The Basic Elements of Arguments

  1. The Fundamentals of Logic:

    Definition - 'Logic' can be defined as the philosophical study and analysis of arguments.

    What IS an argument?

    Definition - An 'argument' is a set of claims, one of which is meant to be supported by the others.

    1. The Basic Elements of an Argument:

      1. The Premise - why should your assertion should be accepted?

        Definition - a 'premise' is any statement which acts as the reason or evidence to support a conclusion.

        1. Evidence: facts, statistics, data, authoritative opinion.

        2. Appeal: the interpretation of evidence

      2. The Conclusion - the proven form of the thesis, or what follows from, or is supported by the evidence.

        Definition - a 'conclusion' is any statement which is supported by a premise or premises.

        Self defense is a basic human right. - premise
        Therefore, everyone should carry a handgun. - conclusion

    2. The Connection between the Elements: The Inference

      Definition - The logical connection that links a premise and conclusion is an 'inference'.

  2. The Object of an Argument: Persuading Your Audience, Through Reason Alone -

    1. Credibility - why should anyone believe me?

      1. You should be knowledgeable about the subject

      2. You should be of good moral character

      3. You should have good intentions

    2. Establishing Credibility

      1. Do thorough and careful research.

      2. Adopt, as much as possible, an impartial disposition.

      3. Always give a well organized presentation.

  3. How to Recognize an Argument:

    1. An argument is a set of at least two statements one of which (the premise) must logically support the other (the conclusion).

      Definition - a 'statement' is a sentence which is either true or false (i.e., that has a truth-value).

      NOTE: There are many kinds of sentences that are not statements.
      1. advice or warnings
      2. questions
      3. imperatives (i.e., commands)
      4. opinions or beliefs
      5. illustrations and expositions

      Definition - a 'proposition' is the meaningful content of a statement.

    2. Two Kinds of Inferences:

      1. Explicit Inferences - are indicated by signs

        1. Premise Indicators:

          'Since’, 'Because’, 'For’, 'Seeing that’, 'The reason being’, 'is implied’ by, etc.

        2. Conclusion Indicators:

          'So’, 'Thus’, 'Therefore’, 'Hence’, 'Consequently’, 'In conclusion’, etc.

      2. Implicit Inferences - are not indicated by signs

    3. Common Statement Forms:

      1. Conditional - the 'if . . . then’ statement:

        If it's cloudy outside, then it will rain today.

        1. Antecedent - what comes before

        2. Consequent - what comes after

        Necessary condition - If you were not exposed to the influenza virus, you will not get sick.

        Sufficient condition - If you let go of the hammer, it will fall to the ground.

      2. Conjunctive - the 'both . . . and’ statement:

        My pet penguin is a bird, and from Antarctica.

      3. Disjunctive - the 'either . . . or’ statement:

        1. absolute disjunction - one or the other, but not both

          Lucy is either a cat or a dog.

        2. inclusive disjunction - one or both

          Lucy is either a cat or a mammal.

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