1.2 Recognizing Arguments


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Course lecture I developed over section 1.2 of Patrick Hurley\'s "A Concise Introduction to Logic".

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  • 1.2 Recognizing Arguments

    1. 1. 1.2 Recognizing Arguments
    2. 2. Overview <ul><li>Identifying arguments from non-arguments </li></ul><ul><li>Analyzing inferential claims </li></ul><ul><li>Identifying different types of non-inferential passages (non-arguments). </li></ul>
    3. 3. How do we recognize arguments? <ul><li>In order to be an argument, a passage must set out to prove something. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Requirements for proving something: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>1) At least one statement must claim to present evidence or reasons. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>2) There must be a claim that something follows from the evidence, that the evidence implies something. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>---Essentially, an argument must have at least one statement that acts as a premise, and there must be a claim that implies a conclusion. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The evidence doesn’t have to be real, truthful, nor do the premises need to support the conclusion, but the claim itself must be present. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>These factors influence whether an argument is good or bad, but they don’t change the fact that it is an argument. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>It isn’t enough for a claim to be present; that claim has to go along with some kind of evidence in support of something. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Statements + Claim = Argument </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>(Premises) (Conclusion) </li></ul></ul>
    4. 4. Factual and inferential claims <ul><li>Factual claims are those expressed by the first condition, but their focus lies on things outside the field of logic. </li></ul><ul><li>Our focus will mainly deal with inferential claims, which are reflected by the second condition. They claim that a passage expresses a certain reasoning process: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>One thing implies or lends support to another, or that something follows from something. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Inferential claims can be either “explicit” or “implicit”. </li></ul></ul>
    5. 5. Types of Inferential Claims <ul><li>Explicit inferential claims </li></ul><ul><ul><li>An implied relationship between statements that is recognizable by the use of indicator words (premise or conclusion). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Example: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ Mad cow disease is spread by feeding parts of infected animals to cows, and this practice has yet to be completely eradicated. Thus , mad cow disease continues to pose a threat to people who eat beef” (Page 14). </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Thus – A conclusion indicator. </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Implicit inferential claims </li></ul><ul><ul><li>There must be an implied relationship between statements in a passage, though there are no indicator words used. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Example: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ The genetic modification of food is risky business. Genetic engineering can introduce unintended changes into the DNA of the food-producing organism, and these changes can be toxic to the consumer” (Page 14). </li></ul></ul></ul>
    6. 6. Caution when referring to indicator words <ul><li>Be aware that sometimes indicator words do not guarantee an argument, if they’re used in a different way. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Example: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ Since Edison invented the phonograph, there have been many technological developments”. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ Since Edison invented the phonograph, he deserves credit for a major technological development”. (Page 15) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The word “since” on the top is used in reference to how much time has passed. The “since” on the bottom functions the same way as the word “because” and works the same way as a premise indicator word. </li></ul></ul>
    7. 7. Non-inferential passages, (or non-arguments) <ul><li>These are passages in which there is no claim that something is being proved. </li></ul><ul><li>They contain statements that could pass for premises or conclusions, or even both, but they’re not. </li></ul><ul><li>There’s no claim that a premise might support a conclusion, or that a conclusion is supported by a premise. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>No premises  conclusion, and no conclusion  premises </li></ul></ul>
    8. 8. Types of non-inferential passages <ul><li>Warnings </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A form of expression that is intended to put someone on guard against a dangerous or detrimental situation. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Examples: </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>It’s raining out so you’ll get wet if you leave. </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>If you eat too much then you’ll get a stomachache. </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>No evidence is given to support these statements so there’s no argument. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Piece of advice </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Form of expression that makes a recommending about future decisions or behavior. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Examples: </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>When you go to a job interview, be sure to dress neatly and be on time. Be sure to shake your employer’s hand and look him square in the eye. Try to show him you’re interested and you really want the job. </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Again here, there is no evidence trying to prove something, so there’s no argument. </li></ul></ul></ul>
    9. 9. Types of non-inferential passages, cont. <ul><li>Statement of belief (opinions) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Expression about what someone believes or thinks about something. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Example: </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>I think that going through life with a negative attitude is a waste of time. I’d prefer to look at things with a fresher perspective. </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The author is making claims here but offers no evidence to support them, so they don’t qualify as arguments. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Loosely associated statements </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Statements that may be about a similar subject but they lack a claim that one is proved by the other. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Example: </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>You should always stand when a lady enters the room. Never burp at the dinner table. Chew with your mouth closed. </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The statements all have to do with dinner etiquette but they don’t offer any support for one another, so they’re not arguments. </li></ul></ul></ul>
    10. 10. More types of non-inferential passages <ul><li>Reports </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Groups of statements that convey information about some topic or event. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Example: </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ Even though more of the world is immunized than ever before, many old diseases have proven resilient in the face of changing populations and environmental conditions, especially in the developing world. New diseases, such as AIDS, have taken their toll in both the North and the South” (Page 16). </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>These statements could act as premises but they make no claims in support of something else, so they don’t qualify as arguments. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Expository Passages </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Begins with a topic sentence and is followed by one or more sentences that build upon the first one. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Example: </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ There are three familiar states of matter: solid, liquid, and gas. Solid objects ordinarily maintain their shape and volume regardless of their location. A liquid occupies a definite volume, but assumes the shape of the occupied portion of its container. A gas maintains neither shape nor volume. It expands to fill completely whatever container it is in” (Page 17). </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The first sentence introduces the passage and the rest of the paragraph expands on that sentence, but it doesn’t try to justify anything, so there’s no argument. </li></ul></ul></ul>
    11. 11. Illustrations <ul><li>Statement which refers to something else in order to explain something or to show how it’s done. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Examples: Recipes, instruction manuals, etc. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>They may use indicator words but they don’t actually try to prove anything, so they’re not arguments. </li></ul><ul><li>Some illustrations are taken as arguments; these are called…. </li></ul><ul><li>Arguments from example </li></ul><ul><ul><li>These arguments illustrate a process but they do it to prove a point. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ Although most forms of cancer, if untreated, can cause death, not all cancers are life-threatening. For example, basal cell carcinoma, the most common of all skin cancers, can produce disfigurement, but it almost never results in death” (Page 18). </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>This passage illustrates the effects of skin cancer, but the point of the explanation is to show that not all cancers are life-threatening so they work as arguments. </li></ul></ul></ul>
    12. 12. Explanations <ul><li>Group of statements that try to shed light on an event or an occurrence. These occurrences are usually things that are commonly accepted. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Examples: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ The Columbia spacecraft disintegrated on reentry because its wing was damaged by flying foam debris during liftoff.” </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ The sky appears blue from the earth’s surface because light rays from the sun are scattered by particles in the atmosphere” (Page 19). </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Two different parts of an explanation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Explanandum </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The statement that describes the event or occurrence. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Explanans </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Statement or group of statements that do the explaining. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ The Columbia spacecraft disintegrated on reentry because its wing was damaged by flying foam debris during liftoff .” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ The sky appears blue from the earth’s surface because light rays from the sun are scattered by particles in the atmosphere ” (Page 19). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The explanandums for these two examples are bolded, and the explanans are underlined. </li></ul></ul>
    13. 13. Conditional statements <ul><li>If-then statements. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Example: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ If professional football games incite violence in the home, then the widespread approval given to this sport would be reconsidered” (Page 20). </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ If Lance Armstrong has won the Tour de France six consecutive times, then he ranks as king of the hill in the world’s most famous bicycle race. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Two parts of a conditional statement </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Antecedent </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The part after “if” but before “then”. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Consequent </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The part after “then”. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>If (antecedent) then (consequent). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Or sometimes it is seen as: (consequent) if (antecedent) and the word “then” is left out entirely. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Example: </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>I will stop bugging you if you’ll go out with me tonight. </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Conditional statements only say that if the antecedent is true, then the consequent has to be true. On their own, they don’t make up arguments since there is no claim in them that says they are true. Conditional statements only say that if one is true then the other is also true. </li></ul>
    14. 14. Turning conditional statements into arguments <ul><li>It is possible to turn a conditional statement into an argument if you change the way it is formed. </li></ul><ul><li>Taking the antecedent (the first part) of a conditional statement and saying it is true will make it into an argument, since the statement now has premises and a conclusion. </li></ul><ul><li>Conditional statement – “If Arnold Schwarzenegger was born a citizen of Austria, then he cannot be elected president of the United States”. </li></ul><ul><li>Argument form – Arnold Schwarzenegger was born a citizen of Austria. Therefore, he cannot be elected president of the United States. </li></ul>
    15. 15. Relation between conditional statements and arguments <ul><li>Three major points </li></ul><ul><ul><li>1) A single conditional statement does not make up an argument. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>2) A conditional statement may serve as either the premise or the conclusion (or both) of an argument. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>3) The content of a conditional statement can be reframed to form an argument. </li></ul></ul>
    16. 16. Necessary and sufficient conditions <ul><li>Say we have two events: A & B </li></ul><ul><ul><li>If A is a necessary condition for B, then A has to be satisfied before B can ever occur. So having A makes it possible to have B, but it isn’t enough by itself to trigger B. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>If A is a sufficient condition for B, then having A is all you need to trigger B. A is enough to trigger B but it isn’t required in order for B to be possible. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Example: Being a human is sufficient for being a mammal. But being a mammal is necessary before you can be a human. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Example: Having gas in your car is necessary to driving but it isn’t enough to actually get you on the road. A sufficient condition for driving would be to put the key into the ignition, but without gas then driving won’t happen. </li></ul></ul></ul>