CSE 4/510 & PHI 498, Spring 2004

Suggestions and Guidelines
for Peer-Group Editing
of Position Paper #4

Last Update: 6 April 2004

Note: NEW or UPDATED material is highlighted

  1. Distribute your papers among the group members.

  2. Spend 10-15 minutes on each paper. (If we start at about 9:45, you'll have about 65 minutes. If there are 2 papers in your group, you can spend about 30 minutes on each; if there are 3, spend about 20 minutes on each; if there are 4, spend about 15 minutes on each.)

  3. Hint: This argument has a missing premise that will make it valid. But you will still have to decide whether you agree with that missing premise, and say why (i.e., you will have to give your own argument in favor of, or opposed to, the missing premise). For all practical purposes, you can assume that the other premises are true. They may, as a matter of fact, be false; but that falsity doesn't affect the validity of the argument, which is really about what might be the case in the future if all the explicit premises were true.

    One point that some of you may still not be entirely clear on: What if you disagree with the missing premise? Does that mean that the conclusion of this argument is false (in your opinion)? Not necessarily!

    If the argument (with the missing premise added) is valid, and if you agree with the missing premise (and all the others, at least for the sake of the argument), then you must--logically must--believe the conclusion.

    But if the argument (with the missing premise added) is valid, and if you don't agree with the missing premise, it does not logically follow that the conclusion must be false! All that follows is that this is a bad argument (in your opinion) for that conclusion. A bad argument for a conclusion is not the same as a good argument against that conclusion!

    So, if you didn't agree with the missing premise, then you have one more task: You need to decide if you agree or disagree with the conclusion for some other reason, and you must state that reason, preferably in the form of an argument with premises.

  4. For each paper, ask as many of the following questions as you have time for:

    1. Did the author identify a missing premise?
    2. Does the missing premise make the argument valid?
    3. Does the author state whether s/he agrees with the missing premise?
    4. Does the author give reasons for that belief?
    5. Does the author state whether s/he agrees with the conclusion?
    6. If the author disagreed with the missing premise, did s/he give better reasons for believing or disbelieving the conclusion?

  5. Keep a written record of the questions and replies. This will be useful to the author, for revision.

  6. At home, over the next week, please revise your paper to take into consideration the comments made by your fellow students (i.e., your "peers"): Perhaps defend your claims better, or clarify statements that were misunderstood, etc. For help, see Dima or me.

Copyright © 2004 by William J. Rapaport (rapaport@cse.buffalo.edu)
file: 510/peered4-2004-04-06.html