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What are good arguments?

Good arguments are the medium through which we plan, explain, persuade, convince, show, demonstrate and prove things successfully through language.


What are the two parts of an argument?

  1. Premises, evidence, assumptions
  2. Conclusion, claim, inference


What are some characteristics of arguments?

  1. A passage may contain more than one argument
  2. Every argument can be expressed in the form of a single conditional declarative sentence
  3. An argument has exactly one conclusion and it may occur anywhere within a passage
  4. Some conclusions are implied rather than stated explicitly
  5. Every premise is an explicit or implicit assumption
  6. Not every statement in a passage needs to be either a premise or the conclusion
  7. A statement is a premise or a conclusion only in relation to other statements within a particular argument


What are indicators?

Something that signals the presence of something else.

  1. Premise Indicators
    • Because

    • Since

    • Let us suppose that

    • As indicated by

    • First, …

  2. Claim Indicators

    • Hence

    • I conclude that

    • For these reasons

    • In consequence


What are some characteristics of premises?

  • Every premise is an explicit or implicit assumption
    • Assumptions or suppositions are component of every argument
      • ​An implicit assumption is a presupposition
        • ASK: What is being assumed in order to show that the claim is true?


What is to evaluate an argument?

To evaluate an argument is to critically examine the relation between its evidence and its claim, assessing whether the principles of good reasoning are violated.

For an argument to be good in the fullest sense it must accord with all of the principles of good reasoning, not just to one.


What is the cardinal principle of good reasoning?

The truth of a claim needs to follow from the truth of its evidence.


What is a cogent argument?

An argument that accords with all the principles of good reasoning.


What is a fallacy?

An error in reasoning.


What is a fallacious argument?

An argument that violates a principle of good reasoning.


What is the RIFUT rule?

An mneumonic device that embodies all of the principles of good reasoning that applies to arguments. If it violates any of these, the argument is fallacious.


Name the parts of the RIFUT rule

  • Relevant to the claim logically

  • Independent of the claim

  • Free of dubious assumptions

  • Unambiguous, and

  • True


Explain the T (Step 2)

  • Are the premises True?
  • Is it consistent? Can they all be true at the same time?
    • If not, they are contradicting


Explain the I (Step 3)

  • You can’t have among your premises a premise that restates the conclusion of the argument, this would be circular reasoning, or "begging the question."
    • you need to show that your conclusion is true.


Explain the U (Step 4)

The ambiguous premise is that one which in some points consist of obscure words, misleading idioms, perplexing sentences and/or words whose meaning shift over the course of the argument.


What is one Fallacy of Ambiguity?

  • The Fallacy of Equivocation
    • Two different meanings of one word are used in the argument.


Explain the F (Step 5)

You can’t be free of assumptions in a premise, but you should be free of dubious assumptions

  • This is an assumption that is both unproven and unreasonable.


What are some Fallacies of Presumption?

  1. Fallacy of Composition
  2. Fallacy of Division
  3. Fallacy of False Dilemma (black-and-white fallacy)


Explain the Fallacy of Composition

Occurs when one assumes that because every part of a whole (or every member of a class) has such-and-such attribute, the whole itself (or the class itself) must have that attribute too


Explain the Fallacy of Division

When one assumes that what is true of the whole must be true of the parts.


Explain the Fallacy of False Dilemma

When someone oversimplifies a complex issue by assuming that there are only two (or a few) sides to it, and then demands that the audience choose between these limited alternatives.


Explain the R (Step 6)

Does the argument commit a non sequitur?

  • Occurs when the evidence is not logically relevant to the truth of a claim.


What are some Fallacies of Relevance?

  1. Ad Hominem (to the person)
  2. Ad Populum (to the people)
  3. Appeal to ignorance (Argumentum ad ignorantiam)
  4. Appeal to inappropriate authority
  5. Genetic fallacy
  6. Straw man
  7. Slippery slope
  8. Irrelevant conclusion (ignoratio elenchi)


Explain the Ad Hominem Fallacy

When a person attacks another in order to show that what the other person said is wrong, false, or should not be taken seriously.


Explain the Ad Populum Fallacy

  • When one directs an appeal to the people in order to win their assent to a conclusion unsupported by evidence
  • Whipping the emotions of the audience
  • Truth is not determined by head count


Explain the Appeal to Ignorance Fallacy (argumentum ad ignorantiam)

When one argues either that a claim is true because it has not been proved to be false, or that a claim is false because it has not been proven to be true.


Explain the Fallacy of Appeal to Inappropriate Authority

When one appeals to the testimony of an expert in matter outside the domain of that authority’s special field

  • This is different than just reporting what someone says


Explain the Genetic Fallacy

Whenever someone assesses the value of something (good or bad) on the basis of its origins.


Explain the Straw Man Fallacy

Attacking a misrepresentation or exaggeration of your adversary's actual position.


Explain the Slippery Slope Fallacy

When one falsely claims that adopting a particular view or course of action will result in inevitable and undesirable consequences.