Recognizing Arguments

In logic, we use the term "argument" to mean a set of propositions in which some propositions--the premises--are asserted as support or evidence for another--the conclusion.

The author doesn't just tell us something that he takes to be true; he also presents reasons intended to convince us that it is true.

This intention is usually signaled by certain indicator words. The following is a list of the more common indicator words:

Premise IndicatorsConclusion Indicators
SinceTherefore
BecauseThus
AsSo
ForConsequently
Given thatAs a result
Assuming thatIt follows that
Inasmuch asHence
The reason is thatWhich means that
In view of the fact thatWhich implies that

Comprehension Questions

1 Determine whether the following contains an argument.

People want their appliances to be quiet. Yet, at the same time, they think that more noise means more power

a) Yes, it contains an argument.
b) No, it doesn't contain an argument.
2 Determine whether the following contains an argument.

There is more and more concern about the noise in our environment. One reason is that our environment keeps getting noiser and noiser.

a) Yes, it contains an argument.
b) No, it doesn't contain an argument.
3 Determine whether the following contains an argument.

Engineers can perform sound audits on machines to determine the noise produced by each moving part. First, they measure the noise level of the complete machine. Then, they disable different parts to measure the noise of each individual part of the machine.

a) Yes, it contains an argument.
b) No, it doesn't contain an argument.
4 Determine whether the following contains an argument.

Fortunately, the ordeal ended happily. The right people appeared at the appropriate time , and even their wrong turns led them to safety. It was a miracle.

a) Yes, it contains an argument.
b) No, it doesn't contain an argument.
5 Determine whether the following contains an argument.

The people of Northern Ireland are fed up with the violence that has wrecked their country. Support for the IRA and for militant Protestant groups is the lowest it has ever been.

a) Yes, it contains an argument.
b) No, it doesn't contain an argument


Diagramming Arguments

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