Knowing the characteristics and types of arguments is extremely useful By the way, every time we want to express our points of view it is necessary to argue. Therefore, it is a type of knowledge that is effective in our daily lives.

What is the argument?

The most common definition is the one that delimits the argument (from the Latin argumentum ) as a reasoning that works to demonstrate or prove that what is expressed (orally or in writing) is true. The argument seeks to convince a third party about something that is affirmed or denied. Persuasion is the leitmotif of the argument, so it must be consistent, solid and without contradictions.

Characteristics of the argument, its structure

All argumentation has four basic elements, which are used for its construction, namely: 

  1. The object: it is the subject that is proposed.
  2. The speaker: is the subject who presents a perspective on reality, who assumes a certain position.
  3. Character: it is based on the opposition of two or more positions. The statements are all linked to each other by opposition, contrast, analogy, etc.
  4. The objective: the arguments are intended to provoke adherence, persuade or convince the receiver about the acceptable of a notion or perspective.

The argumentation, consequently, develops on three levels . We list them equally:

1) The thesis: consists of the essential idea on which it is reflected. It is the core of the argument, as it is the approach itself. The thesis may include a series of chained reasoning.

2) The argumentative body: it is the body that brings together the reflective process that develops, ratifies or applies the central idea. In the argumentative body, all the arguments and strategies that facilitate the defense or challenge of a concept are brought together.

3) The conclusion: in inductive arguments, the conclusion is the thesis obtained from the reasoning. In the case of deductive arguments, the conclusion synthesizes the main concepts exposed in the argumentation.

With this in mind, we can now delve further into this topic. Here are the various types of arguments that exist.

Types and examples

How many types of arguments are there? In fact, the variety is wide. In any case, below, we give a brief description of the most frequent ones.

● Inductive arguments

The inductive arguments are those that have a particular, different characteristics deductive arguments.

Although it seems like a truism, it is not, because the common presumption is that inductive arguments are reasoning from the particular to the general, which does not completely determine the identity of this type of argument. A particular characterization would be the following.

  • First: in inductive arguments the premises show a characteristic that the elements of an initial set A have in common.
  • Second: the premises also establish that certain elements of such a set share a second characteristic.
  • Third: in the conclusion the second characteristic (shared by a subset of elements not necessarily proper) is generalized to at least one new element of set A of which it is not known, from the information given in the premises , if it really does.

In order to illustrate the explanation given , some simple examples are shown that are identified by their initials:

  • From the particular to the general (PG)
  • From general to general (GG)
  • From the particular to the particular (PP)
  • From the general to the particular (GP).

Next, we give some explanations regarding what we have just indicated.

PG example

“César is Spanish and he’s kind.” “José is Spanish and he’s kind.” “Ángel is Spanish and he’s kind.”

In consequence , “all Spaniards are friendly”.

According to what has been said, the common characteristic that brings together the initial set is “being Spanish”. The general characteristic in the conclusion is “be nice.” The elements that have it in common are “César, José and Ángel”. The new elements are generalized to all the other “Spaniards”.

PP example

“César is Spanish and he is a footballer.” “José is Spanish and he is a footballer”. “Ángel is Spanish and he is a footballer.” Armando is Spanish ”.

In consequence , “Armando is a footballer”

According to the immediately above, the common characteristic that brings together the initial set is “being Spanish”.

The general characteristic in the conclusion is “being a footballer.” The elements that have it in common are “César José and Ángel”. The new elements are generalized to “Armando”.

GG example 

All Sevillians are friendly ”. “All Madrilenians are friendly.” “All the people of Barcelona are friendly.”

In consequence , “all Spaniards are friendly”.

That said, the common characteristic that brings together the initial set is “being an inhabitant of a city in the kingdom of Spain”. The general characteristic in the conclusion is “be nice.”

The elements that have it in common are “the people of Seville, Madrid and Barcelona.” And the new elements are generalized to the other “Spaniards”.

GP example 

“All cows are ruminants and they are quadruped.” “All goats are ruminants and they are quadruped.” “All deer are ruminants and they are quadrupeds.” “Dolly the sheep is a ruminant.”

In consequence , “Dolly the sheep is quadrupedal”.

In this sense, the common characteristic that brings together the initial set is “being ruminant”. The general characteristic in the conclusion is “being a quadruped”. The elements that have it in common are “cows, goats and deer.” And the new elements are generalized to “Dolly the sheep.”

The examples have made it clear that inductive arguments can occur in each of the four combinations seen; however, the exposed characterization can be extended to other cases, viz.

Example A

“All the dolphins known so far are mammals.” Consequently, “all dolphins are mammals.”

To this end, the common characteristic that unites the initial set is “being a dolphin”.

The general characteristic in the conclusion is that “they are mammals.” In addition, the elements that have the common characteristic “are the dolphins known so far.”

And the new elements are generalized to “the other dolphins that have not been known until now.”

Example B

“Many times, when Marta went out to buy food, she came back without money.”

Therefore, “in the future, when Marta goes out to buy food, she will return without money.”

The common characteristic that brings together the initial set is “Marta’s going out to buy food.”

The general characteristic in the conclusion is that “Marta returns without money.” The elements that have it in common are “Marta’s various outings, in the past, to buy food.” The new elements to which it is generalized are the occasions in which “Marta will go out to buy food.”

Example C

“Eight out of 10 young people in Italy eat pasta every day.”

Therefore, all young people in Italy tend to eat pasta every day.

The common characteristic that brings together the initial set is “young people in Italy”. The general characteristic in the conclusion is that “young people in Italy tend to eat pasta.”

The elements that have this characteristic in common are “eight out of 10 young people in Italy”. The new elements to which it is generalized are “two young people out of 10”.

In addition, there is another type of inductive argument that goes from the particular to particular (PP).

For instance:

“Some children of Basque mothers have blond hair.”

Therefore, “some children of Basque parents have blond hair”.

The common characteristic that unites the initial group is “being the son of a Basque mother”. The general characteristic in the conclusion is “having blonde hair.” The elements that have this characteristic in common are “some children of Basque mothers”. And the new elements to which it is generalized are “some children of Basque parents”.

In short, inductive arguments fulfill various functions , not only do they go from the fragment to the whole or from singular to universal statements, but there are inductive arguments that go from one portion to another, which involves the first. Other arguments go from one fragment to another fragment strange to the first. For example: “He is very tall.” Therefore, “his father is very tall.”

Deductive arguments

It is generally believed that deductive arguments are those that go from the general to the particular; but, reality indicates that there are deductive arguments that go from the general to the general, from the particular to the particular, and from the particular to the general.

In this sense, the deductive argument is the one that seeks that the conclusion necessarily starts from the premises . When that goal is achieved, the reasoning is valid. Otherwise, it is invalid. Thus, the distinction between valid and invalid reasoning would be defined.

Here are some examples of this type of argument :

PP example 

“Donald Trump is American and he is president.” Therefore, “Donald Trump is president.”

GG example 

“All hominids are vertebrates.” “All Chinese are hominids.” Therefore, “all Chinese are vertebrates.”

GP example 

“All dogs are vertebrates.” “Azabache is a dog.” Therefore, “Jet is a vertebrate.”

PG example 

“This pigeon flew west.” Therefore, “it is possible that the pigeons fly west.”

However, any person could doubt that the action of a dove is enough evidence to infer that all other pigeons will fly to the west. In any case, the argument is deductive although its validity can be questioned.

Other clearer examples of deductive arguments that go from the particular to the general. They are different from those mentioned above, and that is why we want to detail them a bit below:

PG example

“30 is greater than 20.” Therefore, “any number greater than 30 is greater than 20”.

“The Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world.” Therefore, “every other building in the world is lower than the Burj Khalifa.”

Abductive arguments

The  abductive argument  is a form of reasoning that aims to find simple conclusions through a set of premises. Contrary to deductive reasoning, in this case possible conclusions are obtained, but they cannot be confirmed.

Often times, there is not much speculation about the abductive argument . Therefore, we present below information in this regard:

For instance:

Premise 1: “All British people are educated.”

Premise 2: “Juana is British.”

Conclusion: “Juana is educated.

The conclusions that are obtained with these arguments are the most probable, but they could contain certain doubts. That is, it is not an argument that yields a definitive conclusion, but rather announces the highest probability.

Causal arguments

The causal arguments , thus described, are those that reason the existence of a cause, always for a certain effect. They establish a causal link between two facts that support the thesis.

Some examples of this type of argument:

“International airlines have serious cash problems due to the suspension of flights caused by the coronavirus worldwide.”

“If you eat a lot of saturated fat, your bad blood cholesterol levels will go up.” “If your bad cholesterol level rises, your risk of heart disease increases.” Therefore, “if you eat a lot of saturated fat, you increase your chances of dying from a heart attack.”

Argument by analogy

The arguments by analogy are well defined since they are based on the similarity of two structures. They seek to know something while preserving the same particularity. That is, A is to B as C is to D. The following examples apply:

Premise 1: “The woman has the reproductive capacity.”

Premise 2: “Juana, María and Diana are women.”

Conclusion: Therefore, “Juana, María and Diana must have the reproductive capacity”.

The validity of the counter-argumentation

The idea of counter-arguing is halfway between the conceptions of arguing and of taking an argument for granted. Obviously, those who counter-argue are responding to a previous argument, particularly to face it.

The counter-argument is a manifestation or a critical response to an argument. The purpose is clear, the counter-argumentation of a thesis seeks to provide reasons to justify the rejection of the argumentation that someone has exposed in favor of a thesis.

In that case, it is important to understand that counter-argumentation is necessary. It is part of the necessary feedback process that communication implies . It is argued to defend an idea, but you can make the opposite of that argument to reject it.

Keep in mind that you have to know how to hear the arguments for and against an aspect. Only in this way can a correct interpretation of the facts be achieved. However, this is difficult to achieve. People do not tend to argue, but to argue. 

Argument is not a lawsuit. In fact, it can be considered as an art. There is a way to argue, to sustain an idea correctly.

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Alexa Clark specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She has experience in listening and welcoming in Individual Therapy and Couples Therapy. It meets demands such as generalized anxiety, professional, love and family conflicts, stress, depression, sexual dysfunction, grief, and adolescents from 15 years of age. Over the years, She felt the need to conduct the psychotherapy sessions with subtlety since She understands that the psychologist acts as a facilitator of self-understanding and self-acceptance, valuing each person's respect, uniqueness, and acceptance.

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