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SOCI 2P00 (11)
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Chapter 4

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2P10 Chapter 4: What Words or Phrases Are Ambiguous?  Identifying the precise meaning of key words or phrases is an essential step in deciding whether to agree with someone’s opinion. If you fail to check for the meaning of crucial terms and phrases, you may react to an opinion the author never intended  You cannot react to an argument unless you understand the meanings (explicit or implied) of crucial terms and phrases -> how these are interpreted will often affect the acceptability of the reasoning  Before you can determine the extent to which you wish to accept one conclusion or another, you must first attempt to discover the precise meaning of the conclusion and the reasons. The Confusing Flexibility of Words  We often misunderstand what we read or hear because we presume that the meaning of words is obvious  A term or phrase is ambiguous when its meaning is so uncertain in the context of the argument we are examining that we need further clarification before we can judge the adequacy of the reasoning  Whenever you are reading or listening, force yourself to search for ambiguity; otherwise you may simply miss the point  Because we rely on words to get our points across when we communicate, there is no way to avoid ambiguity o When someone is trying to persuade us to believe or do something, that person has a responsibility to clarify an potential ambiguity before we consider the worth of the reasoning Locating Key Terms and Phrases  The first step in determining which terms of phrases are ambiguous is to use the stated issue as a clue for possible key terms o Key terms or phrases will be those terms that may have more than one plausible meaning within the context of the issue; that is, terms you know must be clarified before you can decide to agree or disagree with the communicator  Ambiguity refers to the existence of multiple possible meanings for a word or phrases  The next step in determining which terms or phrases are ambiguous is to identify what words or phrases seem crucial in determining how well the author’s reasons support her conclusion; that is, to identify the key terms in the reasoning structure. Once you locate these terms, you can determine whether their meaning is ambiguous  When searching for key terms and phrases, you should keep
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