Episode 1.4: Premises and Conclusions


Evaluating Premises and Conclusions: An
Overview. So far ,you know that arguments are made
up of a conclusion and the premises offered to defend or
uphold it. Some arguments are deductive, that is, if the premises are true and the
former the argument is valid, then the conclusion has to be true and
the argument is sound. Other arguments are inductive. An inductive argument if the premises are
either true or at least acceptable remember that
means that their relevant to the issue at hand and
provide sufficient justification then the conclusion is likely to be true
and we consider these inductive arguments to be strong in questioning both types of arguments there are a number of evaluations you
can make to determine the soundness or strength up the argument in this
module you learn about two main ways to
evaluate an argument first you’ll hear about how to evaluate
premises in and of themselves on their own merits
then you learn how to evaluate the logical
link that connects the promises to the conclusion this module provides an overview of the
key evaluation approaches you should use to assess any argument you encounter later modules
will dig deeper into each approach and explain how you can effectively use
the techniques to evaluate different types of arguments evaluating promises truth and
acceptability premises supply the evidence on which an
argument is based and their strength can range from the
strongest promises that are straightforward facts such as the Earth revolves around the
Sun to weaker premises my personal opinions are value judgments
can like your friend saying this music is awful one standard for
evaluating a promise is to determine whether it’s true or
false we can use observed or empirical evidence that is things we see touch hear smell
taste and so on to figure out whether certain kinds of
promises are true now it may not be easy to determine the
truth repress for a lot of early human history proving
that the earth revolved around the son was quite difficult but we at least
know how we’re supposed to go determining its truth which means
proving or disproving the premise sometimes while it may be possible in theory to actually observe the truth to
the Primus it may be practically speaking impossible to do so
for example take the claim that all swans are white
in order to definitively proved this to be true we would be defined every single Swan on
the planet to see what color it is a daunting task especially considering
more swans are being born all the time however we could rely on Swan experts conducting research involving as many
Swan says is reasonable and investigating aspects aswan biology to Tolleson experts view once one color
while we wouldn’t prove that the premise was true we could judge it to be more or less
acceptable in addition to hard to prove empirical claims there are other
promises that cannot be evaluated on whether they’re true or not promises that relate to a static moral
or ethical claims fall in that category opinions in value
judgments represent personal cultural communal
social and religious perspectives and police these by their very nature
cannot be proven or disproven however that does not mean that they
cannot or should not be subjected to scrutiny
and evaluation to determine whether they provide acceptable reasons
for agreeing with the particular argument throughout your personal academic and
professional life you grapple with the number of arguments
based on opinions or value judgments you should resist the temptation to
simply say well everyone’s entitled to their own
opinions and to accept all such argument is equally possible there are many important issues and
problems about what you’ll find serious disagreements critical thinking is meant are you with
the tools and resources to carefully consider those arguments assess the relative strengths and
weaknesses and come to an informed in considered opinion above which one you believe to be true
were reasonable relating promises and conclusions validity relevance
insufficiency it’s not enough to simply evaluate
individual promises to determine their truth or acceptability consider the following argument the sky
is blue therefore I should wear sunglasses when
I’m outside now it is true that the skies blue but a reasonable person might wonder
what in the heck does the sky being blue have to do with wearing sunglasses the truth the premise does not
necessarily guarantee that you’re dealing with a valid argument instead consider an argument
that says the Sun is bright I should make sure to
wear my sunglasses today now this argument seems much stronger and it is stronger because one the
premise years or can be determined to be upon
visual examination true and two there’s a reasonable
connection between brightness and the wearing
sunglasses remember that deductive arguments are those were the true to the
premise can lead to a valid conclusion so when
evaluating deductive arguments you should look for whether the former
the argument is valid a deductive argument has a valid form if
it is impossible for the premises to be true
and the conclusion to be false so to illustrate this consider an
example of an argument with an invalid for your friend tells you the
old business building is worn out and it’s unsafe so we should tear it
down for the safety of the students while the premise is that the building
is old and safe are true they don’t necessarily lead to
the conclusion that the building has to be torn down
one obvious alternative is that repairs could be made to make
the building safe in this case even though the premise is true it’s
still possible for the conclusion to be false because it’s not necessarily related to
the promise now think about this alternative example
that has a valid for your friend says your business buildings
and safe because it doesn’t have a fire alarm system which makes it unsafe so we should
install a fire alarm system for the safety the students here clearly if the premise is true then the
conclusion must also be true for inductive arguments two separate
standards must be used to evaluate arguments logical validity relevance and
sufficiency instead of the true or not standard used
for deductive arguments inductive arguments rely more or less on
acceptable promises to make them stronger or weaker this makes the relationship between the
premises and conclusions much more complicated it’s not the case
that a premise you judge to be true conserve on its own
to defend a conclusion instead you’re dealing with promises
better often opinion rather than fact and these
premises have a range in their acceptability so one thing you must do in evaluating
an inductive argument is the first figure out if the premises
are relevant to the issue at hand and the conclusion that strong imagine
your professor asked the class should I hold a review session before
the midterm exam your classmate responds by saying no you
shouldn’t the text book for this class was really
expensive now the claim that the textbook was expensive maybe a perfectly acceptable claim but
doesn’t have anything to do with the conclusion that
there should not be a review session consider an alternative response no you
shouldn’t my friends in the other section in this
class and they aren’t having a review session I don’t think it would be fair if we
have one in this case you will still want to evaluate the
acceptability of the premises about fairness but it is clear that there is a
connection between the premises and the conclusion in addition to
figuring out whether the premises are relevant you must also assess whether they are
sufficient that means you must think about whether
the claims made promises or enough to justify the conclusion
let’s go back to the second response on the midterm review question the one we’re classmate says no we
shouldn’t my friends in the other section and they are having a review
session let’s say you determine the following
things one it is true that the other section is not
having a river you to fairness between sections is a
reasonable and acceptable thing to be concerned
about in three what’s happening in the other section is
relevant for your class Joe’s at it do you accept your
classmates argument is strong enough or might you instead say well I see your
point it is important to be fair and I feel
bad that the other class won’t get to have a review but why should we suffer too that’s not
a good enough reason essentially you’re saying that your
classmates premises are not sufficient reasons to accept his conclusion that is it’s not enough to justify the
conclusion now you should have some idea of how to
go about evaluating deductive an inductive arguments you should
examine the premises themselves and tried to determine whether they’re
true acceptable then you need to consider the connection
between premises and conclusions are the promises relevant to the issue
and the conclusion reached or the sufficient to justify that
conclusion knowing to ask these questions is an important step in critical
thinking in later modules you learn more about how to answer these
questions

9 Replies to “Episode 1.4: Premises and Conclusions”

  1. How is the premise: "All Swans are white", different from a conclusion of the same?. Surely it's both as it's a standalone statement. Or can someone have a premise separate from a conclusion so it's not really an argument your're analyzing? Pretty confusing!

  2. …….premise….. everybody's fingerprints are different in the whole world…….prove it,…….same with DNA. cheers

  3. In the example “All swans are white” you wouldn’t have to find every swan in the world, you’d just have to find one swan that is not white. Just saying

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