequence, we need not be too curious here about the line between
direct observation and inference from observation. For the rough and
ready purposes of everyday arguments it is exact enough to say that
where you recognize that you are basing your conclusion as to a fact on
some process of reasoning, then you are resting on indirect evidence;
where you do not recognize the inference without reflection, you are
resting on direct evidence.

In the following discussion of reasoning I shall sometimes be dealing
with proving a fact, sometimes with arguing forward to a policy. In many
cases the two processes are practically identical, for if the fact is
established the policy follows as a matter of course: in these cases,
therefore, for the sake of convenience I shall use the terms
interchangeably, and keep them separate only where there is danger of

33. Reasoning. Though the various forms of reasoning and the
principles which they follow are the concern rather of psychology and
logic than of a practical work on the writing of arguments, yet these
sciences help us to understand the processes of the mind by which we
convince first ourselves, and then other people, of the existence of
facts, when for one reason or another direct testimony is wanting.
Psychology describes the processes of reasoning as part of the activity
of the mind, analyzes them into their parts, and shows their working.
Logic is concerned rather with the forms of reasoning: its aim is to
establish principles and rules the application of which will insure
correct reasoning.

I shall first briefly and very simply sketch the underlying nature of
the reasoning process as it is described by psychologists; then I shall
pass on to a practical application of the principles thereby attained;
next I shall set forth a few of the simplest and clearest of the
processes of reasoning which have been worked out by logic; and,
finally, I shall discuss each few of the best-recognized forms of false
reasoning. From both the psychological description and the rules of
logic we shall derive practical suggestions for establishing facts
which may be needed in an argument.

The essential feature of the process of reasoning is that it proceeds
from like to like, by breaking up whole facts and phenomena,
and following out the implications or consequences of one
or more of the parts.[24] For example, if I infer, when my dog
comes out of a barnyard with an apologetic air, and with blood and
feathers on his mouth, that he has been killing a hen, I am breaking
up the whole phenomenon of the dog's appearance, and paying
attention only to the blood and feathers on his head; and
these lead me directly to similar appearances when I have caught
him in the act. If I reason, Every student who can concentrate his
attention can learn quickly, George Marston has a notable power
of concentration, Therefore George Marston can learn quickly, I
again break up the abstraction _student_, and the concrete fact
_George Marston_, and pay attention in each to the single characteristic,
_concentration of attention_. Thus by means of these similar
parts of different wholes I pass from the assertion concerning the
class as a whole to the assertion concerning the concrete case.
This process first of analysis and then of abstraction of similars is
the essential part of every act of reasoning.

In intuitive or unreasoned judgment, on the other hand, we
jump to the conclusion without analyzing the intermediate steps.
If I say, _I have a feeling in my bones that it will rain to-morrow,_
or, _it is borne in on me that our team will win_, the sensations and
ideas that I thus lump together are too subtle and too complex for
analysis, and the conclusion, though it may prove sound, is not
arrived at by reasoning. The difference between such intuitive
and unreasoned judgments, and reasoning properly so called, lies
in the absence or the presence of the intermediate step by which
we consciously recognize and choose out some single attribute or
characteristic of the fact or facts we are considering, and pass
from that to other cases in which it occurs.

The skill of the reasoner therefore consists of two parts: first, the
sagacity to pick out of the complex fact before him, the attribute or
characteristic which is significant for his present purpose; and second,
the large knowledge of the subject which will enable him to follow it
into other cases in which it occurs with different circumstances, or, in
other words, to follow a similarity through diverse cases. Darwin's
great achievement in establishing the principle of evolution lay first
in the scientific sagacity which flashed home on him, after years of
patient study, that the one common fact in all the multitude of plants
and animals is that in the struggle for existence by which all living
beings persist, those who are best fitted to their circumstances
survive; and second, in his rich knowledge of the world of nature, which
made it possible for him to follow out this characteristic in all kinds
of plants and animals, and so to reach the general law. But whether it
be so world-sweeping a conclusion as his, or my conclusion that my dog
has killed a hen, the process is the same: analysis or breaking up of
the complex fact, and following out the consequences or implications of
some selected part of it into other cases.

All reasoning thus reduces itself in the end to a process of passing
from like to like: we notice that the present case is like other cases
which we already know: then, since these cases have always in the past
been accompanied by certain circumstances or consequences, we believe
that the present case will also show these same circumstances or
consequences. Whenever my dog has killed when the cases have been
similar in the blood and feathers on his mouth; in this case he has
blood and feathers on his mouth; therefore he must have killed a hen.
Individual plants and animals survive which are fitted to their
environment by special characteristics, and those which are not so
fitted die; species of plants and animals, as well as individuals, show
special adaptation to their environment; therefore species have survived
through the same process of natural selection.

It follows that reasoning, whether it results in a general law or in
concrete judgment, depends on the assumption that nature--and in nature
we mean here the whole universe as we know it is uniform; that there are
ties between facts which make it possible for us to be certain that if a
given fact occurs, then another fact always occurs with it as an effect,
or as a cause, or connected with it in some other manner. Without this
certainty of the uniformity of things there would be no reasoning, and
therefore no argument from indirect evidence. Huxley sets forth this
fundamental truth clearly and impressively at the beginning of the first
of his "Lectures on Evolution" (see p. 234).

For practical purposes the various types of this inference from
similarity can be conveniently thrown into three groups. As will be
obvious, there is no fixed and impassable line between them.

"If an inference relies upon a resemblance that is newly seen, rare, or
doubtful, it is called an inference from analogy; if it is made upon the
basis of an established classification, it is called a generalization;
if it involves a variety of resemblances so combined as to bear upon a
single point, it is usually or frequently called an inference from
circumstantial evidence."[25]

I will take up each of these types and show how we use them in the
practical work of argument. It will be seen that they vary greatly in
certainty of results.

34. Reasoning from Analogy. Analogy in its most tenuous form is
weak as a basis for an actual inference, though it is often effective as
a means of expressing an intuitive judgment where the reasons are too
subtle and diffused for formal explanation. When Lincoln in the middle
of the Civil War said that men do not swap horses while they are
crossing a stream, the analog, though subtle, was felt to be real.
Popular adages and proverbs are common modes of expressing such
deep-lying analogies: for example, "Where there is smoke there is fire";
"The slothful man saith, There is a lion in the way." Poetry too is full
of these subtle, pregnant similarities which link things in some one
aspect, but fail for all others.

To die; to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to. 'Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die; to sleep;--
To sleep? Perchance to dream! Ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffl'd off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause.

But, as in this case of Hamlet's, poetical analogies will not bear much
strain; the aspect in which the similarity holds is usually the only
aspect the two cases have in common, and to take poetry as a precise
formulation of fact is to sin against both humor and sound reasoning.

In daily life we are constantly reasoning by analogy. If you argue that
a certain man who has been successful at the head of a railroad will
therefore make a good president for a college because that also is a
complex institution, or that because self-government has worked well in
a certain school it will probably work well in a college, or that
because a friend has been cured of sleeplessness by taking a walk just
before going to bed therefore everybody who sleeps badly can be cured in
the same way,--in all these cases you are reasoning by analogy. In each
case it will be noticed you would pass from a similarity which exists in
a single case or in a small number of cases to the conclusion. The
reasoning is sound, however, only in so far as the similarity bears on
the actual purpose in hand: in the first example, if the success of the
railroad president arises from the power of understanding men and of
philosophic insight into large problems, the reasoning will probably be
valid; in the last example, if applied to insomnia due to overwork, it
might be bad.

In practical affairs it is easy to find examples of reasoning from
analogy, especially in arguments of policy. The first trial of city
government by commission depended on such reasoning: when Galveston,
Texas, was devastated by a storm it was reasoned that in business
matters a small body of picked men with absolute powers are most
efficient in an emergency, and that since the reconstruction of the city
was essentially a matter of business, such a body would best meet the
emergency. So the extension of commission government in other states at
first followed reasoning by analogy: government by commission worked
well in Galveston; it would probably work well in Des Moines. In the
same way with the arguments for a parcels post: they proceed from the
analogy of the present postal service, which has been successful so far
as it goes, and from the success of the parcels post in almost all the
countries of Europe. If you were arguing that "Association" (or
"soccer") football should be made one of the major sports at your
college, you would reason from the analogy of its great popularity with
Englishmen all over the world that it would also probably be popular in

When you use the argument from analogy, however, you must make sure that
the similarity between the two cases runs to the point you wish to
establish. In the following extract from an argument in favor of
commission government for all cities, the author explicitly limits his
reasoning from the analogy of Washington to the point of the extension
of the system to large cities.

If we look for successful governments by commission in this
country, it is not difficult to find them in our largest cities. The
city of Washington is governed by a small commission, and is
acknowledged to be one of our best-governed cities. While this
commission originated in an entirely different way from that of the
commission form of government, successful administration under its rule
is a valid answer to the argument that small commissions are suited only
to the administration of small cities.[26]

Whenever you use this type of reasoning, it is wise thus to limit its
bearing. If in an argument in favor of allowing secret societies in a
high school you rely on the analogy of college life, take pains to show
that the resemblance covers the social life of a school. If you were
arguing that your city should establish a municipal gymnasium, and
relied on the reasoning from the analogy of a family, in which all the
members have a direct interest in the health of the others, show that
this interest has practical grounds of welfare, and does not rest wholly
on affection. In every case, unless the limits of the analogy are
obvious, specify them in order to carry your readers safely with you.

35. False Analogy. A peculiar danger of the argument from analogy
is the fallacy which is known as false analogy, or reasoning to a
conclusion which the similarity does not support. Arguments in which
there are many figures of speech, especially when the style is at all
florid, are apt to slop over into this fallacy. To liken education to
the unfolding of a flower is all very well, if you do not go on to argue
that because the lily of the field neither toils nor spins, therefore a
child should do no work in school. It is said that M. Stolypin, the
late premier of Russia, once half apologized In the Duma for the
slowness of his reforms, saying that he Was like a man shooting with a
flintlock musket; to which one of the Liberal members replied that it
was not a question of weapons, but of aim, and that if his Excellency
was to go on shooting at the people, it would be better if he went on
using flintlocks. Under the auspices of the Carnegie Institution an
expert in business administration made an inquiry into the methods of
teaching and research in physics at various American universities, and
made recommendations based on the conduct of business establishments. A
professor of physics in answer showed in how many ways the analogy
between a business concern, whose end is profit, and a physical
laboratory, whose end is the advancement of knowledge, is false and
misleading. The expert had suggested a general research board to
correlate researches; the professor cited the cases of Airy, the
astronomer royal of England, who by his dominating position held back
astronomical research in England for a generation, and of Sir Humphry
Davy, who discouraged the work of Faraday, when the latter was his

The expert suggested that apparatus could be passed on from
one investigator to another: the professor replied that few men can use
apparatus designed for some one else's purpose, and that the cost of
reconstruction would exceed the cost of new machines. In short, he
completely riddled the argument from analogy set up by the expert.[27]

A notable example of conclusive refutation of an argument based on a
false analogy is to be found in William James's Ingersoll Lecture on
Immortality. He took up the ordinary argument against the immortality of
the soul, which, starting from the accepted physiological and
psychological formula, "Thought is a function of the brain," reasons
that therefore when the brain dies and decays, thought and consciousness
die, too.

This, then, is the objection to immortality; and the next thing in
order for me is to try to make plain to you why I believe that it has in
strict logic no deterrent power. I must show you that the fatal
consequence is not coercive, as is commonly imagined; and that, even
though our soul's life (as here below it is revealed to us) may be in
literal strictness the function of a brain that perishes, yet it is not
at all impossible, but on the contrary quite possible, that the life may
still continue when the brain itself is dead.

The supposed impossibility of its continuing comes from too superficial
a look at the admitted fact of functional dependence. The moment we
inquire more closely into the notion of functional dependence, and ask
ourselves, for example, how many kinds of functional dependence there
may be, we immediately perceive that there is one kind at least that
does not exclude a life hereafter at all. The fatal conclusion of the
physiologist flows from his assuming offhand another kind of functional
dependence, and treating it as the only imaginable kind.

When the physiologist who thinks that his science cuts off all hope of
immortality pronounces the phrase, "Thought is a function of the brain,"
he thinks of the matter just as he thinks when he says, "Steam is a
function of the teakettle," "Light is a function of the electric
circuit," "Power is a function of the moving waterfall." In these latter
cases the several material objects have the function of inwardly
creating or engendering their effects, and their function must be called
_productive_ function. Just so, he thinks, it must be with the brain.
Engendering consciousness in its interior, much as it engenders
cholesterin and creatin and carbonic acid, its relation to our soul's
life must also be called productive function. Of course, if such
production be the function, then when the organ perishes, since the
production can no longer continue, the soul must surely die. Such a
conclusion as this is indeed inevitable from that particular conception
of the facts.

Rut in the world of physical nature productive function of this sort is
not the only kind of function with which we are familiar. We have also
releasing or permissive function; and we have transmissive function.

The trigger of a crossbow has a releasing function: it removes the
obstacle that holds the string, and lets the bow fly back to its natural
shape. So when the hammer falls upon a detonating compound. By knocking
out the inner molecular obstructions, it lets the constituent gases
resume their normal bulk, and so permits the explosion to take place.

In the case of a colored glass, a prism, or a refracting lens, we have
transmissive function. The energy of the light, no matter how produced,
is by the glass sifted and limited in color, and by the lens or prism
determined to a certain path and shape. Similarly, the keys of an organ
have only a transmissive function. They open successively the various
pipes and let the wind in the air chest escape in various ways. The
voices of the various pipes are constituted by the columns of air
trembling as they emerge. But the air is not engendered in the organ.
The organ proper, as distinguished from its air chest, is only an
apparatus for letting portions of It loose upon the world in these
peculiarly limited shapes.

My thesis now is this: that, when we think of the law that thought is a
function of the brain, we are not required to think of productive
function only; _we are entitled also to consider permissive or
transmissive function_. And this the ordinary psychophysiologist leaves
out of account.[28]

The question of the validity of an analogy in reasoning is always, as
here, whether the similarity on which the reasoning rests really runs
between the two cases in hand, or is not merely a general resemblance
expressed by some phrase or word which seems to mean more than it does.
In other words, when you are testing an analogy, whether your own or an
opponent's, make sure that the similarity is real for the present case.
A picturesque figure of speech may add life to an argument, but it may
also cover a gap in the reasoning.

36. Reasoning by Classification or Generalization. Obviously the
strength of reasoning from analogy increases with the number of cases
which you can point to as showing the similarity on which you rely, for
you can then begin to generalize and classify.

Analogy expresses our natural tendency to assimilate the new to the old,
to interpret what is strange and unfamiliar in the light of what we
already know. It may therefore be described as classification in the
making. The resemblances which guide us are called analogies so long as
they are newly seen, rare, or doubtful; but as the number of cases
increases, analogy passes by insensible stages into established

An excellent example of this transition may be seen in the present state
of the argument in favor of commission government: at first, as we have
seen, it depended chiefly on reasoning from analogy; by this time enough
cities have adopted the plan to make it possible to classify them, and
so reason by generalization.

Generalization and classification, it may be noted in passing, are two
aspects of the same process of thought. When one passes from the
individual facts to the larger fact which brings them together, as in
the assertion, _Members of the Phi Beta Kappa are good scholars_, one
makes a generalization; when one asserts of an individual the larger
fact, as in the assertion, My _brother is a good scholar_ (My _brother
belongs to the class Good Scholars_), one makes a classification.

When a classification or generalization is constant and familiar, it
brings forth, by the natural economy of language, a name for the class
or the principle; "federation," "deciduous trees," "emotion," "terminal
moraine," are all names of classes; "attraction of gravity," "erosion,"
"degeneration," "natural selection," are names of principles which sum
up acts of generalization. Almost always these names begin as figures of
speech, but where they are used accurately they have a perfectly exact
meaning. Darwin has given some account of this process of language:

"It has been said that I speak of natural selection as an active power
or deity, but who objects to an author speaking of the attraction of
gravity as ruling the movements of planets? Every one knows what is
meant by such metaphorical expressions, and they are almost necessary
for brevity: so, again, it is difficult to avoid personifying the word
'Nature.' But I mean by Nature the aggregate action and product of many
laws, and by laws the sequence of events as ascertained by us."[30]

When the facts intended to be meant by a phrase are thus carefully
specified and delimited, the phrase ceases to be a figure of speech, and
becomes the name of a class or of a principle.

Generalization and classification always take place for purposes of
reasoning;[31] and reasoning which is dependent on them rests on the
assumption that things are uniformly correlated in nature; when we
throw things together into classes we assume that what is true for one
member of a class, so far as it is a member of that class, is true to
the same extent and for the purpose for which the class is made for all
other members of that class.

In practice a large part of our reasoning is through generalization and
classification; and as we have seen, it has a more substantial basis
than when we rest on an analogy. If you hear that your brother has been
elected to the Phi Beta Kappa, you reason from the generalization that
all members of the Phi Beta Kappa are high scholars to the inference
that your brother must have taken high rank. When I see a gang of
carpenters knocking off work at four o'clock in the afternoon, I infer
that they must belong to the union, because I know that unions as a
class have established an eight-hour day. If you were arguing that the
standards for graduation from your college should be raised, you would
try to show that each year enough men are graduated with low
intellectual attainments to make a class large enough to generalize
from. If you were arguing that your city should establish a municipal
gymnasium, you would try to show that of the boys and young men brought
before the police courts for petty mischief and more serious offenses
almost all have lacked the chance to work off their animal spirits in a
healthy way. Wherever you can thus establish your special case in a
class which has known characteristics or consequences, you can then
apply the characteristics and consequences of the class to your special

Where the class is recognized as having definite characteristics or
consequences, you can make your inference by showing that your case
falls within the class. Sometimes the stress of your reasoning will come
on making it clear that the consequence or characteristic on which your
reasoning depends really belongs to the class. If, for example, you were
arguing, as did the Class of '85 at Amherst College, that your college
should return to something like the old-fashioned classical education,
you would try to establish the fact that men who have had the
old-fashioned classical education are as a rule characterized by
intelligence, liberal culture, and open-mindedness. In such cases it is
the generalization on which the class is based which is the difficult
part of your task.

In general, however, if you can show your readers that the present case
belongs in a class of cases which can be recognized as belonging
together by virtue of definable characteristics, you have established an
excellent foundation for an inference based on those characteristics.

37. Reasoning by Causal Relation. Reasoning by generalization rises
greatly in certainty, however, whenever you can show the workings of
cause and effect. If a college receives every year from a certain school
a number of boys who are slack and lazy students, the dean of that
college may come to generalize and expect most of the boys from that
school to be poor timber. If, however, he finds that the master of the
school will take and keep any boy who lives in the town, he is able to
argue from this as a cause to the conclusion that the standards of the
school are low, and then from these low standards as a cause to the poor
quality of the graduates of the school.

Here is another example, from Professor James:

I am sitting in a railroad car, waiting for the train to start. It
is winter, and the stove fills the car with pungent smoke. The
brakeman enters, and my neighbor asks him to "stop that stove
smoking." He replies that it will stop entirely as soon as the car
begins to move. "Why so?" asks the passenger. "It _always_ does,"
replies the brakeman. It is evident from this "always" that the
connection between car moving and smoke stopping was a purely
empirical one in the brakeman's mind, bred of habit. But if the
passenger had been an acute reasoner ... [and had] singled out of
all the numerous points involved in a stove's not smoking the one
special point of smoke pouring freely out of the stove-pipe's mouth,
he would probably ... have been immediately reminded of the law that
a fluid passes more rapidly out of a pipe's mouth if another fluid
be at the same time streaming over that mouth.[32]

Here the passenger's certainty that the smoking would stop would have
been much increased if he had, as Professor James suggests, reasoned to
the cause, instead of trusting to the brakeman's generalization from

In scientific matters search for cause and effect the chief mode of
progress. General Sternberg's article "Yellow Fever and Mosquitoes"
(p. 251) is an admirable account of this advance from probability to
certainty, which comes from demonstrating the necessary sequence which
we call cause and effect. When Major Reed and his associates had shown
that in cases where mosquitoes were kept away there was no yellow fever,
but that in cases where infected mosquitoes were allowed to bite
patients yellow fever followed, they turned the probability that
mosquitoes were the transmitting agent of the fever into a certainty.
Likewise with the glacial theory: it had already in the time of the
elder Professor Agassiz been established that certain regions of
northern Europe and America could be classed together by the occurrence
of certain phenomena--rounded hills, ledges of rock smoothed off and
marked with scratches running more or less north and south, deposits of
clean gravel and sand, boulders of various foreign kinds of rock
scattered over the surface of the country; when he showed that glaciers
in their movements produce all these phenomena, he laid bare the cause
of the phenomena, and so demonstrated with practical certainty the
theory of the former existence of a huge glacial sheet in the northern
hemisphere. Wherever you can show that your case not only belongs to a
recognized class of cases, with recognized characteristics, but also
that in those characteristics there is a necessary sequence of cause and
effect, you have proved your point.

In the example above, of an argument for the establishment of a
municipal gymnasium, if after showing that all the boys and young men
who get into the courts have no normal and healthy way of working off
their natural animal spirits, you can show that in places where through
settlements or municipal action gymnasiums have been provided, the
number of arrests of boys and young men has greatly fallen off, you have
established the grounds for an inference of cause and effect which gives
your argument a wholly new strength. In the case of the argument for a
return to a classical course in a college, this sequence of cause and
effect would be very difficult to establish, for here you would be deep
down in the most complex and subtle region of human nature. Wherever it
is possible, however, lead the inference from a classification or
generalization on to an inference of cause and effect.

38. Induction and Deduction. Our next step is to consider how we
get the generalizations on which we base so much of our reasoning. As we
have seen, the science which deals with the making of them, with their
basis, and with the rules which govern inferences made from them is

Logicians generally distinguish between two branches of their science,
inductive and deductive reasoning. In inductive reasoning we pass from
individual facts to general principles; in deductive reasoning we pass
from general principles to conclusions about individual facts. The
distinction, however, draws less interest in recent times than formerly,
and logicians of the present generation tend to doubt whether it has any
vital significance.[33] They point out that in practice we
intermingle the two kinds almost inextricably, that the distinction
between facts and principles is temporary and shifting, and that we
cannot fit some of the common forms of inference into these categories
without difficult and complicated restatement.

Nevertheless, as deductive logic and inductive logic are ancient and
time-honored terms which have become a part of the vocabulary of
educated men, it is worth while to take some note of the distinction
between them, I shall not attempt here to do more than to explain a few
of the more important principles. I shall begin with inductive logic,
since that is the branch which deals with the making of generalizations
from individual fact, and therefore that which has most concern in the
arguments of the average man in his passage through life.

39. Inductive Reasoning. In inductive reasoning we put individual
facts and cases together into a class on the basis of some definable
similarity, and then infer from them a general principle. The types of
inductive reasoning have been reduced by logicians to certain canons,
but these reduce themselves to two main methods, which depend on whether
in a given piece of reasoning we start from the likeness between the
instances or the differences between them. On these two methods, the
method of agreement and the method of difference, hang all the processes
of modern science, and most of our everyday arguments.

The method of agreement has been defined as follows:

If two or more instances of the phenomenon under investigation have
only one circumstance in common, the circumstance in which alone all the
instances agree is the cause (or effect) of the given phenomenon.[34]

A few examples, which might easily be multiplied, will show how
constantly we use this method in everyday life. Suppose that a teacher
is annoyed at somewhat irregular intervals by whispering and laughing in
the back of the schoolroom, for which he can find no cause, but that
presently he notices that whenever a certain pair of boys sit together
there the trouble begins; he infers that these two boys are the cause of
the trouble.

In the old days before it had been discovered that the germs of malaria
are carried by mosquitoes, the disease was ascribed to a miasma which
floated over low ground at night; and the innkeepers of the Roman
Campagna, where malaria had almost driven out the population, urged
their guests never to leave their windows open at night, for fear of
letting in the miasma. In the lights of those days this was good
reasoning by the method of agreement, for it was common observation that
of all the many kinds of people who slept with their windows open most
had malaria. We are constantly using this method in cases of this sort,
where from observation we are sure that a single cause is at work under
diverse circumstances. If the cases are numerous enough and diverse
enough, we arrive at a safe degree of certainty for practical purposes.
As the case just cited shows, however, the method does not establish a
cause with great certainty. No matter how many cases we gather, if a
whole new field related to the subject happens to be opened up, the
agreement may be shattered.

The method of difference, which in some cases does establish causes with
as great certainty as is possible for human fallibility, works in the
opposite way: instead of collecting a large number of cases and noting
the single point of agreement, it takes a single case and varies a
single one of its elements. The method has been stated as follows:

If an instance in which the phenomenon occurs, and an instance in which
it does not occur, have every circumstance in common save one, that one
occurring only in the former; the circumstance in which alone the two
instances differ, is the effect, or the cause, or an indispensable part
of the cause, of the phenomenon.[35]

The principle is clearer and more apprehensible in the concrete example
than in the abstract statement; as a matter of fact it is applied in
every experimental search for a cause. The Agricultural College of New
York, for example, in the course of certain experiments on apple
orchards, bought an orchard which had not been yielding well, and
divided it into halves; one half was then kept plowed and cultivated,
the other half was left in grass; otherwise the treatment was the same.
When the half which was kept cultivated gave a much larger yield than
the other, it was safe to infer that the cultivation was the cause of
the heavier yield. Dr. Ehrlich, the great German pathologist, is said to
have tried six hundred and five different substances before he found one
which would kill the germ of a certain disease; in each experiment he
was using the method of difference, keeping the conditions the same in
all except a single point, which was the addition of the substance used
in that particular experiment. Wherever the conditions of an experiment
can be thus controlled, the method of difference gives a very accurate
way of discovering causes. With advancing knowledge a supposed cause may
be in turn analyzed in such a way that each of its parts can be
separately varied, in order to come more closely to the actual sequence

It has been pointed out[36] that the two methods are really statements
of what is required for the verification of a theory at two stages of
its growth: when we are first getting a glimpse of a causal connection
between two facts we collect all the cases in which they occur in as
much variety as possible, to see if the connection is really universal;
then, having established the universal sequence, we come to close
quarters with it in a single critical instance, varying the conditions
singly until we run down the one without which the effect cannot take

No neater and more illuminating example of this relation between the two
methods and the successful working of them can be found than that in the
article by General Steinberg, "Yellow Fever and Mosquitoes" (p. 251).
In that case first Dr. Carlos Finlay of Havana, and then Dr. Sternberg
himself, had become convinced by comparing many cases of yellow fever
that there was some intermediate host for the bacillus that caused the
disease. This conclusion they reached through the method of agreement.
Dr. Finlay's experiments by the method of difference had failed,
however, indisputably to establish the cause, since he did not see that
it was necessary to allow the bacillus at least twelve days for
incubation in the body of the mosquito. The final and definitive proof,
which came through the splendid self-devotion of the surgeons in charge
of the experiment and of certain enlisted men who volunteered to be made
the subject of the experiment, was by the method of difference. These
brave men allowed themselves to be exposed to mosquitoes which had
already bitten patients suffering from the fever, and they promptly came
down with the disease; one of them, Dr. Lazear, gave his life for his
devotion to the cause of his fellow men. Then other men were exposed in
a mosquito-proof room to clothes and other articles brought directly
from yellow-fever patients, and showed no ill effects. Thus it was
absolutely proved, though the bacillus itself had not been found, that
yellow fever is carried by mosquitoes, and is not carried by ordinary

The unsuccessful experiments of Dr. Finlay and the later success of
Major Reed show how science advances by refinement of analysis in the
use of the method. The hypothesis on which the former worked was that
all mosquitoes who had bitten a yellow-fever patient can carry the
disease. Dr. Reed and his associates analyzed the phenomenon more
closely and tried their experiments on the hypothesis that only
mosquitoes who have lived twelve days after biting the patient are
capable of passing on the disease. This refinement of analysis and
observation is the chief mode of advance in the sciences which depend on

Scientific arguments, therefore, make constant use of both methods.
Medical research frequently begins with the gathering of statistics from
reported cases, and the theory or theories suggested by the method of
agreement working on these facts leads to the application of the method
of difference through some series of critical experiments. In general
the conclusions of science where experiment cannot be used depend on the
method of agreement, especially in the larger theories in biology and
geology, where the lapse of unnumbered centuries is necessary to bring
about changes. In physics, in chemistry, in medicine, on the other hand,
critical experiments are generally possible, and so progress is by the
method of difference. In such subjects as political science and
government, where experiment is out of the question, one must depend
chiefly on the method of agreement, except in such cases as will be
mentioned below where a change in policy has the same effect as an
experiment. Here, however, one must not forget that in all matters human
the incalculable clement of human nature enters to complicate all
results, and that emotion and feeling are always irrational.

It is by the same processes that we get most of our explanations of the
world as we go through it, and most of the facts on which we base
judgment and action. When the same sort of thing happens in a number of
fairly different cases, we begin to suspect that there is a reason; and
if we are going to make an argument on the subject, we take note of the
cases and try in some way to arrange and tabulate them. The supporters
of a protective tariff collect instances of prosperity under such a
tariff, the supporters of free trade cases of prosperity under free
trade, the believers in the classical education cases of men trained in
that way who have attained to eminence, believers in the elective system
cases of men who are the products of that system who have attained equal
eminence. In most cases such collection of instances does not carry you
far toward a coercive argument; the cases are too complex for you to
assert that any one factor is the cause of the result.

In another kind of case you can come a little nearer. In an argument for
the establishment of a commission form of government in a given city or
town there are now enough cases of this type of government in practice
to make possible a good argument by the method of agreement; the places
are scattered over the country, north and south, east and west, and
range greatly in size and environments; and all of them so far (1911)
report improvement in efficiency and honesty of government. Accordingly
it is a fair presumption that the improvement is due to the introduction
of the new form of government, since in all other respects the places
which have tried it have little in common.

A more important result of the inquiry is to lead us on to an
application of the method of difference. Starting with this strong
probability that the improvement is due to the new form of government,
we can go a step further and examine a single case, in order to
establish more clearly the sequence of events which we call a cause. In
the case of any given town which has adopted the commission government
the material for the application of the method of difference is ready to
our hands, if nothing else has been changed in the town but the form of
government. The inhabitants and the voters are the same, the physical
conditions are the same. If now we seek for the cause of an admitted
improvement in the administration of the city affairs, we are driven to
ascribe it to the only factor in the case which has been changed, and
this is the form of government. Such an argument, if supported by
figures and specific facts, is obviously strong.

The same kind of argument is constantly used in the discussion of
prohibition and local option as a means of reducing the amount of liquor
consumed in a community, for the frequent changes both in states and in
smaller communities provide material for the application of the same
method of difference. Here, however, the factors are more complex, on
account of differences in the character of the population in different
places, and their inherited habits as concerns the use of wine, beer,
and other liquors.

40. Faulty Generalization. Both generalization through the method
of agreement, and the assignment of causes through the method of
difference, however, have their dangers, like all forms of reasoning. A
discussion of these dangers will throw light on the processes

The chief danger when you reason through the method of agreement is of
jumping to a conclusion too soon, and before you have collected enough
cases for a safe conclusion. This is to commit the fallacy known as
hasty generalization. It is the error committed by the dogmatic sort of
globetrotter, who after six weeks spent in Swiss-managed hotels in Italy
will supply you with a full set of opinions on the government, morals,
and customs of the country. In a less crass form it affects the judgment
of most Englishmen who write books about this country, for they come
over with letters of introduction to New York, Boston, Chicago, and San
Francisco, and then generalize about the rest of the country and its

We are all in danger from the fallacy, however, for it is a necessary
law of the mind that we shall begin to make opinions and judgments on a
subject as soon as we become acquainted with it. The only safeguards
are, in the first place, to keep these preliminary judgments tentative
and fluid, and in the second, to keep them to one's self until there is
some need of expressing them. The path to wisdom in action is through
open-mindedness and caution.

When one has to refute an argument in which there is faulty
generalization, it is often easy to point out that its author had no
sufficient time or chance to make observations, or to point out that the
instances on which he relied are not fair examples of their class. In
practice the strength of an argument in which this error is to be found
lies largely in the positiveness with which it is pronounced; for it is
human nature to accept opinions which have an outward appearance of

A not uncommon form of faulty generalization is to base an argument on a
mere enumeration of similar cases. This is a poor foundation for an
argument, especially for a probability in the future, unless the
enumeration approaches an exhaustive list of all possible cases. To have
reasoned a few years ago that because Yale had beaten Harvard at rowing
almost every year for fifteen years it had a permanent superiority in
the strength and skill of its oarsmen would have been dangerous, for
when the years before the given period were looked up they would have
shown results the other way. And an enumeration may run through a very
long period of time, and still in the end be upset.

To an inhabitant of Central Africa fifty years ago, no fact probably
appeared to rest on more uniform experience than this, that all human
beings are black. To Europeans not many years ago, the proposition, 'All
swans are white,' appeared an equally unequivocal instance of uniformity
in the course of nature. Further experience has proved to both that they
were mistaken; but they had to wait fifty centuries for this experience.
During that long time, mankind believed in an uniformity of the course
of nature where no such uniformity really existed.[37]

Unless you have so wide and complete a view of your subject that you can
practically insure your enumeration as exhaustive, it is not safe to
reason that because a thing has always happened so in the past, it will
always happen so in the future. The notorious difficulty of proving a
negative goes back to this principle.

So closely like hasty generalization that it cannot be clearly separated
from it is faulty reasoning that arises from neglecting exceptions to a
general principle. All our generalizations, except those that are so
near truisms as to be barren of interest, are more or less rough and
ready, and the process of refining them is a process of finding
exceptions and restating the principle so that it will meet the case of
the exceptions.

Darwin is said to have had "the power of never letting exceptions pass
unnoticed. Every one notices a fact as an exception when it is striking
or frequent, but he had a special instinct for arresting an
exception."[38] It was this instinct which made him so cautious and
therefore so sure in the statement of his hypotheses: after the idea of
natural selection as an explanation of the origin of the species of the
natural world had occurred to him, he spent twenty years collecting
further facts and verifying observations to test the theory before he
gave it to the world. A generalization that the republican form of
government produces greater peace and prosperity than the monarchical
would neglect the obvious exceptions in the Central American republics;
and to make it at all tenable the generalization would have to have some
such proviso as, "among peoples of Germanic race." Even then the
exceptions would be more numerous than the cases which would fall within
the rule.[39] One must cultivate respect for facts in making theories: a
theory should always be held so tentatively that any new or unnoticed
facts can have their due influence in altering it.

Of the errors in reasoning about a cause none is more common than that
known by the older logic as _post hoc, ergo propter hoc_ (after this,
therefore on account of it), or more briefly, the _post hoc_ fallacy.
All of us who have a pet remedy for a cold probably commit this fallacy
two times out of three when we declare that our quinine or rhinitis or
camphor pill has cured us; for as a wise old doctor of two generations
ago declared, and as the new doctrines of medical research are making
clear, in nine cases out of ten nature cures.

Of the same character are the common superstitions of daily life, for
example, that if thirteen sit at table together one will die within the
year, or that crossing a funeral procession brings misfortune. Where
such superstitions are more than playfully held, they are gross cases of
calling that a cause which has no relation to the event. Here is another
example, from a letter to _The Nation:_[40]

In the last volume of the Shakespeare controversy, the argument
presented "To the Reader" seems fairly to be summarized as follows: The
plays are recognized as wonderful; scholars are amazed at the knowledge
of the classes in them, lawyers at the law, travelers at the minute
accuracy of the descriptions of foreign cities; they show a keen critic
of court etiquette and French soldiery; the only possible man of the
time with this encyclopedic outlook was Francis Bacon. Both in the
original and in the summary there seems a _casual_ connection implied,
namely, that the plays are wonderful because of the knowledge, and
because of the knowledge Bacon is the author. But, stated thus baldly,
the fallacy is obvious. It is not because the author "had by study
obtained nearly all the learning that could be gained from books" that
the Elizabethans went to see the plays, or that we to-day read them; but
it is because there is to be found in them wonderful characterization
expressed dramatically, namely, before an audience. And this audience is
what the scholars seem to forget. For by it is the dramatist limited,
since profundity of thought or skill in allusion is good or bad,
artistically, exactly in proportion as the thought is comprehended or
the allusion understood.

Sometimes this fallacy is caused by assuming that because a certain
result followed an event in the only case known, therefore there was a
causal connection. In a hearing before a committee of the Massachusetts
legislature on a bill to establish closer relations between Boston and
its suburbs, the question was asked of a witness whether he believed
that in the case of London "the London police would have been as
efficient as they are now if there had been no annexation" of the
surrounding towns; he very properly replied: "That's a hard question to
answer, because we have only the existing side to look at. We don't know
what it would have been as separate communities." Wherever multiple
causes are possible for a phenomenon it is unsafe to argue from a single

Another form of error in reasoning to a cause is to assume that a fact
is simple, when it is really complex, as in the following example:

I do not think I am overstepping the bounds when I say that the headship
of no corporation, or state, or even the headship of the United States,
requires greater general ability, force of character, or knowledge of
administration than the head of administration of a great city like New
York or Berlin. The latter we know to be well administered, the
former--well, let us say, less so. The whole difference is in the
systems. Apply the Berlin system to New York, and you will get Berlin

Here the writer wholly ignores all sorts of active causes for this
difference: Berlin has a tolerably homogeneous population, New York the
most heterogeneous in the world; Germans by nature respect law and
authority, and hanker for centralization; Americans make and break laws
light-heartedly, and are restive under authority; and one might easily
go further.

Arguments that national prosperity has followed a higher or a lower
tariff are especially apt to be vitiated by this error. It is not that
the tariff has no relation to the prosperity, but that there are other
causes intermingled with it which may have had more immediate effect. A
bad grain crop or a season of reckless speculation may obliterate all
the traceable causes of a change in the tariff. Arguments from motive,
too, are apt to fall into this error. It is notorious that human motives
are mixed. If you argue that a whole class of business organizations are
evil because they have been formed solely for the purpose of making
inordinate and oppressive profits, you leave out of sight a motive which
is strong among American business men--the interest in seeing a great
business more efficiently managed, and the desire to exercise power
beneficently; and your argument suffers from its illegitimate assumption
of a simple cause. So in the same way if you are arguing for or against
the advantages of the elective system in a school or a college, or of a
classical education, or of athletics, it would be folly to assume that
any one cause or effect covered the whole case. Whenever in an argument
you are trying to establish any such large and complex fact, you must be
wary lest you thus assume a single cause where in reality there are a
legion of causes.

41. Deductive Logic--the Syllogism. Deductive logic, as we have seen,
deals with reasoning which passes from general principles to individual
cases. Its typical form is the syllogism, in which we pass from two
propositions which are given to a third, the conclusion. Of the two
former one is a general principle, the other an assertion of a
particular case. The classic example of the syllogism, which started
with Aristotle and has grown hoary with repetition, and so venerable
that it is one of the commonplaces of educated speech, runs as follows:
_All men are mortal, Socrates is a man, Therefore Socrates is mortal_.
Here there is the general principle, _All men are mortal_, and the
assertion about the particular case, _Socrates is a man_. The two have
one term in common, _men_ (or more strictly, the class Man), which is
known as the middle term, through which we reach the conclusion that the
characteristic of mortality in which all men are similar is true also of
Socrates, by virtue of his being a man. Of the other terms, _mortal_,
which is the more inclusive, is known as the major term, and _Socrates_,
the less inclusive, as the minor term. The first two propositions are
the premises, that which contains the major term being known as the
major premise, and the other as the minor premise.

The validity of the syllogism lies, as I have said, in the assertion of
a general principle, and the bringing of the particular case in hand
under that principle: if the principle is granted as incontrovertible,
and the special case as really coming under it, the conclusion is

On the syllogism in its various forms deductive logic has built up an
imposing structure of rules and conclusions. In practice the value of
the syllogism is largely indirect. The trouble with it in itself as a
mode of progress in reasoning is twofold: in the first place there are
very few general principles which, if you are cautious, you will accept
without reservations; and in the second place the crucial question in
another set of cases is whether the given case really falls under the
general principle. The syllogism, _All great statesmen are farsighted,
Daniel Webster was a great statesman, Therefore Daniel Webster was
farsighted_, sounds simple; but two generations have disagreed on the
question whether Webster was a great statesman; and both _great
statesman_ and _farsighted_ are such vague and inclusive terms that one
would either accept a general principle of which they are terms as a
harmless truism, or else balk at being asked to grant a proposition
which might have unexpected meanings thrust into it. This double
difficulty pursues the syllogism as a device for forwarding knowledge:
either it sets forth a truth so large and vague that you cannot say
whether you accept it for all cases or not, or else the disagreement
comes on one of the premises, and unless both the premises are granted,
strictly syllogistic reasoning does not get under way.

Nevertheless, the syllogism has great practical value for the reasoning
and arguments of everyday life: in the first place it affords a means of
expanding and scrutinizing the condensed forms of reasoning which are so
common and so useful; and in the second place it can be used to sum up
and state the results of a course of reasoning in incontrovertible form.
I shall examine and illustrate both these uses of the syllogism; but
first I shall give certain rules which govern all sound reasoning
through syllogisms. They were invented by Aristotle, the great Greek

42. The Rules of the Syllogism. (A term is said to be distributed,
or taken universally, when the proposition of which it is a part makes a
statement about all the objects included in the term. In the proposition
_All men are mortal_, the term _men_ is obviously distributed, but
_mortals_ is not; for no assertion is made about all mortals but only
about those that are included under all men. In the proposition _No hens
are intelligent_, both terms are distributed; for the assertion covers
all hens, and also the whole class of intelligent beings, since it is
asserted of the class as a whole that it contains no hens.)

I. A syllogism must contain three terms, and not more than three

This rule is to be understood as guarding against ambiguity, especially
in the middle term; if the middle term, or either of the others, can be
understood in two ways, the syllogism will not hold water.

II. A syllogism must consist of three and only three propositions.
The reasons for this rule are sufficiently obvious.

III. The middle term of the syllogism must be distributed at least once
in the premises.

If it were not thus distributed or taken universally, the two premises
might refer to separate parts of the middle term, and so there would be
no meeting ground on which to form the conclusion. In the syllogism,
All good athletes lend a clean life, These men lead a clean life,
Therefore these men are good athletes, the fallacy lies in the fact
that in neither premise is any assertion made about all men who lead a
clean life. This fallacy, which is not uncommon in practice where the
terms are complicated, is known as the fallacy of the undistributed

IV. No term must be distributed in the conclusion unless it was
distributed in at least one of the premises.

In other words, if you have premises which deal with part of a class
only, you cannot reach a conclusion about the whole class. In the
syllogism, All newspaper editors know how to write, All newspaper
editors are paid, Therefore all men who know how to write are paid, the
fallacy is obvious. But in the following, _All bitter partisans are
dangerous citizens, This man is not a bitter partisan, Therefore this
man is not a dangerous citizen_, one may have to scrutinize the
reasoning a little to see that the fallacy lies in the fact that
_dangerous citizen_ is taken universally in the conclusion, since a
proposition with a negative predicate makes an assertion about the whole
of its predicate, but that it is not taken universally in the premise in
which it occurs. A fallacy which thus arises from not noticing that a
negative predicate distributes its term is apt to be insidious.

V. No conclusion can be drawn from two negative premises.

In other words, if both the major term and the minor term lie outside
the middle term, the syllogism gives us no means of knowing what their
relation is to each other. The following example will make the reason
clear: _No amateur athlete has a salary for playing, John Gorman is not
an amateur athlete, Therefore John Gorman has a salary for playing_.

VI. If one of the premises is negative, the conclusion must be

If of the major and minor premise one is negative, then either the major
or the minor term does not agree with the middle term, and the other
does; therefore the major and minor term cannot agree with each other.

43. The Syllogism in Practical Use. The practical value of the
syllogism and its rules comes in the first place, as I have said, when
we expand a condensed form of reasoning into its full grounds in the
form of a syllogism. Our reasoned judgments ordinarily take the
shortened form, _Socrates is mortal, because he is a man; The
Corporation Tax Bill is constitutional, because it is a tax on a way of
doing business._ In each of these cases we are reasoning from a general
principle, which is previously established, and from a particular way of
conceiving the special fact before us, but we assume the general
principle as understood. In the cases above the meaning is clear without
declaring at length, _All men are mortal,_ or _All taxes on a way of
doing business are constitutional._

At any time, however, when you find a piece of reasoning in this
condensed form, whether your own or some one else's, which seems to you
suspicious, if you expand it into a full syllogism you will have all its
parts laid bare for scrutiny. Take, for example, the assertion,
_"Robinson Crusoe" must be a true story, for everything in it is so
minutely described_: if you expand it into the full syllogism, _All
books in which the description is minute are true, "Robinson Crusoe" is
a book in which the description is minute, Therefore "Robinson Crusoe"
is true_, you would at once stick at the major premise. So where you
suspect an ambiguity in the use of terms, you can bring it to the
surface, if it is there, by the same sort of expansion. In the argument,
_Bachelors should be punished, because they break a law of nature_, the
ambiguity becomes obvious when you expand: _All law breakers should be
punished, Bachelors break a law of nature, Therefore bachelors should be
punished_; at once you see that _law_ is used in two senses, one the
_law of the land_, the other the statement of a uniformity in nature. In
the argument, _These men are good citizens, for they take an interest in
politics_, the expansion to _All good citizens are interested in
politics, These men are interested in politics, Therefore these men are
good citizens,_[41] shows that the reasoning contains a breach of the
third rule of the syllogism (see p. 148) and is therefore a case of the
fallacy of the undistributed middle.

Whenever you make or find an assertion with a reason attached by such a
word as "since," "for," or "because," or an assertion with a consequence
attached by a word like "therefore," "hence," or "accordingly," you have
a case of this condensed reasoning, which, theoretically at any rate,
you can expand into a full syllogism, and so go over the reasoning link
by link.

Sometimes, however, the expansion is far from easy, for in many of the
practical exigencies of everyday life our judgments are intuitive, and
not reasoned. In such judgments we jump to a conclusion by an
inarticulate, unreasoned feeling of what is true or expedient, and the
grounds of the feeling may be so shadowy and complex that they can never
be adequately displayed.

"Over immense departments of our thought we are still, all of us, in the
savage state. Similarity operates in us, but abstraction
has not taken place. We know what the present case is like, we know
what it reminds us of, we have an intuition of the right course to take,
if it be a practical matter. But analytic thought has made no tracks,
and we cannot justify ourselves to others. In ethical, psychological,
and aesthetic matters, to give a clear reason for one's judgment is
universally recognized as a mark of rare genius. The helplessness of
uneducated people to account for their likes and dislikes is often
ludicrous. Ask the first Irish girl why she likes this country better or
worse than her home, and see how much she can tell you. But if you ask
your most educated friend why he prefers Titian to Paul Veronese, you
will hardly get more of a reply; and you will probably get absolutely
none if you inquire why Beethoven reminds him of Michael Angelo, or how
it comes that a bare figure with unduly flexed joints, by the latter,
can so suggest the moral tragedy of life.... The well-known story of the
old judge advising the new one never to give reasons for his decisions,
'the decisions will probably be right, the reasons will surely be
wrong,' illustrates this. The doctor will feel that the patient is
doomed, the dentist will have a premonition that the tooth will break,
though neither can articulate a reason for his foreboding. The reason
lies embedded, but not yet laid bare, in all the previous cases dimly
suggested by the actual one, all calling up the same conclusion, which
the adept thus finds himself swept on to, he knows not how or why."[42]

The small boy who said that he could not keep step because he had a cold
in his head was relying on a sound general truth, _Colds in the head
make one stupid_, for his major premise, but his condition prevented his
disentangling it; and all of us every day use minor premises for which
we should be incapable of stating the major.

A second practical use of the syllogism is to set forth a chain of
reasoning in incontrovertible form. If you have a general principle
which is granted, and have established the fact that your case certainly
falls under it, you can make an effective summing up by throwing the
reasoning into the form of a syllogism.

Conversely, you can use a syllogism to bring out some essential part of
the reasoning of an opponent which you know will not commend itself to
the audience, as did Lincoln in his debate with Douglas at Galesburg.
Douglas had defended the Dred Scott decision of the United States
Supreme Court, which decided that the right of property in a slave is
affirmed by the United States Constitution. Lincoln wished to make the
consequences of this doctrine as glaringly evident as possible. He did
so as follows:

I think it follows, and I submit to the consideration of men capable
of arguing, whether as I state it, in syllogistic form, the argument
has any fault in it.

Nothing in the Constitution or laws of any State can destroy a right
distinctly and expressly affirmed in the Constitution of the United

The right of property in a slave is distinctly and expressly
affirmed in the Constitution of the United States.

Therefore, nothing in the Constitution or laws of any State can
destroy the right of property in a slave.

I believe that no fault can be pointed out in that argument;
assuming the truth of the premises, the conclusion, so far as I have
capacity at all to understand it, follows inevitably.[43]

Lincoln knew that this doctrine that no state could interfere with
slavery would be intolerable to the people of Illinois, before whom he
was carrying on his campaign; and this syllogism made clear to them the
consequences of the decision of the Supreme Court.

Or you can use a syllogism to make obvious a flaw in the reasoning of
your opponent, as in the following example:

In view of the history of commission government in this country so far
as it has been made, the burden of proof rests with those who attempt to
show that a government which has been so successful in cities of
moderate size will not be successful in our largest cities. The
syllogism they are required to prove runs briefly thus:

Commission government is acknowledged to have been successful in cities
as large as one hundred and thirty thousand inhabitants, but

It has not been tried in cities containing more than one hundred and
thirty thousand inhabitants;

Therefore, it will not be successful in cities of four hundred thousand
or larger, which is a _reductio ad absurdum_.

The folly of the attempt is shown by the very statement of the

44. The Dilemma. One special form of the syllogism is at times so
strong an argument that it deserves special mention here, namely, the
dilemma. This is a syllogism in which the major premise consists of two
or more hypothetical propositions (that is, propositions with an "if"
clause) and the minor of a disjunctive proposition (a proposition with
two or more clauses connected by "or").

In the course of the Lincoln-Douglas debate a question was put by
Lincoln to Douglas, as follows: "Can the people of a United States
territory in any lawful way, against the wish of any citizens of the
United States, exclude slavery from its limits, prior to the formation
of a state constitution?" The question may be viewed as the source of a
dilemma, both in the practical and in the syllogistic sense of the term.
In fact it involved a situation which, syllogistically, comprised more
than one dilemma. They may be stated as follows:

I. If Douglas answers yes, he offends the South, and if he answers no,
he offends the North;

But he must answer either yes or no;

Therefore he will offend either the South or the North.

II. If Douglas offends the South, he loses the nomination for the
Presidency in the next convention; and if he offends the North, he loses
the election to the United States Senatorship (and his chances for the

But he must offend either the South or the North;

Therefore he loses either the Presidency or the Senatorship.

Or, III. If Douglas offends the South, he cannot become President; and
if he offends the North, he cannot become President;

But he must offend either the South or the North;

Therefore he cannot become President.[45]

The dilemma, if it leaves no hole for the other side to creep through,
is an extremely effective argument in politics and in competitive
debate. If you can thus get your adversary between the devil and the
deep sea on a point that in the eyes of your audience is interesting and
critical, you have crippled his case. But if the point is not momentous,
though your audience may find the dilemma amusing, you run the risk of
the reproach of "smartness" if you crow very loudly over it.

On the other hand, a dilemma that is not exhaustive will hold no one.
Many of the arguments against the imposition of a federal tax on
corporations assumed that if the tax were imposed it would soon be made
unreasonable in amount. Most arguments that the other side will abuse
any power that is given to them may be regarded as falling into the
class of incomplete dilemma. A speaker who uses a leaky dilemma must
have great confidence in the unintelligence of his audience, but it is
surprising to see how often such dilemmas occur in political debates.

45. Reasoning from Circumstantial Evidence. The third type of
reasoning from similarity named on page 120 is reasoning from
circumstantial evidence. The term is familiar to every one from murder
trials and detective stories. Webster's argument in the White Murder
Case, from which I print a short extract on page 157, is a famous
example of an argument on circumstantial evidence; and in fiction Sir
Conan Doyle has created for our delectation many notable and ingenious
cases of it. But reasoning from circumstantial evidence is far from
being confined to criminal cases and fiction; as Huxley points out (see
p. 241), it is also the basis of some of the broadest and most
illuminating generalizations of science; and the example below from
Macaulay is only one of innumerable cases of its use in history.

Reasoning from circumstantial evidence differs from reasoning from
analogy or generalization in that it rests on similarities reaching out
in a number of separate directions, all of which, however, converge on
the case in hand. This convergence is pointed out by Macaulay in the
following admirable little argument on the authorship of the _Junius
Letters_, which were a series of pseudonymous and malignant attacks on
the British government about 1770:

Was he [Francis] the author of the Letters of Junius? Our own firm
belief is that he was. The evidence is, we think, such as would support
a verdict in a civil, nay, in a criminal proceeding. The handwriting of
Junius is the very peculiar handwriting of Francis, slightly disguised.
As to the position, pursuits, and connections of Junius, the following
are the most important facts which can be considered as clearly proved:
first, that he was acquainted with the technical forms of the secretary
of state's office; secondly, that he was intimately acquainted with the
business of the war office; thirdly, that he, during the year 1770,
attended debates in the House of Lords, and look notes of speeches,
particularly of the speeches of Lord Chatham; fourthly, that he bitterly
resented the appointment of Mr. Chamier to the place of deputy
secretary-at-war; fifthly, that he was bound by some strong tie to the
first Lord Holland. Now, Francis passed some years in the secretary of
state's office. He was subsequently chief clerk of the war office. He
repeatedly mentioned that he had himself, in 1770, heard speeches of
Lord Chatham; and some of these speeches were actually printed from his
notes. He resigned his clerkship at the war office from resentment at
the appointment of Mr. Chamier. It was by Lord Holland that he was first
introduced into the public service. Now, here are five marks all of
which ought to be found in Junius. They are all five found in Francis.
We do not believe that more than two of them can be found in any other
person whatever. If this agreement does not settle the question, there
is an end of all reasoning on circumstantial evidence.[46]

Here the five points or marks of similarity between the writer of the
letters and Philip Francis are of such diversity that it would be an
extraordinary coincidence if there had happened to be two men whom they
would fit: where so many lines converge so closely at a single point it
would hardly be possible for them to meet on more than one person.

The following brief extract from Webster's argument in the White Murder
Case shows the same sort of convergence of similarities: each
circumstance in itself is hardly strong enough to furnish ground for an
argument on analogy, but taken all together they point irresistibly in
one direction, namely, to the fact of a conspiracy.

Let me ask your attention, then, in the first place, to those
appearances, on the morning after the murder, which have a tendency to
show that it was done in pursuance of a preconcerted plan of operation.
What are they? A man was found murdered in his bed. No stranger had done
the deed, no one unacquainted with the house had done it. It was
apparent that somebody within had opened, and that somebody without had
entered. There had obviously and certainly been concert and cooperation.
The inmates of the house were not alarmed when the murder was
perpetrated. The assassin had entered without any riot or any violence.
He had found the way prepared before him. The house had been previously
opened. The window was unbarred from within, and its fastening
unscrewed. There was a lock on the door of the chamber in which Mr.
White slept, but the key was gone. It had been taken away and secreted.
The footsteps of the murderer were visible, outdoors, tending toward the
window. The plank by which he entered the window still remained. The
road he pursued had thus been prepared for him. The victim was slain,
and the murderer had escaped. Everything indicated that somebody within
had cooperated with somebody without. Everything proclaimed that some of
the inmates, or somebody having access to the house, had had a hand in
the murder. On the face of the circumstances, it was apparent,
therefore, that this was a premeditated, concerted murder; that there
had been a conspiracy to commit it.[47]

The strength of reasoning from circumstantial evidence lies in the
number and the diversity of the points of similarity to the point in
hand. If there are few of them, the possibility of coincidence
increases, as it also does when the points of similarity come from the
same source or are of the same nature. This possibility of coincidence
is a good rough test of the value of reasoning from circumstantial
evidence: where the theory of a coincidence would stretch all
probabilities one may safely leave it out of account.

In practice the argument from circumstantial evidence is more frequent
in the experience of lawyers than in that of other men; but sooner or
later everybody has to pass on such reasoning, for wherever direct
evidence is out of the question it may be necessary to piece the
situation together by circumstantial evidence. There is some prejudice
against such evidence, springing from reported cases of miscarriage of
justice in convictions based on it. Such cases, however, are very rare
in reality, and probably do not equal in number the cases in which
mistaken or false direct testimony has caused injustice.

46. Some Pitfalls of Reasoning--Ambiguity. I have already spoken of
some of the dangers to which reasoning is subject--false analogy, faulty
generalization of various kinds, and various sins against the rules of
the syllogism. There are still a few general dangers to speak about. It
should be noted that the various kinds of fallacies run into each other,
and not infrequently a given piece of bad reasoning can be described
under more than one of them.

Of all the sources of faulty and misleading reasoning, ambiguity is the
most fruitful and the most inclusive.

It springs from the facts that words, except those which are almost
technically specific, are constantly used in more than one sense, and
that a great many of the words which we use in everyday life are
essentially vague in meaning. Such common words as "liberty," "right,"
"gentleman," "better," "classic," "honor," and innumerable others each
need a treatise for any thorough definition; and then the definition, if
complete, would be largely a tabulation of perfectly proper senses in
which the words can be used, or a list of the ways in which different
people have used them. Besides this notorious vagueness of many common
words, a good many words, as I have already shown (p. 54), have two or
more distinct and definable meanings.

Strictly speaking, the ambiguity does not inhere in the word itself, but
rather in its use in an assertion, since ambiguity can arise only when
we are making an assertion. It has been defined as "the neglect of
distinctions in the meaning of terms, when these distinctions are
important for the given occasion."[48] Suppose, for example, you are
arguing against a certain improvement in a college dormitory, on the
ground that it makes for luxury: clearly "luxury" is a word that may
mean one thing to you, and another to half of your audience. By itself
it is an indefinite word, except in its emotional implication; and its
meaning varies with the people concerning whom it is used, since what
would be luxury for a boy brought up on a farm would be bare comfort to
the son of wealthy parents in the city. Indeed the advances of plumbing
in the last generation have completely changed the relative meanings of
the words "comfort" and "luxury" so far as they concern bathrooms and
bathtubs. In the case of such a word, then, the weight of the definition
above falls on the last clause, "when these distinctions are important
for the given occasion"; here is a case where the occasion on which the
word "luxury" is used determines nearly the whole of its meaning. In
practice, if you have a suspicion that a word may be taken in another
sense than that you intend, the first thing to do is to define it--to
lay down as exactly as possible the cases which it is intended to cover
on the present occasion, and the meaning it is to have in those cases.
For good examples of this enlightened caution, see the definitions on
pages 54-65, especially that from Bagchot.

A similar difficulty arises with the words which, in the somewhat
slipshod use of everyday life, have come to have as it were a sliding

We may raise no difficulty about understanding the assertions that
Brown, and Jones, and Robinson are "honest," but when we come to the
case of Smith we discover a difficulty in placing him clearly on either
side of the line. That difficulty is nothing less than the difficulty of
knowing the meaning given to the word in this particular assertion. We
might, for instance, agree to mean by Smith's "honesty" that no shady
transactions could be legally proved against him, or that he is "honest
according to his lights," or again that he is about as honest as the
majority of his neighbors or the average of his trade or profession.[49]

That this is not a fanciful case can be shown by noticing how often we
speak of "transparent" honesty, or of "absolute" honesty: this is
notably one of the words for which we have a sliding scale of values,
which vary considerably with the age and the community. "Political
honesty" has a very different meaning in the England of to-day from that
which it had in the eighteenth century. To get at the exact meaning of
honesty, then, either for Mr. Sidgwick's Brown, Jones, Robinson, and
Smith, or for Mr. Asquith and Mr. Balfour as compared with Walpole or
Pitt, we need a good deal more than a dictionary definition. What has
already been said (p. 65) on the use of the history of the case to get a
preliminary understanding of the question which is to be argued, and the
terms to be used in it, applies all through the reasoning involved in
the argument. Scrutinize all the terms you use yourself, as well as
those used in arguments on the other side. I have already pointed out
the ambiguity there is in the emotional implications of words; but the
danger from it is so subtle and so besetting that it will be worth while
to dwell on it again. There are many cases in which there is no doubt as
to the denotation of the word,--the cases which it is intended to
name,--but in which the two sides to a controversy use the word with a
totally different effect on their own and other people's feelings.
Before the Civil War pretty much the whole South had come to use the
word "slavery" as implying one of the settled institutions of the
country, more or less sanctified by divine ordinance; at the same time a
large portion of the North had come to look on it as an abomination to
the Lord.

Here there was no doubt as to the denotation of the word; but in a
highly important respect it was ambiguous, because it implied a totally
different reaction among the people who used it. In a case where the
contrast is so glaring there is little danger of confusion; but there
are a good many cases where a word may have very different effects on
the feelings of an audience without the fact coming very clearly to the
surface. "Liberal" is to most Americans a term implying praise, so far
as it goes; to Cardinal Newman it implied what were to him the
irreverent and dangerous heresies of free thought, and therefore in his
mouth it was a word of condemnation.[50] "Aesthetic" to many good people
has an implication of effeminacy and of trifling which is far from
praiseworthy; to artists and critics it may sum up what is most
admirable in civilization. If in an argument on abolishing football as
an intercollegiate sport you describe a certain game as played "with
spirit and fierceness," football players would think of it as a good
game, but opponents of football would hold that such a description
justified them in classing the game with prize fighting. When one of the
terms you use may thus stir one part of your audience in one way, and
the other part in just the opposite way, you are dealing with an
uncomfortable kind of ambiguity.

It is easy to get into the way of thinking that the denotation of a
word--the things which it names--is the only part of its meaning that
counts; but with many words the connotation--I use the word in the
rhetorical rather than in the logical sense, to include its
implications, associations, and general emotional coloring--has more
effect on human nature. There is a good deal of difference between
telling a man that his assertion is "incorrect," "untrue," or "false";
if you use the last and he is at all choleric you may bring on an
explosion. In argument, where you are aiming to persuade as well as to
convince, the question of the feelings of your audience and how they
will be affected by the terms you use is obviously of great importance.
And if you are using such terms as "gentleman," "political honesty,"
"socialist," "coeducation," you must not forget that such words have a
definite emotional connotation, which will vary largely with the reader.

47. Begging the Question. The fallacy of "begging the question"
consists of assuming as true something that the other side would not
admit. It is especially insidious in the condensed arguments of which I
spoke a few pages back. A common form of the fallacy consists of
slipping in an epithet which quietly takes for granted one's own view of
the question, or of using some expression that assumes one's own view as
correct. For example, in an argument for a change in a city government,
to declare that all intelligent citizens favor it would be begging the
question. In an argument for the protection of crows, to begin, "Few
people know how many of these useful birds are killed each year," would
be to beg the question, since the argument turns on whether crows are
useful or not. A gross and uncivil form of this fallacy is to use
opprobrious epithets in describing persons who take the other view, as
in the following sentence from an article in a magazine on the question
of examinations for entrance to college:

As for interest and variety, what could destroy and taboo both more
effectually than the rigid and rigorous demands of a formal set of
examinations prepared, as a rule, by pedantic specialists who know
practically nothing of the fundamental problems and needs of the high

Begging the question is often committed in the course of defining terms,
as in the following passage from Cardinal Newman's "Idea of a

It is the fashion just now, as you very well know, to erect
so-called Universities, without making any provision in them at all
for Theological chairs. Institutions of this kind exist both here
[Ireland] and in England. Such a procedure, though defended by
writers of the generation just passed with much plausible argument
and not a little wit, seems to me an intellectual absurdity; and my
reason For saying so runs, with whatever abruptness, into the form
of a syllogism:--A University, I should lay down, by its very name
professes to teach universal knowledge; Theology is surely a branch
of knowledge; how then is it possible for it to profess all branches
of knowledge, and yet to exclude from the subjects of its teaching
one which, to say the least, is as important and as large as any of
them? I do not see that either premise of this argument is open to

The obvious answer is that "university" is a vague term and that there
may be many kinds of universities, as indeed there are in this country;
moreover, the importance of theology is an arguable matter even among
church members.

A well-recognized, but often subtle, form of begging the question is
what is known as "arguing in a circle." Usually the fallacy is so
wrapped up in verbiage that it is hard to pick out. Here is a clear and
well-put detection of a case of it:

There is an argument in favor of child labor so un-American and so
inhuman that I am almost ashamed to quote it, and yet it has been used,
and I fear it is secretly in the minds of some who would not openly
stand for it. A manufacturer standing near the furnace of a glasshouse
and pointing to a procession of young Slav boys who were carrying the
glass on trays, remarked, "Look at their faces, and you will see that it
is idle to take them from the glasshouse in order to give them an
education: they are what they are, and will always remain what they
are." He meant that there are some human beings--and these Slavs of the
number--who are mentally irredeemable, so fast asleep intellectually
that they cannot be awakened; designed by nature, therefore, to be
hewers of wood and drawers of water. This cruel and wicked thing was
said of Slavs; it is the same thing which has been said from time
immemorial by the slave owners of their slaves. First they degrade human
beings by denying them the opportunity to develop their better nature:
no schools, no teaching, no freedom, no outlook; and then, as if in
mockery, they point to the degraded condition of their victims as a
reason why they should never be allowed to escape from it.[52]

In a diffuse and disorderly argument there is always a chance to find
some begging of the question which may consist either of getting back to
an assumption of the original proposition and so arguing in a circle, or
of simply assuming that what has been asserted has been proved. The
fallacy of the invented example, in which a fictitious case is described
as an illustration, and presently assumed as a real case, is a not
uncommon form of begging the question.

48. Ignoring the Question. This is a closely allied error in
reasoning that is apt to be due to the same kind of confused and woolly
thinking. It consists in slipping away from the question in debate and
arguing vigorously at something else. A famous exposure of the fallacy
is Macaulay's denunciation of the arguments in favor of Charles I:

The advocates of Charles, like the advocates of other malefactors
against whom overwhelming evidence is produced, generally decline all
controversy about the facts, and content themselves with calling
testimony as to character. He had so many private virtues! And had James
the Second no private virtues? Was Oliver Cromwell, his bitterest
enemies themselves being judges, destitute of private virtues? And what,
after all, are the virtues ascribed to Charles? A religious zeal, not
more sincere than that of his son, and fully as weak and narrow-minded,
and a few of the ordinary household decencies which half the tombstones
in England claim for those who lie beneath them. A good father! A good
husband! Ample apologies indeed for fifteen years of persecution,
tyranny, and falsehood!

We charge him with having broken his coronation oath; and we are told
that he kept his marriage vow! We accuse him of having given up his
people to the merciless inflictions of the most hot-headed and
hard-hearted of prelates; and the defense is, that he took his little
son on his knee and kissed him! We censure him for having violated the
articles of the Petition of Right, after having, for good and valuable
consideration, promised to observe them; and we are informed that he was
accustomed to hear prayers at six o'clock in the morning! It is to such
considerations as these, together with his Vandyke dress, his handsome
face, and his peaked beard, that he owes, we verily believe, most of his
popularity with the present generation.[53]

In an argument for woman suffrage on the ground that suffrage is a right
which ought not to be denied, it would be ignoring the question merely
to enumerate the various ways in which the responsibility of a vote
might help to better the condition of women.

To ignore the question by trying to lead the public off on a false scent
is a constant device of officials who are accused of misconduct. A
United States senator whose election had been questioned gave in his
defense a full and harrowing account of the struggles of his boyhood. A
board of assessors who had been charged with incompetence ended their
defense, in which they had taken no notice of the charges, as follows:

Criticism of the Board of Assessors comes with poor grace from those
whose endeavors for the common good are confined to academic essays on
good government. It savors too much of the adroit pickpocket, who,
finding himself hard pressed, joins in the chase, shouting as lustily as
any of the unthinking rabble, "Stop, thief!"

The curious thing is that this trick of crossing the scent does lead so
many people off the trail.

The so-called _argumentum ad hominem_ and the _argumentum ad populum_
are special cases of ignoring the question: they consist of appeals to
the feelings or special interests of the reader or the audience which
run away from the question at issue. They are not uncommon in stump
speeches, and in other arguments whose chief purpose is to arouse

An argument on the tariff, for example, sometimes runs off into appeals
to save this grand country from ruin or from the trusts or from some
other fate which the speaker pictures as hanging over an innocent and
plain people. An argument for the restoration of the classical system of
education which should run off into eulogies of the good old times might
easily become an _argumentum ad populum_; an argument in favor of a new
park which should dwell on selfish advantages which might be gained by
the abutters without regard to larger municipal policy would probably be
an _argumentum ad hominem_.

Obviously these two forms of shifting the issue trench closely on the
element of persuasion in an argument, and in making the distinction you
must apply common sense. Your adversary may reprove you for an
_argumentum ad hominem_ or _ad populum_, when you believe that you are
keeping well within the bounds of legitimate persuasion; but in general
it is safe to guard your self-respect by drawing a broad line between
dodging and unworthy appeals to prejudice and justifiable appeals to
feeling and personal interest.


1. Name a question of policy which would be settled by the establishment
of some controverted fact.

2. Find in the daily papers an account of a trial in which evidence was
declared inadmissible under the rules of law which would have been taken
into account by the average man outside the court in making up his own

3. Name three questions in which the evidence would be affected by
temperamental and other prepossessions of the witness.

4. Name a scientific question in which some important fact is
established by reasoning from other facts.

5. Cite a case, either from real life or from fiction, in which a fact
was established by circumstantial evidence; analyze the evidence and
show how it rests on reasoning from similarity.

6. Give a case in which what you believed to be direct observation of a
fact deceived you.

7. Give an example from your own experience within a week where vague
authorities have been cited as direct evidence.

8. What would you think of the writer of the following sentences as a
witness to the numbers and importance of the participants in the woman
suffrage procession he is reporting?

Fifth Avenue has seldom, if ever, been more crowded than on Saturday
afternoon, and never anywhere have I seen so many women among the
spectators of a passing pageant. Throngs, many tiers deep, flanked
the line of march, and these throngs were overwhelmingly composed of
women. As I passed from block to block I could not get away from the
thought that the vastest number of these were sick of heart and
ashamed that they, too, were not in line behind the kilted band that
headed the procession, the historic symbolic floats, and the
inscribed banners, along with their three thousand or more sisters.
Here were women, fighting a good fight for the cause of women--for
the underpaid factory workers and the overfed lady of fortune who is
deprived the right of voice in the government over her inherited
property. (Report in a daily paper, May 8, 1911)

9. Find an example of historical evidence in a case where there are no
direct witnesses to the fact; discuss it according to S. R. Gardiner's
tests (p. 103).

10. Find two examples from the daily papers where statistics are used to
establish a complex fact.

11. Name two subjects on which you could gather statistics, and the
sources from which you would draw them.

12. Bring to class the testimony of a recognized authority on some
complex fact, and explain why his testimony carries weight.

13. Name a subject on which you can speak with authority, and explain
why your testimony on that subject should carry weight.

14. Give an example from your own experience of a case in which it is
hard to distinguish between direct and indirect evidence.

15. Find in the daily papers or current magazines an argument based on
reasoning by analogy; one based on reasoning by generalization; one
based on circumstantial evidence; explain the character of each.

16. Find an example of an argument based on reasoning from a causal

17. Find an example of an argument from enumeration of like cases which
might be easily upset.

18. In the proposition, "A gentleman ought not to become a professional
baseball player," what meaning could be given to the word

19. Distinguish between the meanings of _law_ in the phrases "moral
law," "natural law," and "law of the land."

20. What different meanings would the word "comfort" have had in the
days of your grandfather, as compared with the present day?

21. Give, two examples of words with "sliding meanings."

22. Give two examples of words whose denotation is fixed, but whose
connotation or emotional implications would be different with different

23. Find an example of false analogy.

24. Criticize the reasoning in the following extract from a letter to a
newspaper urging Republican and Democratic tickets at the municipal
election in a small city in the country.

It is an acknowledged fact that competition in the business life of
our city is beneficial to the consumer. If that be so, why will not
competition in city affairs bring equally good results to the

25. Give an example you have recently heard of hasty generalization;
explain its weakness.

26. Give an example of your own of the _post hoc_ fallacy.

27. Give an example of false reasoning based on assuming a complex fact
to be simple.

28. Criticize the reasoning in the following extracts:

a. [Dispatch to a daily paper.] Haverhill, March 30, 1911. Opponents
of commission form of government are deriving no little satisfaction
from the development of testimony borne out by figures taken from
the auditing department of the city of Haverhill that this method
of administering municipal affairs has proved thus far to be a
costly experiment there.... The total amount of bonds issued during
the past twenty-seven months, covering the period of operation of
commission form of government, was $576,000; the present borrowing
capacity of the city is only approximately $35,000; that the city's
bonded debt has increased from $441,264 to $1,181,314 in the past
five years; the net bonded debt has more than doubled within three
years; that the assessed valuation has increased $5,000,000; and the
tax rate has been raised from $17.40 to $19 in five years. The
borrowing capacity of $341,696 on January 1, 1906, has decreased to
$95,000 on January 1, 1911.... Commission form of government went
into effect in Haverhill on the first Monday in January, 1909.

b. From an article in a magazine, opposing the plan of the
postmaster-general to increase the postage on the advertising
sections of magazines: consider especially the word "censorship":

We see two grave objections to the postmaster-general's plan. First,
it requires a censorship to determine what periodicals are
"magazines" whose advertising pages are to be taxed, and what are
the educational and religious periodicals which are to continue to
enjoy what the President calls a "subsidy." Such a censorship would
be a new feature in postal administration, and it would seem to be a
thing very difficult to work out on any fair basis.

29. In a newspaper report of an inquiry made by the director of the
Columbia University gymnasium into the effects of smoking, the following
sentences occur:

In scholarship the nonsmokers had the distinct advantage. The
smokers averaged eighty per cent in their studies at entrance,
sixty-two per cent during the first two years, and seven per cent of
failure. The nonsmokers got ninety-one per cent in their entrance
examinations and sixty-nine per cent in their first two years in
college, while only four per cent were failures. In this respect Dr.
Meylan thinks there is a distinct relation between smoking and

Of the same set of students forty-seven per cent of the smokers won
places on varsity athletic teams, while only thirty-seven per cent
of the nonsmokers could get places.

If the next to the last sentence had read, "Smoking therefore seems to
be a cause of low scholarship," what should you think of the reasoning?

30. Criticize the reasoning in the following portion of an argument for

Dr. Williams says, "We find no evidence that the prohibition laws
have in the past been effective in diminishing the consumption of
alcoholic beverages." ... The absence of logic in Dr. Williams's
conclusion will be readily seen by substituting the homicide evil
and the greed evil for the liquor evil in his argument.

Since its establishment the United States has sought to remedy with
prohibition the homicide evil. Every state has laws with severe
penalties prohibiting murder. And yet the number of homicides in
the United States has steadily increased until the number in 1910
was eight thousand nine hundred and seventy-five. Since, then,
homicides have steadily increased during the past hundred years
under a law with severe penalties prohibiting them, a prohibitory
law has not been and cannot be a remedy for homicide.

31. Criticize the reasoning in the following extract from an argument
for the electrification of the terminal part of a railroad:

It is true that locomotive smoke and gas do not kill people
outright; but that their influence though not immediately measurable
is to shorten life cannot, I submit, be successfully combated.... A
few years ago I made some calculations based on the records of ten
years' operation of the railroads in this state, and found that if a
man should spend his whole time day and night riding in railroad
trains at an average rate of thirty miles an hour, and if he had
average good luck, he would not be killed by accident, without his
fault, oftener than once in fifteen hundred years, and that he would
not receive any injury of sufficient importance to be reported
oftener than once in five hundred years. I ask you to estimate how
long a man would, in your opinion, live if he were obliged
continuously day and night to breathe the air of our stations
without any opportunity to relieve his lungs by a breath of purer
and better air.

32. Give an example in which you yourself have used the method of
agreement in arriving at a conclusion in the last week.

33. Give an example, from one of your studies, of the use of the method
of agreement.

34. Give an example, which has recently come to your notice, of the use
of the method of difference.

36. Criticize the following syllogisms, giving your reasons for thinking
them sound or not:

a. All rich men should be charitable with their wealth; Charitable
men forgive their enemies; Therefore all rich men should forgive
their enemies.

b. Every man who plays baseball well has a good eye and quick
judgment; Every good tennis player has a good eye and a quick
judgment; Therefore every good tennis player is a good baseball

c. Whenever you find a man who drinks hard you find, a man who is
unreliable; Our coachman does not drink hard; Therefore he is

d. All the steamships which cross the ocean in the quickest time are
comfortable; This steamship is slow; Therefore she is not

e. All dogs who bark constantly are not bad-tempered; This dog does
not bark constantly; Therefore he is not bad-tempered.

f. All cold can be expelled by heat; John's illness is a cold;
Therefore it can be expelled by heat. (From Minto)

g. The use of ardent spirits should be prohibited by law, seeing
that it causes misery and crime, which it is one of the chief ends
of law to prevent. (From Bode)

h. Rational beings are accountable for their actions; brutes not
being rational, are therefore exempt from responsibility. (From

36. Expand the following arguments into syllogisms and criticize their

a. The snow will turn to rain, because it is getting warmer.

b. The boy has done well in his examination, for he came out looking

c. We had an economical government last year, therefore the tax rate
will be reduced.

d. Lee will be a good mayor, for men who have energy and good
judgment can do incalculable good to their fellow citizens.

e. There is unshaken evidence that every member of the board of
aldermen received a bribe, and George O. Carter was a member of that

f. The candidate for stroke on the freshman crew came from Santos
School, therefore he must be a good oarsman.

37. Criticize the reasoning in the following arguments, pointing out
whether they are sound or unsound, and why:

a. It costs a Nebraska farmer twenty cents to raise a bushel of
corn. When corn gets down to twenty cents he cannot buy anything,
and he cannot pay more than twelve or fifteen dollars a month for
help. When it gets up to thirty-five cents the farmer gives his
children the best education possible, and buys an automobile.
Therefore the farmer will be ruined if the tariff on corn is not

b. For many years the Democratic platforms have declared explicitly
or implicitly against the duties on sugar; if the Democrats should
come into power and reduce the duties, they would lose their
strength in the states producing cane sugar and beet sugar; if they
do not reduce the duty, they admit that their platforms have been
insincere. (Condensed from an editorial in a newspaper. March, 1911)

c. I hardly need say that I am opposed to any such system as that of
Galveston, or to call it by its broader name, the commission system.
It is but another name for despotism. Louis XIV was a commissioner
for executing the duties of governing France. Philip II was the same
in Spain. The Decemvirs and Triumvirs of Rome were but the same sort
of thing, as was also the Directory in France. They all came to the
same end. Says Madison, in No. XLVII of _The Federalist_: "The
accumulation of all powers, legislative and judiciary, in the same
hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary,
self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very
definition of tyranny." Mr. justice Story said, "Whenever these
departments are all vested in one person or body of men, the
government is in fact a despotism, by whatever name it be called,
whether a monarchy, an aristocracy, or a democracy."

d. The procedure of Berlin has in it an element of fairness worthy
of our consideration; those representing large property interests
have a surety of being at least represented. Some such system must
be devised if the holding of properly at all be regarded as moral
and necessary to our civilization. Remember that you are, in a large
sense, but a chartered joint-stock corporation. Can you imagine the
control of any other joint-stock corporation delivered over to those
who have no stock or the least stock in it? Can you imagine the New
York & New Haven Railroad, for example, controlled by the
passengers, to the exclusion of the stock holders? Now this, to a
very great degree, is what has happened in many of our cities. We
have deprived the true stockholders, in some cases, of any
representation whatever. I thus hold that to give property some
voice in the control of a municipal corporation is but sense and

e. We have tried commissions in Buffalo in branches of our city
government. They have tried them in nearly every city in this
country. We have governed our police by commissions, our parks by
commissions, our public works by commissions. Commission government
was for many years a fad in this country, and it has become
discredited, so that of late we have been doing away with
commissions and coming to single heads for departments having
executive functions and some minor legislative functions, such as
park boards, and police boards, and have been trying to concentrate
responsibility in that way. In Erie County and throughout New York a
commission elected by the people governs our counties. The board of
supervisors is a commission government. It has never been
creditable--always bad, even as compared with our city governments.
To be sure, it is not just that kind of commission government. It is
a larger commission; it is not elected at large, but by districts,
but it is an attempt at the same thing. So I say there is nothing
new about this idea of government by a commission.


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