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Argumentation: Discussion Summary country is more effective when the women are better attended to.

explanations merely narrate what caused a person to have a particular
Digests and excerpts taken mostly from A Practical Study of Argument, 7th Ed. Trudy Grover and
other helpful sources and websites. With additional explanations and appropriations. For more
belief without trying to offer any justifications for that belief such as
details, please consult or . Gender equality is a priority since my parents have taught me to become active
in gender empowerment activities. Explanations by purpose make
Arguments and Other Statements
something more understandable by emphasizing the motives in the
Arguments are kinds of statements that have at least one premise and at claim such as Gender equality is a priority since people wanted to change their
least one conclusion. A conclusion is the claim of the argument and a society and devote themselves to a higher purpose.
premise is the support to that claim. Arguments arise where there is a
Explanations by meaning make something more understandable by
context of disagreement or debate and when a person aims to persuade
providing a definition. An ostensive definition is given through a
another. One cannot understand an argument unless he is aware of the
physical or a non-verbal demonstration of examples, such as pointing to
context where the argument is found. An argument’s context may be
a chair when asked what a chair is. A lexical definition is the common
how the discussion started, what the goals of the people involved in the
usage or dictionary definition. A stipulative definition is a term’s
argument are, or what the issue in dispute is. Opinions are statements
assigned definition which is given to pursue a particular research,
that merely express one’s insight or belief. Conditional Statements seem
debate, or experiment. Sometimes, people strategically define concepts
like arguments but they are usually mere opinions or statements of facts
in order to push a claim, these are persuasive definitions. An objective
such as if there are bets, then it’s already gambling. Notice how this can be
definition must be acceptable to everyone and is not biased, but
very similar to the argument, since there are bets, it’s already gambling.
persuasive definitions embody the opinions or bias of the speaker, thus
Notice that in the conditional statement, one is merely stating that the
persuasive definitions are subjective. Examples of persuasive
existence of bets imply that gambling has occurred, the statement is
definitions are Allah is the true God, Masculinity is the superior gender, South
merely expressive of an opinion or knowledge. But in the argument, one
Korea is the better part of a big island close to Japan and China.
has acknowledged that there are bets, and has reasoned out of that
observation that gambling has occurred. Conditional statements involve Providing good definitions are quite challenging at times. Narrow and
mere expressions of opinion or fact while arguments involve an act of broad definitions may omit valid examples or include invalid examples,
reasoning or inference. A conditional statement has two parts, the respectively. Negative definitions state what the term is not, and these
antecedent, if there are bets, and the consequent, then it’s already gambling. definitions offers a limited and indirect understanding of the term.
Notice that premises justify their conclusions but antecedents only set Trivial definitions associates non-essential characteristics to a word’s
itself as a condition for the existence or truth of the consequent. meaning. Obscure definitions use words that are uncommon and
difficult to comprehend. Circular definitions use terms that are identical
Explanations are statements that seek to make a claim understandable,
to the term being defined, thus, they do not expand one’s understanding
while arguments seek to make a claim acceptable. Compare the
of a term.
argument: Gender equality must be prioritized by the government since the
country is more effective if the women are better attended to to the explanation:
Gender equality is being targeted as a priority since many studies prove that a

Take note of these premises: War has never been good for any country who
seeks to improve herself. We belong to a country who is in dire need of
Structures of Arguments improvement. Conclusions may be expressed as a rhetorical question
Since [1] states object to discrimination, [2] oppressive laws must always such as So, should you still go to war, soldier? or an imperative statement
be denied and [3] unfair social systems must always be rejected by the such as So go home and be with your family, soldier!
people. Since unfair social systems must always be rejected by the Statements in an argument may vary in scope such as: All are saved;
people, [4] the people must always desire equality. But [5] equality is
Most are saved; Many are saved; Some are saved; A few are saved; At least
achieved only in democracy. Therefore, [6] the people must always one is saved; No one is saved. Statements may also vary in the degree of
desire a democratic government. When the people always desire a commitment such as: He is certainly a philosopher; He is probably a
democratic government or [7] when there are no revolutions looming, philosopher; He is possibly a philosopher; Perhaps he is a philosopher;
the result is that [8] the democratic government will not change. There is a small chance that he is a philosopher; It is almost impossible for
him to be a philosopher. Note that many words or phrases may be used
to modify the scope and degree of commitment of statements in an
1 argument.
Divergent Structure
There is a difference between the relationships of these two pair of
statements: Men seek happiness – Men seek unhappiness; Women are
crammers – Women are non-crammers. Contraries are two statements
2 3 that cannot be both true but can be both false. Contradictories are
1 1 Linear Structure statements that cannot be both true and false. Can you tell which pair is
which? A false dichotomy exists when contraries are mistaken as
contradictories or when one mistakenly assumes that the options are the
4 opposite extremes. For example, Since you are not my friend then you are
my enemy.
1 1
Statements must always have an accurate interpretation. Sometimes our
interpretation is less accurate in order to make an argument seem more
Linked Structure sensible, this is called a charitable interpretation. However, when we
inaccurately interpret an argument in order to make it more defeasible,
7 6
we are committing a fallacy known as the straw man fallacy such as:
1 1 Convergent Structure People must stop flirting since being sexually unclean pollutes a person’s entire
character. Notice that mere flirting is gravely misinterpreted as sexual
immorality. Though the speaker easily attacked sexual immorality, he did
8 not really say anything about the topic which is flirting. Logicians have

identified frequent and recurrent mistakes in reasoning and have labeled Civility is a factor that involves a person’s attitude. To be civil, one must
them fallacies. remember to stay polite, poised, and to give sufficient time to the other
party to respond to an argument.
The Challenge of Argument
Ideally, arguments should be composed of neutral language. However,
In a rational discussion, a participant needs to respond to an argument
some people are able to convince others by using emotionally charged
and not simply react or ignore it. One ignores an argument when he does
language even when no reason or justification supports their arguments.
not give any response or the response he has given is completely
This is argument by epithet, when one uses loaded language instead of
unrelated to the argument that has just been raised. One simply reacts to
justifications in order to persuade. For instance, The blasphemous theory of
an argument when his response consists of what he feels about what has evolution must not be driven like an ugly devil’s horn to the delicate and
just been done or spoken. Neither ignoring nor reacting to an argument innocent minds of our sweet and faithful children in school. Notice how the
properly addresses an argument. To respond to an argument is to theory of evolution is harmfully labeled blasphemous and its teaching is
examine the truth of the premises and/or the validity of the conclusion. derogatively compared to a despicable image such as that of a devil.
This examination may lead to acceptance, rejection or suspension of Notice also how the children are made to look even more vulnerable so
judgment. The acceptance, rejection or suspension of judgment must as to imply that the listener must defend the children from harm. A
always be justified. Obviously, one’s justification for accepting or neutral version of the claim above is simply, The theory of evolution must
rejecting an argument may be challenged, implying that one’s not be taught in schools. Notice how the loaded version does not actually
justification for suspending his judgment may also be challenged. An offer any justification for his claim.
argument whose conclusion is certainly true if the premises are assumed
to be true is known as a deductively valid argument. A sound argument
is a valid argument with premises that are actually true. Valid and sound
Evaluating Arguments
arguments are very frequently accepted in rational discussions.
Claims are only as strong as the premises that they are built on. It is
When an argument is being rejected, that argument will be attacked by
important to know how to evaluate premises. Unlike conclusions,
another argument which is known as a counterargument. The
premises are not justified in an argument. If a conclusion is justified by
counterargument must attack the truth of the premises, or the validity of
a premise which is also justified by another premise which is also
the conclusion, or show further weaknesses of the argument. When
justified by another premise, and so on and so forth, then this is an
disagreeing parties rationally challenge one another’s claims and
infinite regress. Although initial premises are not justified, they must be
justifications, they engage in a dialectic discussion. During a dialectic
evaluated with regards to their acceptability, relevance and sufficiency.
exchange, especially in verbal discourse, there are important factors for
a productive discussion. An argument has clarity when one has properly Acceptable Premises
made his statement understood by the other party. Factors that affect
There are several reasons to accept a premise. Usually, common
clarity are simplicity and brevity. It helps to use words that are common
knowledge, facts, and a priori knowledge are accepted as premises. An
and to avoid complicated sentence structures. A statement that is too
a priori knowledge is knowledge that is true without empirical
long is difficult to take in or remember, especially in verbal discourse.
verification. For example, all squares have four sides and all bachelors are man can be a good bodyguard. Here the word defend first meant physical
single males. A testimony may also be a good premise if it is plausible, defense and then verbal or intellectual defense. The conclusion is
reliable, and from a person of authority. Sometimes premises are given fallacious since it has mistakenly assumed that the first and second
provisional acceptance in order to entertain, progress or conclude a mention of the word defend are used in the same way. More than
debate. Some premises are easy to reject, such as implausible ambiguity, vagueness exists when a word or phrase cannot be properly
generalizations like all men are liars, no Christian is immoral, and Germans understood due to the many possible meanings it can take or due to lack
are racists. Anecdotal evidences are testimonies that are taken from a of specificity such as if you are depressed, you should do something and once
single member or a very few member of the population. Because the we have enough men, we shall go to war. There is no definite way on how to
source came from an individual or a very small group, there is reason to account on what something and enough is. An ambiguous statement leads
dismiss it on the ground that it may not be applicable to the general to multiple sensible interpretations while vague statements are barely
population. Other premises are unacceptable due to their inconsistency, sensible due to its broad scope of interpretations.
impossibility, circularity, ambiguity, or vagueness.
Relevant premises
An argument is circular when the conclusion is already assumed by the
A premise is relevant if it strengthens, justifies or entails the conclusion.
premise. This is also known as the fallacy of begging the question or
An argument which conclusion does not follow from its premise/s is
petition principii in Latin. When someone says, God exists because the
known as non sequitur which means “it does not follow” in Latin. For
Bible says so, the premise, the bible says so, implies that the bible is
example, since I am her only suitor, I will soon be her boyfriend and He must
authoritative, but the bible is authoritative only if one assumes that there
be gay because he frequently wears pink clothes. A red herring fallacy occurs
really is an existing God who wrote it. When someone argues the most
in an argument when the original discussion is abandoned by
important course of action is to withdraw from war since all other actions are of
introducing a seemingly relevant but actually irrelevant new issue. For
less priority than that, the conclusion is merely restated in the premise,
example: It is true that it is important to discuss if the RH law should be
thus the argument is circular.
implemented or not. Especially if we remember that the country has a very low
Ambiguity exists when language is unclear or inexact. Semantic budget and many politicians are corrupt. We must have a course of action to
ambiguity exists when it is unclear which among the meanings of a address these problems. Notice that corruption and the national budget is
word is to be used. For example, Dog fights are now banned in the military. irrelevant to the RH law but the introduction of the former issues serve
Did it mean pitting dogs against one another or aerial combat? Syntactic as a good distraction in order to abandon the initial topic. Another
ambiguity exists when the phrasing of words or the syntax of a sentence example is: Yes, I was late yesterday and you would like some explanation. But
provides more than one interpretation of the statement, such as It is easy you have always hated everything that I do and I have always felt that I am not
to find a person using Google. Did it mean that if one uses Google, it is easy good enough for you. Why are you so prejudicial against me?
to find a person or a person using Google is easy to find? The fallacy of
When someone attacks the personality of the speaker instead of
equivocation occurs when one assumes that a word actually used to
attacking the argument, the fallacy of ad hominem or attacking the
mean differently was used to mean the same thing. When one argues: If
person is committed. Ad hominem may be categorized as
one is capable of defending himself or another, he can be a good bodyguard. That
circumstantial, abusive or tu quoque. Circumstantial ad hominem is
man has been able to defend his theories against many intellectuals. Thus, that
committed when one attacks a person’s circumstance or interests instead government since we became a nation. The genetic fallacy consists of
of his argument, such as Although you have expressed your argument that it unjustifiably assuming that the claim has properties which its origin has.
is proper to have a deadline extension due to unforeseen power shortages, you For example, The virtue of obedience to God is learned from Creationism.
are really just requesting the extension because you are a student and it is in Creationism is a poor concept. Therefore the virtue of obedience is also a poor
your interest to have the extension, therefore I do not see any merit in your concept.
argument. Abusive ad hominem involves offensive words hurled against
Instead of appealing to reason, some appeal to emotions. The fallacy of
the person such as Although you have expressed your argument that it is
appeal to pity or ad misericordiam consists of using pity or compassion
proper to have a deadline extension due to unforeseen power shortages, you are
to elicit a favorable response instead of a reasonable justification such as
a lazy, insincere, irresponsible and bad student and there will be no extension
for you. Ad hominem tu quoque or You Too fallacy exists when person in My proposal should be accepted because I have worked for it tirelessly and I
A disregards the argument of person B upon recognizing that person B have sacrificed my health for it. The fallacy of appeal to force or ad baculum
himself is inconsistent with his own claim. For example, Although you consists of using fear or threat to persuade a person such as in The whole
have expressed your argument that it is proper to have a deadline extension due of Korea belongs to China since China can conquer Korea easily with the
to unforeseen power shortages, I recall that your class did not react well when I former’s military might. The fallacy of appeal to desire uses the promise
uploaded the syllabus late due to power shortages a while ago. Therefore you of a reward. For example, Half my wage is yours if you agree with me that
will also not have your extension. the new manager must be ousted. The fallacy of appeal to guilt injects guilt
into the listener in order to manipulate his decisions. For instance, If you
The fallacy of guilt by association is committed when a negatively are pro-choice, then I hope someday you could be forgiven for all the lives you
received person or party is associated with a claim in an attempt to make have taken and for all the innocent laughter you did not allow to echo into this
the claim negatively received as well. For example, There is a proposal to earth.
strengthen the army and cut the budget for the mentally ill. This was once a
suggestion of Hitler, you know. I don’t think the proposal should push through, Sufficient Premises
do you? The fallacy of appeal to popularity or ad populum consists of The sufficiency of premises rely on first identifying what kind of
justifying a claim based on the significant number of people who connection they must have with the conclusion. Strictly speaking, there
believes the claim. For instance, Choose Brand X because it’s the most are only two kinds of arguments, deductive and inductive.
popular brand in America! The fallacy of appeal to consequences of belief
consists of denying a claim using its unfavorable consequences or A deductive argument is a kind of argument where the conclusion is
justifying a claim using its favorable consequences. For example, I don’t absolutely true if all the premises are assumed to be true. For example,
think the chancellor should be replaced because if he is replaced then who will be Giraffes are dogs. Dogs are eagles. Therefore Giraffes are eagles. Note that this
my friend in the school administration? The burden of proof fallacy or ad is not a sound argument since the premises are false. However, if one
ignorantiam or appeal to ignorance consists of using the lack of counter- assumes the premises to be true, then it would follow that the conclusion
evidence as evidence. For example, Ghosts really exist because no one has is also true. Deductive arguments may also have a conditional statement
proof that they don’t exist. The fallacy of appeal to tradition consists of as a premise such as in: It rained. If it rained, the ground is wet. Therefore the
justifying a claim solely through the fact that it is part of routine or ground is wet. There are common mistakes in understanding deductive
tradition. The socialist government must be kept since it has been our arguments involving conditional statements. Affirming the consequent
occurs when: using the premise if P then Q, one mistakenly asserts that strand of hay burns brightly as well. The fallacy of composition is
since Q is true then P is true. For example, If it rained, the ground is wet. committed when one assumes that what is true of a part of the whole is
The ground is wet, therefore it rained. Denying the antecedent occurs true of the whole. For instance, Since a strand of hay burns under ten
when: using the premise if P then Q, one mistakenly asserts that since P seconds, the heap of hay would also burn under ten seconds. A category
is false then Q is false. For example, If it rained, the ground is wet. It did not mistake is committed when what is true of A is also true of a related
rain therefore the ground is not wet. concept B in spite of B belonging to a different category. For example,
Since the brain is located inside the body, the location of the mind must be
A conductive argument is formed when the conclusion is absolutely true
somewhere inside the body as well. Note that the brain and the mind are
if at least one premise is true. Arguments with a convergent structure
related concepts, but the body belongs to a category that is physical
are conductive.
while the mind is not.
An inductive argument is a kind of argument where if all the premises
Statistical syllogisms are syllogistic arguments where what is most
are assumed to be true, the conclusion is only most likely to be true. A
likely true to a group is concluded as true to a part, sample or individual
discussion with only inductive arguments will not be able to show who
from that group. For example, Almost all persons in Class X are transferees.
is definitely correct, but it is helpful enough to show who is most likely
Mike is in class X. Therefore Mike is a transferee. When dealing with
correct or who has a stronger justification. There are many forms of
statistical syllogisms, always be mindful of how strong the probability
inductive arguments.
statement is, since that decides the strength of the whole argument.
Generalizations are inductive arguments where what is true about a Simple induction occurs when what is true of a portion of a group is
portion of the population is concluded as true for the whole population. concluded to be true to a sample of that group. By definition alone, this
For example, all reported cases of psychological disorder X has been diagnosed is weaker than statistical syllogisms. For example, Half of Class X is pro-
before the patient hits puberty. Therefore all cases of psychological disorder X is life. John is from Class X therefore he is pro-life.
discoverable before puberty. Hasty generalization or the fallacy of
Argument from analogy occurs when one assumes that what is true to
converse accident occurs when the portion of the population is too small
a case is also true to a similar case. The strength of arguments from
to make a reasonable inference about the entire population. For example,
analogy relies on how much the cases are alike. For example, When
Her heart has been broken by some guy. Therefore all guys are heartbreakers.
Marcos became a president, he transformed into a dictator, and then people
The fallacy of accident occurs when a generalization is applied to an
power put him down. Now that Noynoy is president, when he transforms into
exempted case, or to a case whose accidental features render the general
a dictator, people power will be able to put him down as well. Note that we
rule inapplicable. For example, When you cut people with knives and they
may disagree immediately on how Marcos is similar to Noynoy and
die, you are a killer. Some surgeons cut people up and then the patient dies.
whether the dictator that was Marcos is really what Noynoy is going to
Therefore some surgeons are killers.
become. The persuasive potential of the argument depends on how
The fallacy of accident and converse accident must not be confused with much the cases are perceived to be similar. A false analogy features
the fallacy of division and composition. The fallacy of division is cases that has been shown or obviously contains a significant amount of
committed when one assumes that what is true of the whole is true of a difference. For example, When the Marcos Regime amended laws, the results
part of that whole. For example, Since the heap of hay burns brightly, a were disastrous. When Cory rose to power, her regime also amended laws and
so the results must have been also disastrous. This is a false analogy since the may use conditionals to compose causal arguments. Antecedents or the
big difference between Marcos and Cory is that Marcos was clearly a condition may be necessary, sufficient or contributory. If B cannot be
dictator and Cory was a democratic leader. A prediction is an argument true without A being true then A is a necessary condition of B. If B is true
that draws a conclusion about a future event from premises about the once A is true then A is a sufficient condition of B. If B has a higher
past. For example, All her deceased relatives have died of cancer. She will also probability of being true if A is true and if B may still be true even if A is
die of cancer. false; then A is a contributory condition of B.

Causal Arguments are inductive arguments that seek to establish a We have the psychological tendency to accept arguments that have
causal relationship. For example, He has walked every afternoon from work conclusion/s we agree with even if the premise/s are poor. This is called
to his house. Every night he would experience leg pains. Therefore, his leg pains Confirmation Bias. For example, a theology student may agree with the
are caused by his afternoon walks. The Post Hoc fallacy occurs when one testimony, God exists because he has talked to me, spoken by a fanatic.
simply assumes that since event X follows event Y, the cause of Y is X. Although the premise, God talks to me, is problematic since it is anecdotal
For example, Without the rooster the sun will never rise again. The Slippery and implausible, the conclusion God exists is something that the student
Slope Fallacy is committed when a speaker unjustifiably assumes an already believes in and because he already affirms the conclusion, he has
event as a cause for a much greater event in order to make the claim more a higher tendency to affirm the entire argument. A pro-life activist has a
alarming than it really is. For example, We shouldn’t allow our children to good tendency to accept the argument euthanasia is wrong since we only
go home late at night. Next thing we know, they would go home pregnant or live on earth once because he already affirms the conclusion. Notice that
high on drugs. the premise is irrelevant since the issue of euthanasia is concerned with
the quality of life and not the quantity of life. But this irrelevance may
Correlation occurs when one event occurs after the other but there is no
go completely unnoticed by the activist. Confirmation Bias is not a
known causal relationship. An example of correlated events are the
fallacy but an example of a Cognitive Bias. Cognitive Biases are illogical
rising of the sun and people waking up. They may have a common cause
patterns of thinking that humans are psychologically inclined to commit.
or different causes which are also correlated. Sometimes events seem to
be correlated but they are merely linked. When an influential group of Post Purchase Rationalization is a cognitive bias where one tends to
people strongly suggest that there is a correlation between events, even ignore flaws of a product one has purchased in order to justify the act of
if they fail to produce justification, some individuals will get confused purchase. This is also known as Buyer’s Stockholm Syndrome.
and start to see a correlation or causation between those events. Stockholm syndrome is when a kidnap victim has grown attached to his
Superstitions have made a lot of people believe on false causations and abductor due to the prolonged sense of dependency and submission.
correlations because they are usually imparted by our respected elders. Post purchase rationalization is a buyer’s version of that syndrome.
We have to be aware whether things truly have causal relationships,
Groupthink is another cognitive bias where a group of individuals tend
correlations, or merely linked.
to decide in favor of one another’s preferences and not on the actual
Causality and conditionals are also frequently mistaken as one another. strength of the arguments’ justification. An unstated concern to keep
A causal argument is easy to distinguish from a conditional statement conflicts to a minimum results to each member of the group thinking
since the former is persuasive while the latter is merely reportive. We identically with the rest.