Answer the following questions (Part 1) and complete the reasoning structure and analysis for the paragraph that follows (Part 2).


Part 1 (10 points)

  1. Why are dictionary definitions of key terms and phrases used in an argument often not sufficiently helpful in determining their meaning?
  2. ARQ (Asking the Right Questions textbook) stresses that not all ambiguous terms or phrases are equally important. How do you determine which ones are the most important to identify?
  3. What is the relationship between ambiguity and definitional assumptions?
  4. Are there any terms used by the authors of ARQ that are importantly ambiguous? Explain.
  5. Why might it be useful for communicators to intentionally use words in an ambiguous fashion?


Part 2: (5 points)

Read the following paragraph:


When governmental bodies make purchases, they often try to improve the efficiency of their purchasing activities by requiring potential sellers to submit bids. The defense department is one of the governmental agencies that claim to engage in this type of competitive bidding process. They supposedly examine the submitted bids and choose the best bid, awarding the contract to the private firm who makes that bid.

Yet, apparently, the defense department does not abide by its own rules. The contractor I represent made the best bid for a missile system and failed to receive the contract for the system. We are understandably disappointed and are requesting a reversal of the contract award to a firm that submitted a better bid.

Provide the following information:

  1. Issue:
  2. Conclusion:
  3. Reasons:
  4. Ambiguous words and/or phrases:
  5. Analysis (what words are ambiguous and why do they weaken the argument?):


What Words or Phrases Are Ambiguous?