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Critical Thinking for Business

Chapters 2 › Unit 2: Complex argument analysis 2 View instructions Hide instructions

Complex argument analysis 2

You are the HR manager of a company. For training and life-long learning, you have successfully used the services of an education partner. They would like to promote adult education in your company by putting up a poster with a quote from Bertrand Russell. Russell is one of your favorite thinkers, so you say yes. The poster arrives and reads:

”The evils of the world are due to moral defects quite as much as to lack of intelligence. But the human race has not hitherto discovered any method of eradicating moral defects. Intelligence, on the contrary, is easily improved by methods known to every competent educator. Therefore, until some method of teaching virtue has been discovered, progress will have to be sought by improvement of intelligence rather than of morals.”
Bertrand Russell

The quote looks interesting, and your first reaction is to put up the poster. But then you remembered this course, so you decided to analyze the complex argument first.

Please analyze this complex argument following the steps that we have discussed:

Steps of argument analysis:

1. Put the argument in standard form.

a. Identify the main conclusion.
b. Identify all other relevant statements.
c. Identify and write hidden premises.
d. Simplify wording.
e. Draw the graph.

2. Check if the conclusion follows logically from the premises.
3. Check if the premises are true.

Overall, how do you rate this complex argument? Do you put up the poster?

Bertrand Russel: moral vs intelligence

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P1: The evils of the world are due to moral defects quite as much as to lack of intelligence.
Hidden: if we wish to decrease evil of the world, we need to work both on moral and on intelligence.

P2: But the human race has not hitherto discovered any method of eradicating moral defects.
Objection: religion, ethics, awareness training on moral issues (business and non business related)

P3: Intelligence, on the contrary, is easily improved by methods known to every competent educator.
Hidden: we are a competent educator, trust us to provide you with that.

Main Conclussion:
Therefore, until some method of teaching virtue has been discovered, progress will have to be sought by improvement of intelligence rather than of morals.
Hidden: for improving intelligence, use "us" as education partner.

Rephrase: no one can teach you virtue, but we can teach you skills. And these skills will help you make a better world.

But in fact: skills will help you make the world better, only if you are guided by superior moral principles. If you are not, the same skills could be used for nurturing evil of the world (e.g. destroying nature for profit in a very scientific managerial way).

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