Creating a Valid Argument Workshop and Week 3 Scholarly Arguments on Both Sides assignment.
Topic- Should public universities in the United States be free?
Your paper should include the following elements:
Introduction (approximately 150 words)
· Introduce readers to your topic.
· Include a brief preview of what you will accomplish in this paper.
First Argument (approximately 200 words)
· Present the best argument on one side of the issue.
· Put your argument in standard form, with the premises listed one by one above the conclusion.
· You may put the premises into your own words, or you may quote a source. If you use words directly from a source, then they must occur within quotation marks (in addition to the citation).
· This argument can be based on the scholarly sources you analyzed in Week 3, but it can also include evidence from other sources you have found (in addition to your own improvements). It is to represent what you take to be the
best argument you have found for this side of the issue.
· Cite sources that support your premises.
Opposing Argument (approximately 200 words)
· Present the best argument on the other side of the issue (same as above, but on the opposite side).
· Develop your argument in standard form, with sources cited to support your statements (as above).
Analysis of the Arguments (approximately 300 words)
· Evaluate the quality of the two arguments given above.
· This can include addressing whether key premises are true (or well supported) and how strongly the conclusion logically follows from them.
· Explain any fallacies, biases, or rhetorical tricks committed by any of them.
· Analyze why one is stronger than the other.
· Justify your position not with opinion but with your analysis of the quality of the arguments.
Presentation of your own argument on the topic (approximately 200 words)
· Construct your own argument on the topic.
· Present your argument in standard form.
· Of course, this argument will be influenced and supported by the research you have done, but this is to be your own argument in your own words supporting your thesis.
· For any premises that are based on research, include a citation of the relevant source (even though the premise is in your own words).
Addressing an objection to your argument (approximately 300 words)
· Present what you would consider to be the best possible objection to your argument (you may address more than one if you prefer).
· Present what you would take to be the best reply to this objection and defense of your argument.
· Cite a scholarly source in this section as well (either in your presentation of the objection or in your response to it).
Conclusion (approximately 150 words)
· Summarize the evidence for all points of view.
· Evaluate how controversial topics should be addressed by critical thinkers
· Must be five to seven double-spaced pages in length (not including title and references) and formatted according to
· Must use at least three scholarly sources
· Must include a separate references page that is formatted according to APA Style
Is Marijuana Use Safe?
Modeled example for the final paper assignment
University of Arizona Global Campus
PHI103 Informal Logic
Dr. Christopher Foster
Due: Day 7 of Week 5
Begin with a title page,
formatted according to
In recent years, most states have voted to legalize marijuana either for medical and/or
recreational use (DISA Global Solutions, 2020). However, federal law still prohibits the use or
sale of marijuana in the United States, and many groups consider marijuana use to be harmful
(National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2019). As more states consider differing degrees of marijuana
legalization (Sanders, 2018), it is important to consider whether marijuana use is safe. This paper
will explore the question of whether current medical research supports the idea that marijuana
use is harmful to human health. It will present a strong argument that marijuana is relatively safe
and a strong argument that it is unacceptably dangerous. This will be followed by a presentation
of my own argument for the conclusion that marijuana use by adults is acceptably safe. After
answering an objection to my argument, the paper will present an analysis of the merits of
reasoning and support provided by each argument.
Argument that Marijuana Use is Safe
There have been many studies that support the conclusion that marijuana use is safe.
Some of their results are summarized in this
Premise 1: A giant meta-study pooled data from many research studies and determined
that marijuana use did not result in significant cognitive impairment in reaction time,
attention, language, executive function, perceptual function, or motor skills in marijuana
users (Grant et al., 2003).
Premise 2: Meta-data showed minor cognitive impairment from long term marijuana only
in the areas of learning and memory, but these were minor and can be minimized (e.g., in
a medical context) (2003).
Premise 3: Marijuana has beneficial uses that outweigh its minor harms (Wetterau, 2015).
A good intro
close with a
preview of what
the paper will
It is good to have clear
showing your instructor
exactly where you
accomplish each of the
main elements of the
by putting it
Though the premises and conclusion of your
argument are in your own words, specific
sources of information need to be cited.
This argument is an
enhancement of the scholarly
argument presented in the
Week 3 paper.
All premises and conclusions
should be one sentence each.
Premise 4: The above dangers do not constitute being substantially medically dangerous.
Conclusion: Marijuana use is not substantially medically dangerous.
Argument that Marijuana Use is Unsafe
On the other hand, many studies have indicated that there are, in fact, many risks
associated with marijuana use. Some of their chief findings are expressed in the following
Premise 1: Marijuana is an addictive substance (Volkow et al., 2014).
Premise 2: Marijuana use causes long term negative effects on physical and mental health
(Feeney & Kampman, 2016).
Premise 3: Marijuana use causes elevated driving risks (Neavyn et al., 2014).
Premise 4: Marijuana use among adolescents is correlated with lower academic
achievement, job performance, and social functioning (Palamar et al., 2014).
Premise 5: It is unsafe to use substances that are addictive and that have many negative
Conclusion: It is unsafe to use Marijuana.
Analysis of the Arguments
As noted, both arguments have premises that are supported by substantial scholarly
research. Both arguments additionally provide strong support for the truth of their conclusions.
Each includes a final premise that links the factual claims made in the previous premises to the
specific language made in the conclusion, resulting in powerful support for each conclusion.
One of the goals of a critical
thinker is to make sure to
understand the reasoning on
all sides of a question as well
as possible. Therefore, it is
essential to present the
strongest reasoning that we
can find/think of in support
of both sides of our question.
much of your
provides a link
points made in
premises to the
Neither is deductively valid, but each is inductively strong and appears to have well-supported
premises. However, their conclusions make opposite points, resulting in an apparent
contradiction. There is a good question, therefore, of how to determine which of these
conclusions is most likely to be true.
One way to explain strong evidence for opposite conclusions is with the possibility of
researcher bias. Authors, even of scholarly studies, frequently put more focus on studies whose
results tend to support the conclusions that they personally support. Furthermore, each study will
focus on factors that strengthen the case for its preferred side. For example, a scholar whose
research supports the use of marijuana might focus on mitigating factors such as the fact that
dosages can be carefully controlled in a medical setting. Researchers on the side of the
opposition, on the other hand, may emphasize that addicted users are likely to use the substance
in doses well beyond those recommended by physicians. Therefore, there are biases, including
confirmation bias, even in scholarly sources.
Both arguments provide well-supported premises and very strong reasoning. Evaluating
which is stronger can be a difficult question. It depends upon the specific application we are
considering. If a teenager is considering recreational marijuana use, the second argument
provides substantial evidence that the demonstrated harms make the choice unacceptably
dangerous. However, if a legislator is contemplating voting for a law to legalize medical
marijuana within a state, the evidence from the first argument is adequate, in my view, to
conclude that use by adults in a medical context is acceptably safe. So relative to the question of
adult use, I determine that the first argument is stronger.
help to clarify
Presentation of My Own Argument
Based on my research and my evaluation of the reasoning that I have found therein, I
now present my own reasoning regarding the safety of marijuana use:
Premise 1: A scholarly study found that use of marijuana by adolescents results in long-
term cognitive impairment (Meier et al., 2012).
Premise 2: A substance whose use results in long-term cognitive impairment when used
by adolescents is not acceptably safe for recreational use by adolescents.
Premise 3: These impairments were not found in those who started smoking marijuana as
adults (Meier et. al, 2012).
Premise 4: Marijuana has only minor harms when used by adults (Grant et al., 2003).
Premise 5: Marijuana has many beneficial medical uses (Ault, 1999).
Premise 6: A substance that has many beneficial medical uses and only minor harms is
acceptably safe for medical use.
Conclusion: Marijuana is not acceptably safe for recreational use by adolescents but is
acceptably safe for medical use by adults.
Response to an Objection to the Argument
Though my argument is backed by substantial research and has premises that entail the
truth of its conclusion, there are still potential objections. One potential objection here is that the
legalization of marijuana for medical use by adults could make it more easily accessible for all,
thereby resulting in more recreational use, including by teens.
Though the premises
and conclusion of your
argument are in your
own words, specific
sources of information
need to be cited.
2 and 6
A response to this objection comes from studies that have investigated this very question.
Though states have different results, the strongest results come from meta-studies, which can
aggregate and analyze the results from many different studies. “A 2018 meta-analysis concluded
that the results from previous studies do not lend support to the hypothesis that MMLs [medical
marijuana laws] increase marijuana use among youth” (Anderson et al., 2019). In fact, some
studies show an actual decline in teen usage after MMLs have been passed, possibly because it
becomes “… more difficult for teenagers to obtain marijuana as drug dealers are replaced by
licensed dispensaries that require proof of age.” Therefore, the risk of increased use by teens
does not seem to be borne out by the scholarly research.
It is my conclusion, therefore, that marijuana use is not safe for adolescents, but that
medical marijuana use by adults is acceptably safe. Though use at a young age can have
deleterious health consequences to mental functioning (Meier et al., 2012), use by adults has
minimal risks and has benefits that render the risks acceptable (Grant et al., 2003).
It is common for people to be wedded to a position and to seek evidence only to support
their side. However, in pursuit of truth, critical thinkers make a point of understanding the best
arguments on all sides of important questions. This allows them to be more informed and also
more fair-minded, open to changing their views to whichever position most aligns with the best
A simple concluding
what has been learned
and reaffirms key
sure to address both
Anderson, M., Hansen, B., Rees, D. I., Sabia, J. (2019). Association of marijuana laws with teen
marijuana use. JAMA Pediatrics 173(9), pp. 879-881.
Ault, A. (1999). Institute of medicine says marijuana has benefits. Lancet 353(9159), p. 1077-
Feeney, K. E., & Kampman, K. M. (2016). Adverse effects of marijuana use. The Linacre
Quarterly, 83(2), 174-178. https://doi.org/10.1080/00243639.2016.1175707
DISA Global Solutions (2020, November 4). Map of marijuana legality by state.
Grant, I., Gonzales, R., Carey, C. L., Natarajan, L., & Wolfson, T. (2003). Non-acute (residual)
neurocognitive effects of cannabis use: A meta-analytic study. Journal of the
International Neuropsychological Society, 9(5), 679-689.
Meier, M., Caspi, A., Ambler, A., Harrington, H., Houts, R. Keefe, R. S. E., McDonald, K.,
Ward, A., Poulton, R., & Moffitt, T. E. (2012). Persistent cannabis users show
neuropsychological decline from childhood to midlife. PNAS, 109(40), pp. E2657-
National Institute on Drug Abuse (2019, December). Marijuana drug facts.
Provide as many references as the
assignment instructions state.
Include an APA formatted
references page with your paper.
Neavyn, M. J., Blohm, E., Babu, K. M., & Bird, S. B. (2014). Medical marijuana and driving: A
review. Journal of Medical Toxicology 10(3), 269-279. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13181-
Palamar, J. J., Fenstermaker, M., Kamboukos, D., Ompad, D. C., Cleland, C. M., & Weitzman,
M. (2014). Adverse psychosocial outcomes associated with drug use among US high
school seniors: A comparison of alcohol and marijuana. American Journal of Drug and
Alcohol Abuse, 40(6), 438-446. https://doi.org/10.3109/00952990.2014.943371
Sanders, L. (2018, January 2). Marijuana legalization 2018: Which states might consider
cannabis laws this year? http://www.newsweek.com/marijuana-legalization-2018-which-
Volkow, N. D., Baler, R. D., Compton, W. M., & Weiss, S. R. B. (2014). Adverse health effects
of marijuana use. New England Journal of Medicine, 370, 2219-2227.
Wetterau, N. (2015). Medical marijuana—Can we do no harm? Family Doctor: A Journal of the
New York State Academy of Family Physicians, 3(3), 16-20.
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