The thought is argumentative by nature. An argument is the manifestation of a written or oral reasoning, enunciated by someone, in order to persuade another person of what he has raised.

The existence and validity of an argument depends on its conciseness, consistency, veracity and coherence , central elements to favor solvency in the communication of ideas, clarity and the possibility of convincing.

A good argument depends on the strength of the investigation . If you expect others to understand your views, it is important to argue them on the basis of specific and relevant data.

The argument is then a set of reasons or evidence supporting a conclusion.

Argument elements

The proposition is the essential element of the argument. In plural, these make up the body of reasoning that aims to affirm that something is or is not, and they are true or false, although it is not yet known.

To make this clearer, let’s look at some typical examples of propositions below:

  • Sculpture is an artistic expression.
  • Lynn Chadwick was a sculptor.
  • Athletics comprises a series of sports practices.
  • Usain Bolt is an athlete.
  • Salvador Dalí was a representative of surrealist painting.
  • Oil is a non-renewable energy resource.

The propositions allow to put together the arguments. In case the proposition is based on other propositions, it is said that an inference has been made. It is necessary to understand all these aspects to be clear about the correct concatenation of an argument.

The importance of inference and preposition in arguments

Inference is a linguistic strategy that allows linking a group of propositions, regardless of whether they are correct or not.

That is, when determining whether an inference is correct or not, a study of propositions and the links between them is carried out to constitute an argument.

It happens that the theme of the propositions, schematically, would be this way: proposition A plus proposition B gives rise to an inference , which in itself is a new proposition.

For example, consider the earlier propositions mentioned in the previous section of this text. In this way, we have the following:

  • Sculpture is an artistic expression.
  • Lynn Chadwick was a sculptor.

From these propositions it follows: Lynn Chadwick is an artist. Another example, starting from the examples already exposed previously:

  • Athletics comprises a series of sports practices.
  • Usain Bolt is an athlete.

It follows then: Usain Bolt is a sportsman . Many times, the subject of the argument is intermingled with the forms of thought. Specifically, with what is called a syllogism And it is that to argue well you need to think well. That is the key to this matter!

Structure of the argument

It is possible to have several propositions without an argument that relates them. And it is essential that there is a structure in that group of propositions that shows an inference. For example, we have the following case:

  • Sculpture is an artistic expression.
  • Oil is a non-renewable energy resource.

Nothing can be inferred from the aforementioned propositions, because there is no link: there is no argument. And it is necessary that the propositions of the argument follow a certain structure delimited by two elements: premise and conclusion .

The conclusion of an argument is the proposition that is asserted on the basis of other propositions of an argument. These other propositions that support the conclusion are the premises of the argument. Here are examples:

  • Premise 1 : Surrealist painting is defined by the representation of figurative forms based on dream images.
  • Premise 2 : Salvador Dalí is one of the most important representatives of surrealist painting.
  • Conclusion : Consequently, Salvador Dalí’s painting is characterized by the representation of figurative forms based on dreamlike images.

As you can see, every good argument has a well-built structure. Equally, it is then easy to detect when an argument is poorly elaborated . Therefore, part of a counter-argumentation consists of checking possible flaws in the framework of the initial argument.

Importance of the argument

Argument is essential because it is a way of knowing which opinions are better than others. Obviously, there are dissimilar points of view. Some conclusions are based on good reasons, others not so much.

However, to know for sure which conclusions are the strongest, arguments in favor of the different conclusions are used and then weighted to see how strong they are. Here is a point where so-called inferences take on undoubted value.

That said, an argument is a way of inquiry. Weighing the veracity of the data obtained, asking questions, contrasting data, are strategies that help to obtain informed conclusions. That is, an argument is a way of thinking.

Also, arguing is important for another reason. When a well-founded conclusion is reached, it is explained and defended on the basis of arguments. No conclusion is validated without the arguments that weigh it.

A good argument is not a simple repetition of the conclusions . Indeed, you must provide reasons and evidence, so that other people can form their own opinions for themselves.

For example, if you are convinced that life on earth is endangered by climate change, you will need to use arguments to explain how you came to that conclusion.

Thus, you will convince other people . It is not objectionable to have opinions, the problem is not to have anything else. An argument is always intended to convince.

Some general rules for arguing

While there are no hard and fast rules to argue, it happens that some steps can be followed. The guidelines below are quite helpful for making a coherent argument :

You must differentiate between premises and conclusion : the first rule lies in the questions What are you trying to prove? What is your conclusion? As already stated, the conclusion is the statement for which you are giving reasons. And the premises are the statements through which you offer your reasons.

 

  • You should put your ideas in a logical order : short arguments are usually written in one or two paragraphs. State the conclusion first and then your own reasons, or state your premises first and determine the final conclusion. In this sense, present your ideas in order, in such a way that they are expressed in the most natural way to their recipients. 
  • You must base your arguments from reliable premises : it is one of the basic conditions, because even if your argument, from premise to conclusion, is valid, if your premises are inconsistent, your conclusion will also be inconsistent. The weakness of the premises leads to a weak conclusion.
  • It must be concrete and brief: if you can say something in six specific words, why say it in ten, for example. You should avoid abstract, vague and general words. The conciseness, in addition, prevents the receiver from getting lost among many terms.
  • You should avoid emotional language : You should avoid language aimed only at producing emotions . One exercise that might be helpful is trying to understand your opinions even if you think they are wrong. Essentially, qualifying and subjective adjectives should be avoided.
  • You must use consistent words : the arguments obey clear connections between the premises and the conclusion. Consequently, it is extremely important to use a single set of words for each idea.
  • You must use a unique meaning for each word : it is often the case that the issuer uses a single word in more than one sense. To avoid ambiguity, it is recommended to previously define each key term you use and then respect the meaning you have given it. In addition, you will need to define special terms and technical words.

By following the steps outlined above, a well-crafted argument is made . However, it is also useful to answer the following question: what are the types of arguments that exist? For each of them, there are different steps.

Main types of arguments according to their content

To categorize the arguments, their content is taken into account. That is, what they are about. And it is that according to the type of information that they expose, they imply different ways of being elaborated and presented to convince:

  • Arguments based on data : these are the arguments that use very specific pieces of information, commonly taken from scientific research or statistical data. They are useful to give more rigor to the arguments, supporting them in empirical data.
  • Arguments based on experiments : it is the type of argument that is supported by an in situ experience . The issuer submits his argument to the evidential experience at the same time as he states it. Arguments based on experiments are useful because they are incontrovertible, since they appeal to the facts.
  • Arguments based on values : this type of argument is more in the philosophical and moral area , because they are aimed at highlighting ethical values, be they good or bad. These arguments are not helpful in describing objective reality. And if used for that purpose, it would fall into the so-called “logical fallacy”, the ad consecuentiam argument .
  • The arguments based on descriptions : these arguments are very valuable when trying to describe a phenomenon in a general way. It is a way of using various arguments to defend a point of view or idea.

For example, to argue in favor of the thesis that Homo sapiens, 100,000 years ago, used some form of oral language to communicate, one could speak of the similarity of the cranial cavity of that subject with the current Homo sapiens and of the internal indentations of both skulls, corresponding to the speech area, located in the left lobe, etc.

  • Arguments based on authority : typical of experts in very diverse fields, this kind of argument supposes a point of view that deserves greater respect, although it could lead to the “logical fallacy”.

At best, the argument from authority has dominated over the unscientific arguments. Fundamentals based on authority give oneself seriousness and rigor. You can use phrases or quotes from experts but that are closely related to the topic at hand.

  • Arguments based on definitions : Arguments of this type are based on definitions. They include definitions of ideas, notions, explanations of what certain things are useful for, etc. In this case, care must be taken that the definitions correspond to the current state of the knowledge in question.
  • The arguments based on examples : The arguments of this class take up to a total of three examples as arguments of something that explains the idea or that reinforces it to support it.
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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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