Unstated Assumptions of Arguments 2018.docx

Unstated Assumptions of Arguments 2018.docx - Unstated...

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Unstated Assumptions of Arguments page 1 An argument consists of premises (at least one) and a conclusion. You’ve practiced identifying the conclusion and premises in an argument. You’ve seen that many arguments have indicator terms in them, like “because” and “so”, which help in identifying premises and conclusions. The premises and conclusions that you’ve identified have all been explicitly stated in the argument. But arguments can have premises and conclusions that are not explicitly stated. Sometimes they are implicit or unstated . It’s important to be able to identify these as well. An enthymeme is a two-premise argument in which one of the two premises and/or the conclusion is regarded as so obvious that it need not be stated. Here are some examples of enthymemes. Example: All Canadians love maple syrup. Therefore Jon loves maple syrup. This enthymeme has an explicit premise, namely “All Canadians love maple syrup,” and an explicit conclusion, “Jon loves maple syrup”. This argument also has an implicit premise. Can you tell what it is? If you said the implicit premise is “Jon is a Canadian,” you were right. When we read the argument, we get the impression that the person making the argument knows that Jon is a Canadian and is assuming we know it too. This implicit premise allows us to proceed validly from “All Canadians love maple syrup” to “Jon loves maple syrup”. In fact, when this premise is supplied, we can say that it is impossible for the premises to be true and the conclusion false. The premises, if true, guarantee the truth of the conclusion. They prove it with certainty. The full argument would read: All Canadians love maple syrup. Jon is a Canadian. Therefore Jon loves maple syrup. The formerly-implicit premise is shown with green highlighter. Another example: Either I’ve got the best used-car deals in town or my name’s not Jack Chapman. And trust me, my name is Jack Chapman. This enthymeme has two explicit premises but no explicit conclusion. The implicit conclusion, which I hope you agree is obvious, is that “I’ve got the best used-car deals in town.” So the whole argument reads: Either I’ve got the best used-car deals in town or my name’s not Jack Chapman. My name is Jack Chapman. Therefore I’ve got the best used-car deals in town. The formerly-implicit conclusion is shown with green highlighter. Again, the premises, if true, make the conclusion certain. Why wouldn’t one just explicitly state the conclusion? Perhaps the person giving the argument thinks that if you have to come up with it yourself, you will pay more attention to the
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Unstated Assumptions of Arguments page 2 conclusion. This sort of technique is used by advertisers to get you to be more onboard with their sales messages.
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