Logical Gal finds a ‘reasonable’ editorial in local paper

30 Dec

Finally, a well-articulated editorial in our local, one-sided newspaper!

I love to read the paper because it’s the source of discussion for my husband and me and I also find topics for this blog.

So last night I was pleased to find a guest editorialist present his position and then back it up with reasons.  Hence, he wrote a ‘reasonable’ essay.

His premise was clear:  let’s dump the Affordable Care Act and initiate better reform to the current health care system.  He then did what every logical Joe and Jane should do: he presented several reasons for his first premise (dumping the incoming system), followed by carefully described proposals supporting his second premise (reforming the old way).

I haven’t studied the issue enough to be able to have facts, figures and various scenarios at my finger tips, but the way he wrote made reading and thinking through the 2 arguments easy to follow.  I was then able to discuss the issues with my husband. It’s axiomatic that we can’t articulate what we don’t understand.

So as we close out 2013, let’s go into the New Year with at least one tool that will help us to read, think and communicate better.

When you read, look for the premises – the main points.  Ask yourself: What is the author trying to say?  I often underline such premises or propositions when I read to learn (as opposed to reading for diversion).  Once you have identified the premises, then look for the reasons.  Remember, that a premise often is a conclusion that has to be supported.  You don’t have to support everything you say; some things are accepted by all people.

The sun came out today – a fact that is accepted in your local area, or at least by meteorologists.

It’s better when the sun shines brightly – this is a hypothesis that needs shoring up with reasons.

If the writer or speaker offers NEITHER clear premises, NOR reasons for his beliefs, then don’t waste your time reading any further.

Conversely, when you yourself write, take the time to formulate a syllogism for each position you are offering. That simple 3- proposition formula will guide your writing so you’re less likely to forget a major point or ramble.

Here is an example of what could be the core of an essay:

Main point, what you’re arguing:

America’s health care system should be reformed, not replaced

Reasons or premises (P1, P2) to back your point, your conclusion:

P1: Retaining smaller, individual delivery systems (rather than replacing them with one massive federal program) can more easily adapt to particular needs of consumers

P2: Small but significant changes can make health care more affordable, more ‘tailorable’ and more responsive to individuals

‘They’ say that if you’re looking for a job, or for investors to support a new product, you should have a 30-second elevator speech ‘in your pocket’. This ‘commercial’ would explain either to the CEO or to a seed-fund Patron who happened to join your elevator why they should hire you/ invest in your idea.  And to do that, you need to know what you’re ‘selling’ and why.   We’re always selling ideas at the very minimum.  Let’s resolve to work out what we believe and why for those matters important to us.

 

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