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A Brief Introduction To Logic and Argumentation

What is an argument? A series of claims, known as „premises,‟ that are arranged to compel agreement with a conclusion.

Two basic ways of criticizing an argument (Keep these in mind): 1) Question the truth of the premises 2) Question that the conclusion follows from the premises

Two basic kinds of arguments:

1) Deductive
a. Strongest kind, when done right they guarantee their conclusion if premises are true.  b. Quality is either/or, black and white, strong or weak, no degrees.  c. Also really hard to do well.

Thankfully.  d. quality is a matter of interpretation. Quality is a matter of degree. never absolutely air-tight (can be absolutely flawed. when done right the best they do is make their conclusion highly likely. Weaker kind.)  c.  b.  . To an extent.Two basic kinds of arguments:  2) Inductive a. easier to do well.

•The fact that premises (1) and (2) are false doesn’t matter. it is invalid. Example of a valid argument:    1) If the moon is made of green cheese then God exists. God exists. 3) Therefore. . otherwise. Validity is a matter of the FORM or STRUCTURE of an argument.Deductive arguments and Validity:   When a deductive argument guarantees that the conclusion follows from the premises it is called valid. 2) The moon is made of green cheese.

 2) A.Deductive arguments and Validity:  Notice the structure of the above argument: 1) If A then B. 3 will always follow from 1 and 2) regardless of what you plug in for A and B.   This structure will ALWAYS be valid.  3) Therefore B. . (that is.

Soundness = valid structure + true premises. then it is a sound argument. A sound argument guarantees the truth of its conclusion because (1) the premises are true and (2) its valid. If a deductive argument has a valid structure AND all of its premises are true. Example of a sound argument:    1) All men are mortal 2) Socrates is a man 3) Therefore Socrates is mortal .Truth and Soundness      But what about truth? In a valid deductive argument true premises will entail a true conclusion.

2) You are in Texas. it may not have a valid structure. 3) Therefore you are in Kingwood. .   Even though all three are true (3) doesn‟t follow from (1) and (2). Consider:    1) If you are in Kingwood. so it is not valid and it is not sound.Truth without Validity  But just because an argument has true premises/ conclusion doesn‟t mean it‟s sound. The conclusion is not guaranteed by the premises. then you are in Texas.

Invalid Structure  Note that the structure of the above argument will ALWAYS be invalid    1) If A then B 2) B 3) Therefore A. not when it goes backward. .  The „If… Then‟ operator only gets you validity when it goes forward (from the first term to the second term).

Inductive Arguments and Inductive Strength:  Four Types of Inductive Arguments: 1) Inductive Generalization  2) Argument from Analogy  3) Inference to the Best Explanation  4) Reductio ad Absurdum  .

Inductive Generalization  In science this is basic hypothesis formulation 1) All/most of the observed Xs have been Y.   Two questions to ask: (a) How representative is the sample?  (b) How reasonable is the conclusion. given the evidence?  .  2) Therefore all/most of Xs are Y.

Argument from analogy 1) X is like Y in certain relevant ways  2) Y has feature Z  3) Therefore X has feature Z  Two questions to ask:  (a) are the „relevant ways‟ really relevant?  (b) are there any relevant dissimilarities?  .

therefore Y over of X. 2) Y explains/accurately predicts A. B & C.) . 3) There isn‟t anything that X explains/accurately predicts that Y doesn‟t. 4) Y doesn‟t make more false predictions than X. plus D. E & F. 5) Y is more simple and graceful than X. B & C.Inference to the best explanation       1) X explains/accurately predicts A. (Occam‟s razor) 6) Therefore Y (or rather.

D.Inference to the best explanation  Two questions to ask: (a) Are there any other alternatives besides X and Y?  (b) How. B. C. exactly. E and F?  . does Y explain/predict A.

Reductio ad absurdum  Can be deductive or inductive:     1) Assume P for the sake of argument 2) If P. false. etc? .) 4) Therefore not P  Two questions to ask:   (a) Does Q really follow from P? (b) Is Q really absurd. then Q 3) But clearly ~Q (Q is absurd/false/unacceptable. unacceptable. etc.

ergo propter hoc) . Examples:          Begging the question Appeal to authority Equivocation False analogy False dilemma Ad hominem Straw Man Arguments from ignorance Correlative fallacy (post hoc.A Few Common Fallacies:   Fallacies are common errors in reasoning.

 2) An honest man doesn‟t lie.Begging the question:  Assuming the very thing you‟re trying to prove.  . 1) George says he‟s an honest man. smuggling the conclusion into the premises.  3) Therefore. I can trust George when he says he‟s an honest man. Also called circular reasoning.

Frequently we don‟t have the time to investigate the evidence for an argument ourselves. . Experts can establish the truth of certain premises. but whether or not the conclusion follows is an open question.  1) Tom says global warming is real.Appeal to Authority    No substantive argument can ever be settled by simply invoking an expert. so we have no choice but to (provisionally) accept the appeal to authority.

 3) Therefore my money is in a slope of land adjacent to a river.  .  2) A bank is the slope of land adjacent to a river. 1) My money is in a bank.Equivocation  Changing the meaning of a term in the middle of an argument.

 1) Women are like tornados: they tear your life apart when they enter it and take your stuff with them when they leave.False Analogy  A failed argument from analogy. but instead are only superficially or apparently similar. – 3) Therefore. an argument that analogizes two things which are not relevantly similar. women are meteorological . – 2) Tornados are meteorological phenomena.

” .False Dilemma  Presents only two alternatives for consideration when other alternatives exist.  “Either you‟re with us or you‟re with the terrorists.

it‟s only inappropriate as a rebuttal to an ARGUMENT.Ad hominem:  Attacking the person making the argument. you‟re bleeding heart liberal!) But other times it can be more subtle (Plato only rejected democracy because he grew up in Hellenic Greece.)  Important to note: ad hominem CAN be a legitimate response when we‟re being asked to believe a CLAIM.   Sometimes this can be vicious (of course you‟d think that. rather than the argument itself. .

This is absurd. 2) This entails that animals should have the right to vote.Straw Man:  Mischaracterizing an opponent‟s position/ argument so that it can be easily rebutted. .  The converse of this is the principle of charity: always make your opponents arguments as strong as you can before trying to rebut them. animals shouldn‟t have equal rights with humans.    1) X thinks animals should have equal rights with humans. 3) Therefore X is wrong.

Note.) It depends if we‟ve „looked‟ in the right places. .-Even though there is no proof Aliens exist. but this DOES seem to count as evidence that they DON‟T exist (if there were any unicorns.E. I.Arguments from ignorance:     Assuming the lack of evidence FOR something constitutes evidence AGAINST something. sometimes this isn‟t a fallacy: There‟s no proof Unicorns exist. this doesn‟t count as proof that they DON‟T exist. we would have found evidence.

but the correlation alone does little to prove this or make it plausible. divorce rate and teen pregnancy rate have all drastically increased since 1962.  The conclusion MIGHT be true.    1) The Supreme Court outlawed prayer in public schools in 1962 2) The crime rate. 3) Therefore the lack of prayer in public schools has been detrimental to society. .Correlative fallacy:  Assuming a correlation is a cause.

Pirates cause Global Warming .

It‟s time to play Name That Fallacy!!!!  How many fallacies can YOU spot in this clip? .