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 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 

APA Style

· 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

John Smith

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
APA standards

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
paragraph should
close with a
preview of what
the paper will

It is good to have clear
section headings,
showing your instructor
exactly where you
accomplish each of the
main elements of the
assignment instructions.

The clearest
way to
express an
argument is
by putting it
form, with
labeled and
listed above

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
research in
your own

This premise
provides a link
from the
points made in
the first
premises to the
language of
the conclusion.


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.

examples can
help to clarify
and strengthen
key points.

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
paragraph summarizes
what has been learned
and reaffirms key
conclusions. Make
sure to address both
bullet points.


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-

1077. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(05)76443-6

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-

E2664. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1206820109

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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