Argumentation in philosophy
the philosopher is above all someone who tests the reasonableness
of beliefs especially those concerning vexing questions, eg. What
makes a person’s actions right or wrong?
Insofar as such questions are difficult the philosopher relies on her
reasoning to try to answer them. And to reason is to argue.
Argumentation is therefore at the core of philosophical practice.
An argument (to paraphrase Monty Python) can be defined as: an
intellectual process which consists in a series of statements
intended to establish a definite proposition (claim). In other words,
it is a set of premises aimed to support a particular conclusion.
Deduction: to say that one claim, r, is deduced from some others,
eg. p and q, is to say that if we hold p and q true then r must also
be accepted as true, that is, one is rationally obliged to accept r as
Deduction is all or nothing in the sense that one has no choice but
to accept that the conclusion is true if one accepts that the
premises are true, so long, that is, as the argument is valid.
Validity- an argument is valid when its conclusion must follow from
its premises. However, the conclusion of a valid argument does not
have to be true. Validity is only a measure of the argument’s logical
Consider the following 2 valid arguments:
1st. Either the Eiffel tower is in London or it is in Paris
2nd. The Eiffel tower is not in London
3rd. Therefore, the Eiffel tower is in Paris.
For the argument, the conclusion is validly inferred from the
premises. Again, so long as the premises of a valid argument are
true its conclusion will have to be true.
Any good argument has to be valid, otherwise we are not rationally
obliged to accept the conclusion even when its premises are true.
Ex of an invalid argument:
1. Henry is a Martian, then he is under 1m tall
2. Henry is not a Martian
3. Henry is over 1m tall.
There are a variety of ways to argue. The most common are:
1. Argument by deduction
2. Argument by experience
3. Argument by analogy
4. Inference to the best explanation
5. Argument by reductio ad absurdum 1. Argument by deduction:
Sherlocke holmes is probably the most famous non existent
practitioner of his style of argument. For example, he deduces that
violet smith is a cyclist because the bottom of her shoes are worn in a
way that is invariably caused by pedaling.
The argument is:
1. All marks of type m on a shoe are caus