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



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.


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


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

Belief or opinion

 the expression of one’s personal point of view


a reference to a text or person on a subject


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


 Details, records and results of observations of things and events


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


similar events or instances of the past




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



the telling of a true event


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.  


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


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


a fictional story that makes an argument or contains a moral


About Honxqp

phd student in political communication View all posts by Honxqp

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: