Argument: contradiction, disagreement
One person is frustrated, while the other is calm.
Meta argument: arguing about having an argument
The term argument has several meanings:
Contradiction between views
Disagreement among arguers
A quarrel between arguers
An attempt to prove a viewpoint
Can you think of any other meanings for the word argument?
We argue about many things:
Is it okay to have sex before marriage?
Should Ford be re-elected?
Do parents play a big part in bully’s lives? Is smoking in public places okay?
What should I major in, in University? Should I work part time while in
school or not?
Make a list of specific issues for arguments.
Bias can interfere with arguments:
When we think too highly of our understanding of a situation
When we favor arguments that uphold our beliefs (only believing what you
want to believe)
When we assume that someone with positive attribute(s) is intelligent,
pleasant, moral, etc. (we believe whatever they say because we trust them) An argument is defined as “a set of reasons offered in support of a claim.”
The reasons can be oral, written, or visual, etc
The claim is an arguments conclusion
The reasons are also know as an arguments premises
Reasonal opinion Support
Don’t cheat on your essay; it’s unfair to all the other students
Conclusion: You shouldn’t cheat on your essay
Premise: it’s unfair to other students if you cheat
Assessing real life examples
Step 1 identify the components of an argument.
These include the arguments conclusion and premise(s)
Arguers and system of arguers
Where there is an argument, there is an arguer behind it.
An arguer can be a single individual or a group of people who hold a
This is the first of several “people” who can be involved in the make-up of an
The premises used by an arguer may be rooted in the arguer’s systems of
belief which may be influenced by our sex, race, nationality, religion,
education, career, personal experiences, etc.
Systems of belief can remain rooted and unchanging or they can be rejected.
An audience is comprised of a person, or group of people, who are being convinced
of a conclusion.
Different Kinds of audiences
Specific audience: considering the actual audience members of an argument, their
belief systems (eg., profession, family status, etc)
Universal Audience: an abstract concept that assumes a broader audience
reasonable people worth different systems of belief Different kinds of audiences
Sympathetic: those who are inclined to side with a given argument
Open: those who are open to considering an argument they may not have agreed
with, or thought a bout, in the past.
Hostile: those audience members who do not agree with an argument and are the
hardest to convince of a conclusion
Opponents and Proponents
There is always an opponent to an argument one makes.
Its important to consider opposing views when developing an argument.
There is always a dialectical exchange.
An opponent may respond by criticizing one’s argument, by requesting some kind
of clarification, or by expounding an opposing argument.
A dialectical exchange is a process between proponents and opponents who
engage in a dialogue of arguments, criticisms, doubts, questions, and so on.
Summary of terms
Arguer, audience, opponent and proponent
System of belief
Specific audience, universal audience
Hostile audience Lecture 2
Bias and Conflict
Chapter 2, “Conflict is for the Birds”
Halfway between asking a lot of questions vs. believing everything.
Battersby question on a test: she will not ask the same specific situation. Will
just require the same process of critical thinking.
Ex: Essay Re-appraisal. Get another professor to mark your essay because you
received a poor grade from your prof and are not happy with it.
A person who is good at dealing with experts and expertise outside their own field.
To be biased is to have an, “inclination or prejudice for or against” something.
Recall “systems of belief”
How do your systems of belief connect to your own biases?
Bias can turn into Illegitimate Bias
An illegitimate bias can negatively influence how we support our claims and
out ability to listen to others’ views.
Features of Illegitimate Bias:
Inability to recognize one’s own biases
Inability to articulate others’ arguments
Typically occurs when dealing with matters of high importance to an
Can you think of an illegitimate bias hold?
Signs of Illegitimate Bias Include:
Conflict of interest
Slanting by omission
Slanting by distortion
Vested Interests An arguer who makes or believes an argument because he/she has
something to gain—and not because the argument has strong rationale—
may have a vested interest.
A vested interest can lead to a conflict of interest
Armani & Guggenhiem
Conflict of Interest
Someone who has a conflict of interest when he/she has the ability to make
a decision or an argument that unfairly provides him/her with advantages.
Someone who has a conflict of interest should declare it, as his/her ability to
act impartially may be compromised. (good example would be in the office at
Slanting by Omission
When an arguer fails to give important information of his/her argument
because it weakens the view, or at least casts doubt about it, slanting by
omission may be occurring.
Results in a more concise version of an argument.
Emphasizes specifically chosen elements of an argument.
Slanting by Distortion
An arguer may be slanting by distortion when aspects of an argument are
concentrated on, or even exaggerated, in order to highlight a particular
impression the arguer wants to convey.
Allows an arguer to emphasize reasons that support his/her argument and
downplay reasoning that does not work as well.
Occurs when individuals’ interests are in disagreement with each other
Interests = wants, needs, hopes, concerns, etc.
“Conflict is for the Birds”
Woodpecker (not afraid to get angry. Have serious drive to prove their point.
STUBBORN. Don’t care about others opinions at all) Noisy
Owl (calmer in the middle of arguments. Try to present an unbiased opinion. Good
at long term, thoughtful decisions)
Parakeet (cater to others who are having the argument. Not very controversial.
Don’t really get their real point out. PROS: they are really good at knowing other
Ostrich (agree to disagree. If they are unable to escape, they will have an aggressive
reaction, verbal and physical)
Hummingbird (meet people halfway. Don’t need to win. Seek agreements between
conflicting parties. Brain-stormer.)
Some roadblocks to communicating your way through argumentative situations
Woodpecker: tends to make orders; can bully or threaten.
Owl: excessive questioning, theorizing
Parakeet: try being honest about how you feel/think
Hummingbird: restate/reframe others’ thoughts/feelings
Ostrich: open to others’ ideas; don’t fear disagreement
Some tips for effective communication of arguments
Woodpecker: Don’t interrupt, practice empathy
Owl: show understanding non-verbally (less talk!) Parakeet: try being honest about how you feel/think
Hummingbird: restate/reframe others’ thoughts/feelings
Ostrich: be open to others’ ideas; don’t fear disagreement
Detecting Illegitimate Biases
o Looking for balance
When determining when arguments have illegitimate bias. The following
method can be used:
1. Note any vested interests, or conflict of interest.
2. Look for slanting, whether by omission or distortion.
3. Survey opposing views.
4. Admit problems with difficult cases.
Constructing Arguments Without Your Illegitimate Biases
Be explicit, or transparent, about your commitments or beliefs that influence
Be careful about expressing arguments too emotionally
Be careful not to overstate, or exaggerate, parts of your argument
Summary of Terms
o Illegitimate Bias
Conflict of Interest
Slanting by Omission
Slanting by Distortion
o Woodpeckers, owls, parakeets, ostriches, hummingbirds Lecture 3: Chapters 4/5
Dad is a woodpecker.
Conflict of interest? – yes, because the dad will have a comfortable mind but son
loses time hanging out with his friend.
Chapters 4 & 5: Dressing and Diagramming Arguments
Important Terms and Methods
Simple and extended arguments
Sub argument and sub conclusion
Statement, Argument, or Opinion?
1. The fundraiser is next Saturday. Statement
2. You should go to the fundraiser. Opinion
3. You should go to the fundraiser because you will be supporting a good cause.
Reasoned Opinion (same as argument)
4. The triathlon is next week. Statement
5. One of the best ways to get in shape is to prepare for a triathlon. Opinion
6. You need to get in shape. You should prepare for the triathlon. Argument
Simple Argument: single conclusion supported by one or more premises.
Extended Argument: at least one premise that is supported by another premise,
making it a premise of the main argument, and a conclusion of a sub-argument.
Sub-arguments: support the premises that support the argument’s main
Sub-conclusion has a dual role – a premise for the main conclusion, and a
conclusion for a premise(s)
“We should be grateful when people choose to care for ailing relatives. This
alleviates the burden on hospitals.”
(no pronouns in argument diagrams)
P(premise): Caring for relatives eases the burden on hositals.
MC(conclusion): It’s a good thing when people take care of their ailing relatives.
Extended Argument Diagram “We should be grateful when people choose to care for ailing relatives. This
alleviates the burden on hospitals, allowing for less expenses on resources (e.g.
space, personnel, etc.). It can also provide less for waiting times and over-crowding.”
P1 (Premise 1): Caring for relative's means hospital would save on overall expenses.
P2: Caring for relative’s means there would be less waiting times, or overcrowding.
C (Sub-conclusion): Caring for relative’s eases the burden on hospitals.
MC (Conclusion): It’s a good thing when people take care of their ailing relatives.
Some premise indicators include the following:
It follows from
The reasons are
Some conclusion indicators include the following:
It follows that
We conclude that
Arguments Without Indicator Words
Not all arguments contain inference indicators.
When arguments do not contain these logical indicators we must ascertain for
ourselves whether there is
an issue in dispute;
a claim supported by a reason(s)
Can you do a MAC? “Mental argument check”
add an indicator word to check whether an argument seems to be present.
Arguments and Explanations
If “X, therefore Y” is an argument, then it is Y (the conclusion) that is in dispute. If “X, therefore Y” is an explanation, then the issue in dispute is whether X caused Y.
You can ask yourself whether X is an attempt to explain the cause of Y or argue for
Their car is in the driveway, so they haven’t left for the party yet.
Their car is in the driveway until the garage is cleaned out.
Is an argument actually present?
Look for conclusion and premise(s)
Admit ambiguity of the arguer
Admit that you are not sure of the authors intent, which means your
interpretation may be in question
For the following, decide whether an argument, explanation, or both are present. Be
able to explain your answer.
Question: “If you could live forever, would you and why? Answer: I would not live
forever, because we should not live forever because if we were supposed to live
forever then we would live forever but we cannot live forever which is why I would
not live forever.”
P1: We are not meant to live forever
C1: We shouldn’t live forever
MC: I would not want to live forever
Argument Diagrams: Simple Arguments
When we construct an argument diagram, the following legend should be followed:
Premises are designated with P1, P1…
A conclusion is marked as C
In extended arguments the main conclusion is MC, and the sub-conclusions as C1,
The argument parts are connected with arrows from premises to their conclusions
An example of a simple argument diagram:
P1= All students should study the rudiments of logic MC = Courses on critical thinking should be mandatory
Exercise 5A, 4
Diagram the following argument:
“Al Jazeera is a breath of fresh air…There are half the number of commercials, no
pro-war or anti-war bias, and a fearlessness no longer seen at the other networks.
And it does it all in style.”
P1: There is half the number of commercials on Al Jazeera television
P2: There’s no pro-war or anti-war bias
P3: There’s a fearlessness no longer seen at the other networks
P4L Al Jazeera television does it all in style
MC: Al Jazeera television is a breath of fresh air
P1 P2 P3 P4 MC
Diagramming Extended Arguments
An example of an extended argument diagram:
P1 = Thinking clearly and logically is an important skill
C1 = All students should study the rudiments of logic
MC = Courses on critical thinking should be mandatory
P1 -> C1 -> MC
Benefits of Diagramming Arguments
Diagramming delineates clear paths of reasoning from premises to
conclusions, eliminating noise.
Diagramming can help determine whether premises work independently of
each other or need the support of other premises.
When developing your own arguments, a diagram sketch can aid in
formulating a strong written or spoken argument.
GROUP ASSIGNMENT Chapter 2: p. 49 i)
Yes, the following is an argument
P1: Convincing quotes are easy to obtain and are meaningless
P2: Customer quotes may come from a brief peak of satisfaction
C: The ads don’t state the results over time
MC: Fad diet ads offer convincing quotes from highly satisfied customers It is an illegitimate bias through slanting by omission. The arguer does not
specifically state how the quotes are formed/produced. By leaving out unfavorable
results, it makes it seem as though every fad diet has only favorable results every
Noise is not integral to an arguments diagram.
Noise can include the following:
Background information and context repetitive information
None of which are necessary in the method of diagramming the premises and
conclusions in arguments.
Linked and Convergent Premises
Linked premises function together to support a conclusion.
This implies that one, or more of the unit of linked premises cannot function
by itself to prove its conclusion.
They must be connected with a “+” sign connecting linked premises in an argument
P1: All humans are mortal
P2: Socrates is human
MC: Socrates is mortal
P1 + P2 -> MC
A CONVERGENT PREMISE provides proof for its conclusion independently, not
requiring the aid of another premise
Determining whether premises are linked or convergent b