Here is a simple worksheet you can use to evaluate any argument once you’ve put it into standard form.
Set Up: Put the Argument into Premise-Conclusion Form
Step 1: Reliability of the Source
Score: /7 1=Very low reliability 7=very high reliability
Explain why you gave the source the score you did:
Step 2: Relevance
For each premise assign a relevance ranking of low, medium, high then in a sentence explain your ranking. Identify any claims that might be comparative and identify the comparison class or write “ambiguous”.
P1. Low/Medium/High because:
P2. Low/Medium/High because:
P3. Low/Medium/High because:
P4. Low/Medium/High because:
*If premises are low relevance, their acceptability won’t matter. A true but irrelevant premise doesn’t increase likelihood of the conclusion being true.
Step 3: Acceptability
For each premise state whether it is acceptable, unacceptable, or unsure. If unsure because of language problems look for contextual clues. If unsure because you don’t have enough information, google it then reassess. Cite your sources. If unsure because of ambiguous comparison class, try to identify the author’s implied comparison class.
P1. Acceptable/Unacceptable/Unsure because:
P2. Acceptable/Unacceptable/Unsure because:
P3. Acceptable/Unacceptable/Unsure because:
P4. Acceptable/Unacceptable/Unsure because:
Step 4: Relative to What?
With respect to the conclusion, identify the correct comparison class. For example, if the conclusion is that a certain policy, technology, person, or group is bad, good, dangerous, cruel, helpful, etc., we must also answer, relative to what alternative policies? Also be sure to make the appropriate comparison of both costs and benefits. Comparing benefits of A to costs of B is a misleading comparison.