Phil 100

Handout 6

How to EEE,

or How Perform an "Extracto" on a Piece of Text


To perform an "Extracto" on a piece of text (i.e., to "EEE") is to Extract an argument from the text and then to Explain and Evaluate the argument you have extracted.



To extract an argument from a piece of text is to write down a valid, line-by-line formulation of an argument that is contained implicitly in the text.

Here's how to do it:

1. Carefully read the entire passage that contains the argument. Then reread it.

2. Figure out what the conclusion of the argument is. To do this, try to figure out the main point the author is trying to convince you of in the passage. This main point is usually the conclusion of the argument.

3. Write down the conclusion. Instead of using exactly the words the author uses, restate the conclusion in clear, literal, deflated terminology.

4. Figure out what the premises of the argument are-the premises from which the conclusion is derived in the passage. Then write them down. In many cases, the author doesn't explicitly state each premise-a premise may be "suppressed." So you have to "read between the lines." You often have to add a premise to make the argument valid.

5. Double-check the argument you have written down to be sure that it is valid and that it is indeed the argument the author is making.



To explain an argument you have extracted, do just what you would do on the 'Explain' step of a PEE, except that when you get to the part where you have to give the rationale, don't give your own rationale; instead, give the rational the author gives (or implies) in the passage. That is, for each premise, you are to give the reason why the author thinks it is true.



[Same as in PEE-ing an argument. If you are asked to EEE* an argument, the evaluate step is the same as in PEE*-ing an argument.]


Common Mistakes when Doing Extractos

1. Failing to locate the correct conclusion.

2. Failing to deflate.  The lines must be restated in simple, literal terminology.

3. Insertion of sleeping partners (extra lines that play no role in the derivation of the conclusion).

4. Failure to put in a valid form.  Extractors simply have to learn MP, MT, MMP, etc.

5. Failure to explain line-by-line.  When providing rationales, don't do it for the whole argument in one fell swoop.  Explain each line individually, one line at a time.

6. Failure to evaluate properly.  In some cases, I will insist that you pick some line to criticize.  Often, one of the premises is pretty clearly false (or blatantly question-begging).  I take off points if the extractor simply claims in such a case that the argument is sound.