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Wilfrid Laurier University
Natalie Coulter

PP110 Argumentation in Philosophy The philosopher is above all someone who tests the reasonableness of beliefs, especially those concerning vexing questions. Example: What makes a person’s actions right or wrong? The philosopher relies on his/her reasoning to try to answer difficult questions. To reason is to argue. Therefore, argumentation is at the core of philosophical practice. Argument - An intellectual process that consists in a series of statements intended to establish a definite claim. - A set of premises aimed to support a particular conclusion. Deduction  To say that one claim, r, is deduced from others, p and q, is to say that if we hold p and q true then r must also be accepted as true.  One is naturally obliged to believe r to be true. Example: 1. Every tennis player is well coordinated. 2. Martha plays tennis. Therefore, we can deduce that Martha is well coordinated. It is an all-or-nothing process: one has no choice but to accept that the conclusion is true if it is accepted that the premises are true. Validity  The conclusion of a valid argument does not have to be true.  Validity is only a measure of the arguments’ logical virtue. Example: 1. Either the Eiffel Tower is in London or Paris. 2. The Eiffel Tower is not in London. Therefore, the Eiffel Tower is in Paris. 1. Either the Eiffel Tower is in London or Beijing. 2. The Eiffel Tower is not in London. Therefore, the Eiffel Tower is in Beijing. For both arguments, the conclusion is validity inferred from the premises. So long as the premises of a valid argument are true, the conclusion will have to be true. Invalid argument: 1. If Henry is a Martian, he is under 1 meter tall. 2. Henry is not a Martian. Therefore, Henry is over 1 meter tall. Variety of Ways to Argue 1. Argument by Deduction 2. Argument from Experience 3. Argument by Analogy 4. Inference to the Best Explanation 5. Argument by Reductio and Absurdum 1. Argument by Deduction  Example: Sherlock Holmes deduces that Violet Smith is a cyclist because her shoes are worn in a way that is invariably caused by pedaling.  The formal argument would be: 1. All marks of mark M on a shoe are caused by pedaling a bicycle. 2. Violet smith’s shoes have mark M. Therefore, Violet Smith pedals a bicycle; she is
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