When we analyze an argument, we need to first separate the



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  • An argument consists of a conclusion (the claim that the speaker or writer is arguing for) and premises (the claims that he or she offers in support of the conclusion). Here is an example of an argument:
    • [Premise] Every officer on the force has been certified, and [premise] nobody can be certified without scoring above 70 percent on the firing range. Therefore [conclusion] every officer on the force must have scored above 70 percent on the firing range.

When we analyze an argument, we need to first separate the conclusion from the grounds for the conclusion which are called premises. Stating it another way, in arguments we need to distinguish the claim that is being made from the warrants that are offered for it. The claim is the position that is maintained, while the warrants are the reasons given to justify the claim.

  • When we analyze an argument, we need to first separate the conclusion from the grounds for the conclusion which are called premises. Stating it another way, in arguments we need to distinguish the claim that is being made from the warrants that are offered for it. The claim is the position that is maintained, while the warrants are the reasons given to justify the claim.
  • It is sometimes difficult to make this distinction, but it is important to see the difference between a conclusion and a premise, a claim and its warrant, differentiating between what is claimed and the basis for claiming it.
  • The Structure of Argument: Conclusions and Premises

We might make a claim in a formal argument. For example, we might claim that teenage pregnancy can be reduced through sex education in the schools.

  • We might make a claim in a formal argument. For example, we might claim that teenage pregnancy can be reduced through sex education in the schools.
  • To justify our claim we might try to show the number of pregnancies in a school before and after sex education classes.
  • In writing an argumentative essay we must decide on the point we want to make and the reasons we will offer to prove it, the conclusion and the premises.

The same distinction must be made in reading argumentative essays, namely, what is the writer claiming and the warrant is offered for the claim, what is being asserted and why. Take the following complete argument:

  • The same distinction must be made in reading argumentative essays, namely, what is the writer claiming and the warrant is offered for the claim, what is being asserted and why. Take the following complete argument:
    • Television presents a continuous display of violence in graphically explicit and extreme forms. It also depicts sexuality not as a physical expression of internal love but in its most lewd and obscene manifestations. We must conclude, therefore, that television contributes to the moral corruption of individuals exposed to it.

Whether we agree with this position or not, we must first identify the logic of the argument to test its soundness. In this example the conclusion is “television contributes to the moral corruption of individuals exposed to it.” The premises appear in the beginning sentences: “Television presents a continuous display of violence in graphic and extreme forms,” and “(television) depicts sexuality…in its most lewd and obscene manifestations.” Once we have separated the premises and the claim then we need to evaluate whether the case has been made for the conclusion.

  • Whether we agree with this position or not, we must first identify the logic of the argument to test its soundness. In this example the conclusion is “television contributes to the moral corruption of individuals exposed to it.” The premises appear in the beginning sentences: “Television presents a continuous display of violence in graphic and extreme forms,” and “(television) depicts sexuality…in its most lewd and obscene manifestations.” Once we have separated the premises and the claim then we need to evaluate whether the case has been made for the conclusion.

Has the writer shown that television does corrupt society? Has a causal link been shown between the depiction of lewd and obscene sex and the moral corruption of society? Does TV reflect violence in our society or does it promote it?

  • Has the writer shown that television does corrupt society? Has a causal link been shown between the depiction of lewd and obscene sex and the moral corruption of society? Does TV reflect violence in our society or does it promote it?

Consequently

  • Consequently
  • Therefore
  • Thus
  • So
  • Hence
  • accordingly
  • We can conclude that
  • It follows that
  • We may infer that
  • This means that
  • It leads us to believe that
  • This bears out the point that
  • Since dissection is sometimes difficult because we cannot always see the skeleton of the argument. In such cases we can find help by looking for “indicator” words. When the words in the following list are used in arguments, they usually indicate a premise has just been offered and that a conclusion is about to be presented.

Example:

  • Example:
    • Sarah drives a Dodge Viper. This means that either she is rich or her parents are.
  • The conclusion is:
    • Either she is rich or her parents are.
  • The premise is:
    • Sarah drives a Dodge Viper.

Since

  • Since
  • Because
  • For
  • whereas
  • When the words in the following list are used in arguments, they generally introduce premises. They often occur just after a conclusion has been given.

Example:

  • Example:
    • Either Sarah is rich or her parents are, since she drives a Dodge Viper.
  • The premise is the claim that Sarah drives a Dodge Viper; the conclusion is the claim that either Sarah is rich or her parents are.


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