Arguments

An argument is a piece of reasoning, from premises to a conclusion

Contents
Arguments
  • An argument is a piece of reasoning, from premises to a conclusion.
Examples
Black Swans
  • Conversation between Shane and Quinn:
    • Shane: Did you know there are black swans?
    • Quinn: No I didn’t. Have you ever seen any?
    • Shane: No, never.
    • Quinn: Then how do you know they exist?
    • Shane: I read it in the Britannica.
  • Shane justifies his belief that there are black swans by putting forth the argument:
    1. The Britannica says there are black swans.
    2. The Britannica is a reliable source of information.
    3. Therefore, there are black swans.
  • Statements 1 and 2 are the premisses of the argument, set forth to establish the truth of statement 3, the conclusion.
  • The second premise, unstated in the conversation, is inferred from the context, since it’s needed to derive the conclusion from the first premise. Shane’s statement of the argument is an enthymeme, a partly stated argument.
John Oliver
  • Conversation between Lucas and Mia:
    • Lucas: I really like John Oliver. I wish he would run for president.
    • Mia: There’s a problem with that. He’s not eligible.
    • Lucas: What do you mean he’s not eligible?
    • Mia: Only natural-born U.S. citizens are eligible.
  • Mia justifies her statement by putting forth the argument:
    1. Only natural-born U.S. citizens are eligible to be president.
    2. John Oliver isn’t a natural-born U.S. citizen.
    3. Therefore, he’s not eligible to be president.
  • Like Shane’s argument’s about black swans, Mia’s statement of the argument is an enthymeme. The second premise is inferred from the context, since it’s needed to derive the conclusion from the first premise.
  • Mia could have put forth the same argument by stating premise 2 rather than premise 1:
    • Lucas: What do you mean, he’s not eligible?
    • Mia: He’s not a natural-born U.S. citizen.
  • The first premise would have then been inferred from the context.
Editorial on Capital Punishment
  • After recounting the exonerations of two people sentenced to death, the New York Times set forth the following argument against capital punishment in an editorial:
    • “Death is the only final and irreversible criminal punishment. As the Richardson and Adams cases vividly show, humans and their governments are fallible and corruptible. Prudent humility dictates that fallible people refrain from inflicting irreversible punishments.”
  • The argument, reconstructed:
    1. Fallible governments should refrain from inflicting irreversible punishments
    2. Capital punishment is irreversible.
    3. Governments are fallible.
    4. Therefore, governments should refrain from inflicting capital punishment.
  • Like the earlier arguments, the Times’ argument is an enthymeme, in this case letting the conclusion to be inferred from the context.
Declaration of Independence
  • Text
    • “When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume, among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”
    • “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That, whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”
  • In the first paragraph Jefferson says that the colonies are obligated to publicly explain their argument for declaring independence.
  • The argument is set forth in the second paragraph:
    1. The people have the right to alter or overturn a government if it violates basic human rights such as the right to life, liberty and happiness.
    2. The British government of the colonies has violated those rights.
    3. Therefore the American people have a right to alter or overturn the British government of the colonies.
  • The second premise is supported by a second, long argument:
  • A leader of the Enlightenment in America, it’s not surprising that Jefferson thought in terms of arguments.
How People use Arguments
  • People use arguments to infer things, deliberate and make decisions, investigate and find things out, justify actions, defend beliefs, establish claims, engage in argumentation, and explain why things are true.
To Establish the Truth of Something
  • The arguments in the four examples are set forth to establish that things, that:
    • there are black swans;
    • John Oliver is not eligible to be president;
    • governments should refrain from inflicting capital punishment;
    • the American people had a right to alter or overturn the British government of the colonies.
  • “Establish” means to prove or make acceptable beyond a reasonable doubt.
  • “Setting forth an argument” means asserting the conclusion based on the premises.
To Support a Hypothesis or Course of Action
  • An argument can be set forth, not to establish something, but to support a hypothesis or course of action.
    • Evidence supporting a hypothesis:
      • CCTV footage of Aiden leaving the building supports the hypothesis he’s the killer.
    • A reason supporting a course of action:
      • The certainty that the perpetrator will never again commit a crime supports the use of capital punishment.
  • “Support” is weaker than “establish.”
    • Evidence can support a hypothesis without proving it.
    • A reason can support a course of action without establishing it ought to be done.
To Explain Why Something is True
  • An argument can be set forth to explain something. Here’s a second conversation between Lucas and Mia:
    • Lucas: I understand John Oliver is not eligible to be president. Do you know why?
    • Mia: Yes. Only natural-born U.S. citizens are eligible to be president.
  • In this case the premises of the argument explain the conclusion.
    • That John Oliver isn’t a natural-born U.S. citizen and that only natural-born U.S. citizens are eligible to be president arewhy he’s not eligible to be president.
      • They explain his ineligibility.
      • They are the reason he’s not eligible.
    • Alternatively,
      • John Oliver is not eligible to be president because he’s not a natural-born U.S. citizen and only natural-born U.S. citizens are eligible.
  • View Logical Equivalences among Why, Because, Reason, Therefore, Explain
As Part of a Dialectic (to Find the Truth)
  • An argument can be set forth as part of a dialectic.
  • A dialectic is an exchange of arguments to find the truth.
    • A proponent sets forth an argument. Her opponent replies to the argument, perhaps trying to disprove one of the premises. The proponent responds. And so on.
  • The idea is that the back-and-forth eventually zeroes in on the truth.

View Dialectic

As Part of an Investigation (to Find the Truth)
  • An argument can be evaluated as part of an investigation.
  • An investigation is the process of evaluating arguments for and against competing hypotheses to find the truth.
  • The process comprises:
    • Framing competing hypotheses
    • Formulating the arguments for and against the hypotheses
    • Evaluating the arguments and drawing a conclusion.

View Investigation

  • “Evaluating an argument” means determining whether the the premises adequately support the conclusion.
As Part of Deliberation (to Make a Decision)
  • An argument can be evaluated as part of deliberation
  • Deliberation is the process of evaluating arguments for and against options to decide a course of action.
  • The process comprises:
    • Framing the options
    • Formulating the arguments for and against the options
    • Evaluating the arguments and deciding a course of action.

View Deliberation

Other Uses
  • An argument can be set forth to persuade others to believe or do something.
  • An argument can be set forth as part of a competitive debate, where the goal is to win.
Awareness of Arguments
  • Though everyone uses arguments, people’s awareness of arguments varies greatly.
  • Philosophers, judges, lawyers, mathematicians, and theoretical physicists are especially aware of arguments.
    • Philosophers’ modus operandi is the analysis of arguments.
    • Judges set forth arguments in their opinions.
    • Lawyers present arguments in lawsuits and in closing arguments at trial
    • Mathematicians construct proofs — very, very long arguments.
    • Theoretical physicists like to use thought experiments as the basis for argument.
  • For many people, though, arguments don’t register as reasoning from one thing to another.
The Myth that Facts Speak for Themselves
  • A misconception is that arguments don’t matter because facts speak for themselves.
    • Sometimes facts indeed speak. But when they do, they speak, not for themselves, but as premises of an argument. For example, Mia can put forward the argument that John Oliver can’t be president by stating two facts:
      • Only natural-born U.S. citizens are eligible to be president.
      • John Oliver isn’t a natural-born U.S. citizen.
    • The obvious inference is that John Oliver isn’t eligible to be president.
    • But merely listing sundry facts too often results in either a bad argument or puzzlement about what the point is.
    • Example:
      • Here are the facts: When Biden was inaugurated on January 20, 2021 inflation was increasing at the rate of 1.7%. In June 2022 that figure was 9%.
    • What conclusion is supposed to be drawn? That inflation has increased? Or, that Biden’s policies are responsible for the increase?. If the latter, the argument is fallacious, an instance of Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc.
    • The takeaway:
      • When facts speak they do so, not for themselves, but as premises of an argument.
Common Kinds of Arguments
  • A deductive argument is an argument from premises to a logically entailed consequence.
  • A probability argument is an argument from evidence to a probable hypothesis.
  • A normative argument is an argument from reasons to a course of action.
  • An analogical argument is an argument based on similarities of things.
Deductive Arguments, Overview
  • A deductive argument is an argument from premises to a logically entailed consequence, i.e., an argument whose conclusion (purportedly) follows necessarily from its premises.
    • Purportedly allows for bad deductive arguments.
    • An argument is valid if its conclusion follows necessarily from its premises.
  • Example
    • John Oliver isn’t eligible to be president because he’s not a a natural-born U.S. citizen.
      1. Only natural-born U.S. citizens are eligible to be president.
      2. John Oliver isn’t a natural-born U.S. citizen.
      3. Therefore, he’s not eligible to be president.

View page on Deductive Arguments

Probability Arguments, Overview
  • A probability argument is an argument from evidence to a probable hypothesis, i.e., an argument whose premises (purportedly) make the conclusion probable
    • Purportedly allows for bad probability arguments.
  • Types of probability arguments:
    • Reliable-Process Arguments
    • Abductive Arguments
  • A reliable-process argument is an argument whose conclusion is (purportedly) made probable by a reliable process.
  • Basic Form
    1. E, the evidence, is true
    2. E-ness is reliable evidence of H-ness
      • Because of a reliable process
    3. So H is true
  • Example
    • There’s somebody at the door — I hear the doorbell is ringing.
      1. The doorbell is ringing.
      2. A doorbell ringing is reliable evidence that someone’s at the door.
      3. So someone’s at the door.
  • An abductive argument is an argument whose conclusion is (purportedly) made probable by explaining and/or predicting the evidence
  • Basic Form
    1. E, the evidence, is true
    2. Hypothesis H explains and/or predicts E better than competing hypotheses.
    3. Therefore H is more likely than the competing hypotheses
  • Example
    • In December 2008 Bernie Madoff confessed to running a $50 billion Ponzi scheme, the largest in history.  But for the previous ten years Harry Markopolos, a Boston accountant, tried unsuccessfully to persuade the Securities and Exchange Commission that Madoff Investment Securities was running a scam.  Here’s his argument:
      1. Bernie Madoff’s fund Fairfield Sentry had only 7 losing months out of 174; its largest monthly loss was only 0.55%; and its longest losing streak was one month every few years.
      2. The hypothesis that Madoff is running a scam explains and predicts Fairfield Sentry‘s performance far better than the hypothesis Madoff is an honest investor.
      3. Therefore it’s much more likely that Madoff is running a scam than he’s an honest investor.

View page on Probability Arguments

Normative Arguments, Overview
  • A normative argument is an argument from reasons to a course of action.
  • Types of normative arguments:
    • Deontic Arguments
    • Consequence Arguments
  • A deontic argument is an argument from a principle to a course of action
  • Basic Form
    1. Principle
    2. Facts
    3. Therefore, course of action
  • Example
    • You should take your little brother to the zoo because promises should be kept.
      1. Promises should be kept.
      2. You promised to take your little brother to the zoo.
      3. So you should take your brother to the zoo.
  • A consequence argument is an argument from possible consequences to a course of action.
  • Basic Form
    1. Probability, improbability, or possibility of the consequences of a course of action.
    2. Value of the consequences of the course of action.
    3. Therefore, course of action
  • Example
    • You shouldn’t shoplift because you might get caught.
      1. If you shoplift you might get caught.
      2. Getting caught would be bad.
      3. Therefore, you shouldn’t shoplift.

View page on Normative Arguments

Analogical Arguments, Overview
  • An analogical argument is an argument based on similarities among things.
  • Analogical arguments are either probability or deductive arguments.
    • Analogical probability argument
      • Basic Form
        1. A and B are alike in respects X, Y, Z
        2. A is a Y
        3. Therefore B is likely a Y
      • Example
        1. A small model water turbine has been successfully tested under the same conditions under which full-size turbines are expected to operate. 
        2. Except for size, the model turbine is just like the full-size turbines. 
        3. Therefore, in all probability, the full-size turbines will operate without a problem.
    • Analogical deductive argument
      • Basic Form
        1. A and B are alike in all relevant respects
        2. A is a Y
        3. Therefore B is a Y
      • Example
        1. There’s no morally relevant difference between cheating and surreptitiously changing your grade on the instructor’s spreadsheet.
        2. Changing your grade on the instructor’s spreadsheet is morally wrong.
        3. Therefore, cheating is morally wrong.

View page on Analogical Arguments

Summary of Kinds of Arguments
  • Deductive Arguments: from premises to a logically entailed consequence
  • Probability Arguments: from evidence to a probable hypothesis.
    • Reliable-Process Arguments: conclusion made probable by a reliable process.
      • E, the evidence, is true
      • E-ness is reliable evidence of H-ness
        • Because of a reliable process
      • So H is true
    • Abductive Arguments: conclusion made probable by explaining and/or predicting the evidence
      • E, the evidence, is true
      • Hypothesis H explains and/or predicts E better than competing hypotheses.
      • Therefore H is more likely than the competing hypotheses
  • Normative Arguments: from reasons to a course of action
    • Deontic Arguments: from a principle to a course of action
      • Principle
      • Facts
      • Therefore, course of action
    • Consequence Arguments: from possible consequences to a course of action
      • Probability, improbability, or possibility of the consequences of a course of action.
      • Value of the consequences of the course of action.
      • Therefore, course of action
  • Analogical Arguments: based on similarities among things
    • AnalogicalProbability Arguments
      • A and B are alike in respects X, Y, Z
      • A is a Y
      • Therefore B is likely a Y
    • AnalogicalDeductive Arguments
      • A and B are alike in all relevant respects
      • A is a Y
      • Therefore B is a Y

View Obsolete Definitions

Evaluating Arguments
  • Evaluating an argument is determining how strongly (or weakly or if at all) the premises support the conclusion.
  • This involves:
    • Formulating the argument so its premises, conclusion, and reasoning are clear
    • Determining whether the premises are true.
    • Determining whether the argument’s reasoning is sound.
  • The evaluation of arguments has become very sophisticated since 1900, with the development of formal logic, probability theory, and decision theory.
Addenda
Ancillary Topics
Pitfalls
Formal Systems
Exercises
Do these arguments establish their conclusions?

Establish means to prove or make acceptable beyond a reasonable doubt
(Merriam-Webster Unabridged).

  • False Statements to FBI (Answer)
    • On July 2, 2016 Hillary Clinton was interviewed for over three hours at the FBI headquarters regarding her private email server.  
    • In a congressional hearing on July 7, 2016 James Comey said that Clinton made six false statements during the interview.
    • According to 18 U.S. Code § 1001:
      • Whoever, in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Government of the United States, knowingly and willfully makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation shall be fined under this title or  imprisoned not more than 5 years.
    • Therefore Hillary Clinton violated 18 U.S. Code § 1001. 
  • John Oliver (Answer)
    • John Oliver isn’t eligible to be president because he’s not a natural-born U.S. citizen.
  • Invasion of Iraq was not Justified (Answer)
    • Had Saddam Hussein been responsible for the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. invasion of Iraq would have been morally justified.
    • But Hussein was not responsible for the 9/11 attacks.
    • Therefore, the U.S. invasion of Iraq was not justified.
  • Abortion (Answer)
    • Abortion should be legal because abortions will be performed whether legal or not.
  • Random Drug Test (Answer)
    • You’re given a random drug test that’s 95 percent reliable, meaning 95 percent of drug users test positive and 95 percent of non-drug users test negative.   
    • You test positive.
    • Therefore, there’s a 95 percent probability you’re a drug user.
  • Bible not Word of God (Answer)
    • The Bible says that Jesus of Nazareth was crucified about 9:00 AM the day after Passover (Mark 14:12; 15:25). 
    • The Bible also says that Jesus was crucified about noon the day before Passover (John 19:14).  
    • Both statements can’t be true.  
    • If the Bible is the inerrant word of God, everything the Bible says is true.  
    • Therefore the Bible is not the inerrant word of God.
  • Smoking Pot (Answer)
    • Most heroin addicts first smoked pot.
    • So, if you smoke pot you’re more likely to become addicted to heroin than if you don’t
  • Active and Passive Euthanasia(Answer)
    • There is no morally relevant difference between killing a person and letting them die.
    • It is morally wrong to kill a terminally ill person. 
    • Therefore, it is morally wrong to let a terminally ill person die.
  • Overweight (Answer)
    • Most Americans are overweight.
    • Therefore, most American children are overweight.
  • Kalam Cosmological Argument(Answer)
    • Whatever begins to exist has a cause
    • The universe began to exist.
    • Therefore, the universe has a cause
    • If the universe has a cause, an uncaused, personal creator of the universe exists
    • Therefore, an uncaused, personal creator of the universe exists.
  • Killing in Self-defense(Answer)
    • Killing is wrong.
    • Therefore, killing in self-defense is wrong.
  • Justification for Iraq War (Answer)
    • A country is justified in launching a war against another country if it has clear and convincing evidence that the other country possesses weapons of mass destruction that might be used against it.
    • The US had clear and convincing evidence that Iraq possessed chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction that might be used against it.
    • Therefore the US was justified in launching a war against Iraq.
  • Venus (Answer)
    • The Morning Star is the planet Venus.  The Evening Star is also the planet Venus. So the Morning Star is the Evening Star.
  • General Relativity (Answer)
    • If Einstein’s general theory is true, then clocks at 30,000 feet run faster than clocks at sea level.  Clocks at 30,000 feet do in fact run faster than clocks at sea level.  Therefore, Einstein’s general theory is true.
  • War on Drugs (Answer)
    • If Prohibition had succeeded in the 1920s, the War on Drugs will succeed.  But Prohibition failed.  Therefore, so will the War on Drugs.
  • Hume’s Argument against Miracles (Answer)
    • Testimony establishes a miracle only if the falsehood of the testimony would be more unlikely than the miracle itself.
    • The falsehood of the testimony of a miracle is always more likely than the miracle itself.
    • Therefore testimony never establishes that a miracle has occurred.
  • Capital Punishment (Answer)
    • “Death is the only final and irreversible criminal punishment.  As DNA exonerations vividly show, humans and their governments are fallible and corruptible.  Fallible governments should refrain from inflicting irreversible punishments.” (NY Times)
  • Fetal Homicide (Answer)
    • After her pregnancy ended in the stillbirth of an 8 1/2 month old fetus, Chelsea Becker was charged with murder because toxic levels of methamphetamine were found in the fetus’s system and she admitted using methamphetamines during her pregnancy.  California defines murder as “the unlawful killing of a human being, or a fetus, with malice aforethought.” But the statute does not apply if “the act was solicited, aided, abetted, or consented to by the mother of the fetus.”  As California’s attorney general observed, “a woman necessarily consents to an act that she herself voluntarily undertakes, free of fraud, duress, or mistake.”
  • Most US citizens were not born in the US (Answer)
    • Most US citizens speak English.
    • Most people who speak English were not born in the US.
      • Britannica: As of 2020 there are 1.27 billion English speakers around the world
    • Therefore, most US citizens were not born in the US.
  • Argument that 1 = 0.9999999…(ad infinitum) (Answer)
    1. ⅓ = 0.3333333…(ad infinitum)
      • self-evident
    2. Therefore, 3 x ⅓  = 3 x 0.3333333…
      • multiplying both sides of line #1 by 3
    3. 1 = 3 x ⅓
      • self-evident
    4. 3 x 0.3333333… = 0.9999999…
      • self-evident
    5. Therefore, 1 = 0.9999999…
      • from lines #2, #3, and #4
  • Arguments against Impeachment Article I (Answers)
    • Article I, paraphrased
      • Trump tried to extort Ukraine into announcing investigations into:
        1. the Bidens,
        2. an unsubstantiated theory involving a DNC server
      • by withholding military aid and promising a White House visit.
    • Arguments against Article I from the White House Trial Brief
      • The military aid flowed on September 11, 2019, and a presidential meeting was scheduled for September 1 and then took place on September 25, 2019, all without the Ukrainian government having done anything about investigations. (WH Brief, page 9)
      • Asking another country to examine potential interference in a past U.S. election is always permissible.  (WH Brief, page 81)
      • An impeachable act must violate the law. Trump violated no law. (WH Brief, page 1)
  • Ted Cruz (Answer)
    • Ted Cruz is not eligible to president. Born in Canada, he’s not a natural-born US citizen.
  • Increase in Cases (Answer)
    • Increased testing can’t be the only reason for a surge in new coronavirus infections. If it were, the percentage of positive tests would be dropping or at least remaining the same.
  • Case Fatality Rate (Answer)
    • The US has the lowest case fatality rate in the world. Here’s the proof:
Background
  • I taught Symbolic Logic for 20-25 years at SMU.
  • I came to believe that developing critical thinking skills was more valuable for students than learning formal logic. So in 2000 I put together a course on critical thinking, Introduction to Practical Reasoning (Philosophy 1300), which I taught until I retired in 2013.
Claims vs Arguments
  • Compare:
    • Ted Cruz isn’t a natural-born U.S. citizen.
    • Ted Cruz isn’t a natural-born U.S. citizen because he was born in a foreign country,
  • The first statement makes a claim, that Ted Cruz isn’t a natural-born U.S. citizen.
  • The second expresses an argument:
    • Ted Cruz was born in a foreign country.
    • No one born in a foreign country is a natural-born US citizen. (False)
    • Therefore, Ted Cruz isn’t a natural-born U.S. citizen. (False)
  • People infer things.  They investigate matters and draw conclusions. They deliberate and make decisions.  They give reasons for their decisions. They justify their beliefs.
  • All these activities involve arguments.
  • Some people are more aware of arguments than others, for example philosophers, judges, lawyers, and scientists.
  • Many people, though, are not aware of arguments as pieces of reasoning to be articulated and evaluated.
  • When people infer things, their reasoning can be put in the form of an argument.
  • All these activities involve arguments.
    • Inferring Things
      • A person infers there are black swans after reading in the Britannica that there are black swans in Australia.
      • Argument
        • The Britannica says there are black swans. (Premise 1)
        • The Britannica is a reliable source of information. (Premise 2)
        • Therefore, there are black swans. (Conclusion)
    • Investigating Matters
      • Special Counsel Robert Mueller investigated Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.  In the process he found evidence of ten alleged instances of obstruction of justice by Donald Trump.  One of these is that he directed Don McGahn to tell the Acting Attorney General to remove the Special Counsel.
      • Mueller’s argument that Trump obstructed justice from the Mueller Report:
        • A person obstructs justice if he/she does something with the specific intent to influence, obstruct, or impede a judicial proceeding.
        • On June 17, 2017 Trump directed Don McGahn to inform the acting Attorney General that the Special Counsel had conflicts of interest and must be removed.
        • Trump’s intent in directing McGahn was to influence, obstruct, or impede Mueller’s investigation.
        • Therefore, Trump obstructed justice
    • Deliberating and Deciding Things
      • In Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization the Supreme Court held that there is no constitutional right to abortion and overruled Roe and Casey.
      • Argument there is no constitutional right to abortion.
        • There is a constitutional right to abortion only if at least one of the following conditions is true:
          • the Constitution explicitly states that there is a right to abortion.
          • the right can be inferred from certain constitutional provisions, e.g. the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
          • the right is included in a broader constitutional right, e.g. the right to privacy.
        • None of these conditions is satisfied.
        • Therefore, there is no constitutional right to abortion
      • Argument overruling Roe and Casey.
        • Roe and Casey ruled that there was a constitutional right to abortion.
        • But there is no such right.
        • Therefore, Roe and Casey should be overruled.
    • Reasons for a Decision
      • The Bush administration justified its invasion of Iraq on the grounds that Iraq’s WMD’s posed a threat to the United State.
      • Argument
        • The US had clear and convincing evidence that Iraq possessed chemical and biological WMDs that might be used against it.
        • A country is justified in launching a war against another country if it has clear and convincing evidence that the other country possesses WMDs that might be used against it.
        • Therefore the US was justified in launching war against Iraq
    • Reasons for an Opinion.
      • The last paragraph of a New York Times editorial.
        • “Death is the only final and irreversible criminal punishment. As the Richardson and Adams cases vividly show, humans and their governments are fallible and corruptible. Prudent humility dictates that fallible people refrain from inflicting irreversible punishments.”
      • Argument
        • Fallible governments should refrain from inflicting irreversible punishments
        • Capital punishment is irreversible.
        • Governments are fallible.
        • Therefore, governments should refrain from inflicting capital punishment.
Obsolete Definitions
  • 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica
    1. Analogical Inference, from particular to particular: e.g. border-war between Thebes and Phocis is evil; border-war between Thebes and Athens is similar to that between Thebes and Phocis; therefore, border-war between Thebes and Athens is evil.
    2. Inductive Inference, from particular to universal: e.g. border-war between Thebes and Phocis is evil; all border-war is like that between Thebes and Phocis; therefore, all border-war is evil.
    3. Deductive or Syllogistic Inference, from universal to particular, e.g. all border-war is evil; border-war between Thebes and Athens is border-war; therefore border-war between Thebes and Athens is evil.

View Term ‘Induction’ is Obsolete