Monday, 26 August 2013

Critical Thinking 2: Features of an Argument

Higher Philosophy Podcast
Critical Thinking: Features of an Argument

This is available as an MP3 or to download as a podcast through iTunes
for Desktop and Apple devices, as well as PodcastHD for Android Devices.

An argument is a connected series of propositions that naturally, and logically, lead the viewer to a conclusion.  At this point it’s worth noting that it is important to distinguish between everyday language and philosophical language.  Arguments are not two people going at it over woman’s rights; an argument has a purpose – to put forward a conclusion.  There are three main features of an argument:

  • An argument is composed of statements.  This is why it was important to identify all of the statements so that we may reconstruct the argument.  If it’s not a statement it has no place in an argument.
  •  The purpose of an argument is to prove or refute a claim.  An argument is a connected series of statements intended to establish the truth of a proposition.
  • An argument cannot be true or false – only statements can be.  Although an argument is composed of statements the whole argument itself cannot be true or false.  If we consider the initial argument in its entirety it should be clear that it is a collection of statements, questions, commands, and expressions that in a group cannot be true or false.  An argument can be valid and invalid, sound and unsound – terms we’ll unpack further down.

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