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Arguments - Introduction to Arguments What an argument is...

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Introduction to Arguments What an argument is An argument consists of a set of premises that gives us reason to believe that a conclusion is true. 1. Socrates is a man. Premises (1, 2) 2. All men are mortal. give us reason to believe that 3. Socrates is mortal. the Conclusion (3) is true. What is above the line (1 and 2) are the premise(s). What is below the line (3) is the conclusion. The premises are the reasons for believing the conclusion is true. What an argument is not The word ‘argument’ it is often used in English to include: a. A firmly stated opinion His argument is that Smith should be in the Hall of Fame. His argument is that Bush is a great president. b. A firmly stated fact My argument is that we’re in Florida. Her argument is that the moon orbits the Earth. c. A firmly stated falsehood His argument is that Elvis lives. d. A shouting match They had a huge argument last night! These are perfectly legitimate uses of the term ‘argument’. But none of these are ARGUMENTS as philosophers use the term. Threats & Bribes A threat: Believe this or I’ll fire you! A bribe: Believe this and I’ll give you lots of money! A bad argument about arguments : “Threats and bribes are arguments because they give you reason to believe something. And that’s what arguments do. The “Socrates” argument gives you reason to believe that Socrates is mortal.” The difference between arguments and threats / bribes: Arguments give you reason to believe something is true . Threats and bribes give you a reason – in the sense of a motive or incentive – to believe something. 1. Socrates is a man. Premises (1, 2) 2. All men are mortal. give us reason to believe that 3. Socrates is mortal. the Conclusion (3) is true.
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1. If you don’t believe I’m great, I’ll flunk you. The reasons (1, 2) 2. You don’t want me to flunk you. don’t give you any reason to believe 3. I’m great. that (3) is true . They do give you a MOTIVE to believe (3). How to identify arguments Look for a CONCLUSION first: Is there a thesis that the passage is attempting to convince you of? Look for PREMISES: Are there reasons given for the conclusion? Reasons for thinking that the conclusion IS TRUE ? Argument Identification Problems : Which are arguments? Which are not? EXPLAIN! If the moon is made of green cheese, then there are mice on the moon. The moon is made of green cheese. Therefore, there are mice on the moon. I solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Raspberry Surprise Ice Cream has big chunks of real fruit! What a combination! Rich ice cream with delicious fruit; it’s my all-time favorite ice cream.
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