Rules for Argument V – Types of Premise

 

“It is the mark of an educated person  to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” – Aristotle

 

Definition

A succinct explanation of the meaning of a term or phrase

Hypothesis, general statement, or theory

The first kind of premise is a general statement or hypothesis.

Exemplar

The second kind of premise is an exemplar – the example that best support a conclusion.

Refutation

A refutation is an argument against an opposing point of view.

Belief or opinion

 the expression of one’s personal point of view

Allusion

a reference to a text or person on a subject

Meta-Argument

A statement concerning the rules or conduct of argument

 

 

Theory and Example

Some people have decided that they don’t like ‘theory’.  Theory is not good, they might say. (This is a theory about theory. A meta-theory. ) But everyone develops theories or hypotheses, or general ideas about the world, all the time.

A theory is the natural result of thinking about a number of examples together.  If the sun comes up, to take a mundane example, every morning that we can remember, this series of examples produces a general hypothesis about the world.  The sun comes up every morning. 

This is the kind of hypothesis that can be used as a premise to support an argument. It is also clear that a hypothesis – a generalisation about the way things might be – is a kind of conclusion supported by a number of examples that serve as premises for an argument.

Premise + Premise -> conclusion      example + example – > general statement about patterns of events

 

Kinds of Exemplar

Facts/data

 Details, records and results of observations of things and events

Statistics

Data generalising in a mathematical (and often probabilistic) way.

Precedents

similar events or instances of the past

 

e.g.

 

What then is the cause of these things?  For it was not without reason

and just cause  that the hellenes in old days were so prompt for

freedom, so it is not without reason or cause that they are now so

prompt to be slaves. There was a spirit, men of Athens, a sprit in the

minds of the people in those days, which is absent today – the spirit

which vanquished the wealth of Persia,  which led Hellas in the path of

freedom, and never gave way in face of battle by sea or by land; a spirit

whose extinction today has brought universal ruin and turned Hellas

uppside down.  What was this spirit?  It was nothing subtle or clever

-Demosthenes, urging the Athenians to fight Phillip of Macedon, 331

BC.

Anecdote

the telling of a true event

Testimony

the  telling of one’s personal experience

 

Narrative examples

Plato appears to have deplored fiction for the most part, while deploying narrative and fabrication as devices of argument with great frequency.  A premise can be ‘dressed’ in a narrative in order to make a point more vividly.  

Analogy

a reference to something that shares qualities with the subject (reasoning or explaining from parallel cases)

Allegory  

when one meaning or concept stands for, or  symbolises, another.

Fable

a fictional story that makes an argument or contains a moral

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About Honxqp

phd student in political communication View all posts by Honxqp

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