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Hugh R Alcock

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Arguments Today our concern is to understand the basic structure of arguments and how they workArguing is ubiquitous and is an essential aspect of our daily livesSome arguments are serious and concern matters of life and death while others are just sillyThe executioners argument was that you couldnt cut off a head unless there was a body to cut it off from that he had never had to do such a thing before and he wasnt going to begin at HIS time of lifeAlice in WonderlandWhat is an argument exactlyAn argument consists of a set of statementspremisses thattogether support or establish the truth of another statement the conclusion The conclusion is said to follow from the premisses We can infer the conclusion from the premisses Inference is a rational relation between statements or sets of statementsTo infer B from A is to hold B true so long as A is trueIn other words if we assume A is true it is rational to assume B is true For exampleAssuming it is true that France is a republic and the weather is fine we can infer that the weather is fine ie hold it to be true that the weather is fineThere are two basic types of inference Deductive and InductiveLets look at each of these in turnDeductive InferenceIf one statement C strictly or logically follows from a set of statements eg consisting of A and Bthen C is said to be deduced from A and BAnyone who drinks cyanide will become very ill and Dennis drinks cyanide So it must followwe can deducethat Dennis will become very ill Here the truth of the two premisses namely 1 If anyone drinks cyanide then that person becomes ill and 2 Dennis drinks cyanide guarantees the conclusion namely Dennis becomes ill It would be irrational for someone to deny the conclusion But it might be objected one could deny the conclusion that Dennis becomes ill given that we cannot rule out the possibility that some people who drink cyanide do not become ill So it does not seem to be irrational to deny the conclusionWhat do you thinkNo this objection is misplaced because we are saying that so long as we take premisses 1 and 2 to be true we cannot rationally deny that the conclusion is true The objection on the other hand rests on not accepting the truth of 1
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