Presentation on theme: "What makes an argument good? It is often taken to be the case that an argument is good if it is persuasive, that is, if people are inclined to accept it."— Presentation transcript:
What makes an argument good? It is often taken to be the case that an argument is good if it is persuasive, that is, if people are inclined to accept it. People accept all kinds of foolish things. This is no standard of quality. In fact, Western philosophy was born when some people drew a distinction between philosophy and sophistry.
What makes a good argument: Validity – Means that IF the premises are true, then the conclusion has to be Soundness – Means the argument is valid AND – Means that the premises ARE true
Examples: Bill and Hillary Clinton have the same last name People with the same last name are siblings :. Bill and Hillary Clinton are siblings
Example: Whoever wrote the Bible is a great author Charles Dickens wrote the Bible :. Charles Dickens is a great author
Exception: Inductive arguments Sometimes, people try to establish the truth of a generalization by citing numerous examples. This is an example of a kind of reasoning called “Inductive reasoning”. In my experience, few arguments are intended to be inductive, and those that are won’t look like what we’re looking at as arguments.
Inductive reasoning within deductive arguments: Consider: Driving without a seat-belt is dangerous You should not do dangerous things C. You should not drive without a seatbelt This is a valid deductive argument, but is it sound? There might be some dispute about 2, but it’s a general principle, and is settled by deductive means. 1 is probably based on inductive reasoning.
Science and induction Scientific reasoning is at it heart inductive. Inductive reasoning is at best only strong, because further evidence can call any conclusion into question. This is not to belittle it. Inductive reasoning is useful and unavoidable; this is just how it works.
The principle of charity There are very few true fools out there, so when evaluating an argument or filling in an unstated premise, use a principle of charity. The principle of charity assumes the best possible argument is the argument your opponent intended.
Attacking a Straw Man Attacking a straw man is what happens when you attribute to your opponent an argument or version of their argument that they do not in fact hold. Often, nobody could take such views as are being attacked seriously. This is one more way that people in disputes tend to talk past each other.
Example Protecting the home is anyone’s right, so firearms ought to be legal. Inappropriate assumed premises: - Any weapon is acceptable for protecting the home (even huge cannons and nukes) - All trespassers should be shot on sight - No laws ought to be made that make home- defense harder in any way.
Straw Men When responding to a position, be sure to find out what actual argument you are responding to you, and if it sounds like an argument no reasonable person would accept, you’re probably responding to a position that no reasonable person holds. Congratulations.