3 Conditions of a Good Argument: Not a good argument if:
Premises must be:
Relevant to the conclusion. Relevance Irrelevant Reason
Sufficient to establish the conclusion. Sufficiency Hasty Conclusion
Acceptable or true Acceptability Problematic Premise
The Relevance Principle - One who presents an argument for or against a position should attempt to set forth only
reasons that are directly related to the merit of the position at issue.
Relevant Premises - Its acceptance provides some reason to believe. Counts in favor of, or makes a difference to
the truth or falsity of the conclusion.
Irrelevant Premises - Its acceptance has no bearing on, provides no evidence for, or makes no difference to the
truth or falsity of the conclusion.
Irrelevant Reason - A member of parliament once charged that in the house of commons that the federal
Department of Health and Welfare has been co-operating with the Kellogg Company in permitting the sale of a
cereal which, she alleged, contained “little or no nutritional value.” Marc Lalonde, who was then Minster of
Health, seeking to rebut the charge, stated:
“As for the nutritional value of corn flakes, the milk you have with your corn flakes has great nutritional value.”
1. The milk that one has with Kellogg’s Corn Flakes has great nutritional value.
1.a. Kellogg’s Corn Flakes has significant nutritional value
The Sufficiency Principle - One who presents an argument for or against a position should attempt to provide
reasons that are sufficient in number, kind, and weight to support the acceptance of the conclusion.
Hasty Conclusion – “After hearing those advertisements from Participaction for the last couple of years, I thought
that when I joined a large recreation centre in North York, the place would be packed! Hah! How come out of all
the people who could visit, there were only eight people there the other night? Seems to me that most Canadians
are just too lazy for their own good.” - C: Canadians are lazy, sample is unreliable
The Acceptability Principle - One who presents an argument for or against a position should attempt to use
reasons that are mutually acceptable to the participants and that meet standard criteria of acceptability.
Unacceptable Premises - False, Doubtful, Unclear
1. Empirical Claims - Acceptability established by our experience, Our observation of the world around us
Personal sensory observations “The text that I am reading is printed on white paper”
General Knowledge based on the observations of others “Caesar crossed the Rubicon in 47 B.C.”
Generalizations based upon many observations “All swans are white.”
Theoretical knowledge of empirical and factual testimony of experts “Scientists believe that AIDS is not one
single virus, but several kinds of virus.”
2. Conceptual Claim“all bachelors are unmarried men”
About the meaning of terms and expressions, Example: Advertising is the same as propaganda
3. Normative Claims “Mona Lisa is beautiful”
Based on some criterion or standard (Aesthetic , Practical, Moral or ethical)
4. Metaphysical Claims “God is wise”
Serve as fundamental organizing principles for a belief system
About the existence and properties of entities not accessible to human observation
Examples: The world was created by a wise and kind god & Every person has in his heart the capacity to be
***Analysis example:***Appeal to Pity: I need an “A” to get into law school; I know that I didn’t show p for class
and turned in only some of my assignments, but if I don’t get into law school, my parents will be heartbroken, and
my father, who has a serious heart condition, will be terribly crushed.”
- this example has a major premise an appeal that should have pity on someone and take action based on feelings
rather than solid reasons.
Analysis: The appeal is to consider consequences of the student’s family and fact that the professor would not
want these on his/her conscience. However, if grades are based on performance, then this is an irrelevant appeal to an individual’s personal circumstances. More specifically, it is an appeal to the professor to ha