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  • 1. Chapter Two Nuts and Bolts: The Basics of Argument Second Thoughts, 4 th ed. Wanda Teays McGraw-Hill Higher Ed. © 2010.Wanda Teays.All rights reserved.
  • 2.
    • There are two components to an argument:
    • (1) the thesis (conclusion) and
    • (2) the evidence (premises).
    • An author’s thesis (conclusion) rests on a set of reasons offered as support. These reasons are called premises .
    • An argument consists of only one conclusion and at least one premise
    • If the same set of evidence is used to support two propositions, treat it as two separate arguments and analyze each one separately.
    • Cutting a pet bird’s wings limits or eliminates the bird’s ability to fly.
    • Birds that can’t fly are like guinea pigs with feathers.
    • Only someone who is cruel would turn the bird into the equivalent of a guinea pig.
    • Therefore, cutting a pet bird’s wings is cruel .
  • 3.
    • When we describe , we try to objectively state a set of facts —-the essential features of the thing by listing its qualities or characteristics.
    • An inference is a conclusion drawn on the basis of some evidence or observations.
    • An inference answers the question, “ What's it about? What story does this tell? ”
    • Descriptions , like a set of facts, are statements about what is or is not the case.
    • Generally, each item in a description is verifiable by examination.
    • We describe a friend by giving her height, weight, eye color, hair color and style, etc.
    • An inference would be when someone says, “He’s tall, thin, and a real hunk!”
  • 4.
    • A description is an attempt to state what is the case, e.g., in terms of physical characteristics or appearance.
    • An inference is a conclusion drawn on the basis of a description or other sorts of evidence.
    • People regularly conclude one thing or another on the basis of what they see or hear. They are drawing inferences .
    • An inference is the same as a conclusion.
    • Sometimes the inferences we draw are well founded. Sometimes they are not.
  • 5.
    • FACTS:
    • Facts are things or events known to be true (as that which can be empirically verified) and concepts that can be proven true, as in science and mathematics.
    • Facts are actually the case, known by observation or authentic testimony.
    • OPINIONS fall into 3 categories:
    • 1. Statements of belief or conjecture
    • 2. Reasoned speculation
    • 3. Legal opinion (usually expressed as court rulings).
    • IDEAS AND HYPOTHESES : Ideas take the form of possible solutions, hypotheses, intentions, plans of action, and theories. Think of a general or ideal form, pattern, vision, or standard.
    • Not all ideas are good, but “brainstorming” could lead to a major breakthrough.
    • That’s why problem-solving sessions often start with generating ideas freely, quickly, and without editing, judgment or criticism.
  • 6.
    • Arguments are all around us—they consist of propositions (at least one of which is offered as evidence for another, the conclusion).
    • A PROPOSITION is an assertion that predicates some characteristic of the subject. It is true or false.
    • “ All zoo animals are creatures fond of looking at people.” The subject is “zoo animals.”
    • The predicate is “creatures that are fond of looking at people.”
    • AN ARGUMENT consists of:
    • The conclusion (= thesis) and
    • At least one premise (=support, evidence)
    • The first step in dismantling an argument is to locate the conclusion (thesis).
    • Once the conclusion is clear, we can see how the argument is structured.
    • An assumption is something taken for granted or supposed to be the case without proof.
    • Assumptions are often unstated.
  • 7.
    • Assumptions shape how we see the world and how we think.
    • If there is evidence to support the assumption, it is warranted and, if not, it is unwarranted .
    • One of our tasks is to recognize and make explicit any assumptions.
    • We can then decide whether or not they rest on solid footing (i.e., are warranted ) or whether they are questionable or without merit (i.e., are unwarranted ).
    • .
  • 8.
      • Locate the conclusion (author’s thesis).
      • Set out the premises.
      • The premises should provide a clear link to the conclusion.
      • Watch for omissions and questionable claims.
      • See how the evidence supports the conclusion—the premises should supply strong support.
      • Note strengths and weaknesses in the reasoning.
      • If the argument is not convincing, find the weaknesses in the reasoning.
      • Watch for questionable or unwarranted assumptions
  • 9.
    • Steps to put an argument
    • in standard form:
    • List all the premises one by one,
    • Number them P1, P2, P3, etc.
    • Stack them like pancakes.
    • Draw a line under the last line
    • of the premises.
    • List the conclusion (C)
    • John went to see the Lakers play. But he forgot his to wear his lucky socks. The Lakers lost. Therefore, John’s not wearing the socks caused the Lakers to lose.
    • Here it is in standard form:
    • P1: John went to see the Lakers play.
    • P2 : He forgot his to wear his lucky socks.
    • P3 : The Lakers lost.
    • C: Therefore, John’s not wearing the socks caused the Lakers to lose.
  • 10.
    • A premise-indicator is a word or phrase that introduces a premise in an argument.
    • Because…
    • Since*
    • In light of…
    • Whereas….
    • Given that…
    • For the reason that…
    • For…
    • The reason why [conclusion] is….
    • CONCLUSION-INDICATORS A conclusion-indicator is a word or phrase that introduces a conclusion in an argument.
    • Therefore… Accordingly…
    • As a result…
    • So…
    • Consequently…
    • Hence…
    • It follows that…
    • Subsequently…
    • Thus…
  • 11.
    • Transition words indicate an introduction, amplification, clarification, emphasis, illustration, or contrast.
    • They do not function as premise- or conclusion-indicators, unless clearly shown in the context —e.g., when a list of premises or several conclusions are listed in sequence.
    • Transition words could be located anywhere—in premises, in conclusions, or in a sentence not part of an argument .
  • 12.
    • Introduction: In order to, Primarily, The first reason, Initially,
    • In the first place, To begin, In general
    • Amplification: Moreover, Furthermore, In addition, Provided that,
    • Similarly, Also, Likewise, First, second, third,
    • Clarification: That is, To restate, In other words, In simpler terms,
    • Briefly, To repeat, To put it in another light,
    • To put it differently, As seen by
    • Emphasis: In fact, Notably, Nonetheless, Nevertheless, In effect,
    • Above all, Indeed, And rightly so, As such
    • Illustration: To illustrate, For example, For instance, Specifically,
    • Namely, A case in point
    • Contrast: However, Alternatively, On the other hand, Notwithstanding,
    • In opposition to, And yet, Conversely, At
    • the same time, In spite of, Despite
  • 13.
    • State the conclusion (thesis/hypothesis). This gives us a sense of where we're headed. If you don't know the conclusion, you cannot analyze an argument.
    • List the premises (reasons/evidence) one by one.
    • Examine the premises to see if they are sufficient to support the conclusion. Look for any holes, such as missing premises, unwarranted assumptions, biased language, or fallacious reasoning. 
    • Listing the premises one by one (P1, P2, P3, etc.) above the conclusion provides order to the argument and makes it easier to read.
    • You then have the premises and conclusion clearly set out, so you can examine the relationship between them; and you are less likely to overlook a piece of evidence.