What is an argument? (IntroPhil 101.7)

    /    Sep 7, 2016   /     Mind builder  /    0 Comments  /    293 Views

We have said the dialectic method is basically argumentative: But what is an argument? An argument is a series of statements, one of which (the conclusion) is supposed to be established by the other statements (the premises).

Arguments are classified as either Deductive or Inductive

Deductive arguments: claim to demonstrate that if the premises are true, then the conclusions must be true. St. Thomas Aquinas’s five arguments for the existence of God is an example of deductive arguments. But a deductive argument might be valid and yet the conclusion may not be necessarily true.

A valid deductive argument is one in which the conclusion does follow logically from the premise, although the conclusion might not be true (because one of the premises is not true). This is called a sound argument.

A deductive argument that is not sound is said to be invalid. An invalid deductive argument is one in which the conclusion does not logically follow from the premises, though the conclusion might be true.

Inductive argument: The conclusions follow from a numbers of consistent observations; the argument is from particular instances to a general rule or statement. An inductive argument does not claim that its conclusions are true, but only that the conclusion has been established to be true with some degree of probability.

Inductive arguments can be weak or strong.

A strong inductive argument would establish the truth of its conclusion with a relatively high degree of probability. While a weak inductive argument would establish its conclusion with only a relatively low degree of probability

Examples of inductive arguments: arguments from Analogy, e. g:

  • Two things A and B have certain common properties: a, b, c. But A has a further property d. So B (by analogy) also has this property d.
  • A watch is designed for a certain purpose (telling time) and the eye is also designed for a certain purpose (vision) but the watch was made by the watchmaker, so the eye has the further property too-it was made by an eye maker (Intelligent creator).

Closely associated with this is the concept of dialectics where truth or conclusions are established within the synthesis of thesis and antithesis – Aristotle, Hegel, Marx used this method.

We saw that one of the fundamental principles in philosophy is doubting; not for doubt’s sake but for the sake of gaining more knowledge – this is called Methodological or Methodic Doubt and differs from Dogmatic doubt of the skeptics. Various philosophers have used Methodical doubt to advance philosophical knowledge. Methodical doubt was started by Socrates but Descartes developed a particular form into it: Methodical doubt according to Descartes was the only way of acquiring true knowledge.


Written By Kombian SOMTUAKA



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