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Logical Arguments: Introduction to Logic, Arguments, Reasoning

What is an argument? What are logical fallacies? In order to debate well and think critically, we need the proper skills. Whether reading advertising, listening to politicians, buying a used car, or considering arguments for religion, we need to know how to carefully examine what is being said and consider the validity of the content or structure.

Introduction to Logic & Arguments: What is Logic? What is an Argument?
The term 'logic' is used quite a lot, but not always in its technical sense. Logic, strictly speaking, is the science or study of how to evaluate arguments and reasoning. Logic is what allows us to distinguish correct reasoning from poor reasoning. Logic is important because it helps us reason correctly - without correct reasoning, we don't have...

Why is Logic Important? Logical Arguments, Reasoning, and Critical Thinking
Why bother to learn about logic and arguments? There are several good reasons to take the time to learn more about both logic. The most immediate and obvious benefit is that it helps you improve the quality of the arguments you use.

What is an Argument? Understanding Premises, Inferences, and Conclusions
Lots of people argue, but few understand what an argument is and is not. You need to know what an argument is in order to construct a sound, valid argument or to evaluate another person's argument.

What is NOT an Argument? Differentiating Arguments from Hypotheticals,...
We've just seen a description of what an argument is and why, so now may be a good time to take a look at some things which are not arguments. Premises, propositions and conclusions - the pieces of arguments - may usually be easy to spot. But arguments themselves aren't always so easy, and very often people will offer things which they claim are...

Critiquing Arguments: How To Tell When Arguments Are Valid And/Or Sound
Assuming that we have established that we have an actual argument, the next step is to examine it for validity. There are two points on which an argument might fail: its premises or its inferences. Because of this, it is necessary to distinguish between valid arguments and sound arguments.

What are Definitions?
It may be true that defining key terms and concepts is important to the start of any productive argument, but not all definitions are the same. Most logic texts list five different types of definitions which people might use. This can give the impression that the matter is pretty well settled, but it's not. In fact, the assumption that the matter is settled is part of what gives rise to debates about the nature of definitions every so often.

What is a Fallacy? Understanding Defective Arguments
Fallacies are defects in an argument - other than false premises - which cause an argument to be invalid, unsound or weak. Fallacies can be separated into two general groups: formal and informal. A formal fallacy is a defect which can be identified merely be looking at the logical structure of an argument rather than any specific statements.

What is an Explanation? Explanations are not Arguments
An explanation is not an argument. Whereas an argument is a series of statements designed to support or establish the truth of an idea, an explanation is a series of statements designed to shed light on some event that is already accepted as a matter of fact.

Agreement and Disagreement
When people argue about something, it is because they disagree. If they already agreed, they probably wouldn't be offering arguments for or against anything. Unfortunately, when people are in the midst of a disagreement, it isn't always clear to them or to others just what they are disagreeing about. Figuring out where the actual disagreement lies and where potential agreement might exist can be very helpful.

Theoretical Definitions: Constructing a 'Theory' About the Nature of a Concept
If a definition is supposed to help us better understand a concept, theoretical definitions are those which do the most heavy work in that regard. Lexical definitions try to help us understand how a concept is used, but theoretical definitions try to help us understand how a concept is and should be used in all cases. Theoretical definitions...

Stipulative Definitions: Arbitrary Definitions for New Concepts
We have a stipulative definition any time a word is being defined for the first time or in a brand new way. Stipulative definitions are in a sense completely arbitrary — this means that they are basically non-binding proposals which no one needs to assent to.

Precising Definitions: Limited Definitions to Reduce Vagueness in Specific...
Although a good lexical definition should reduce the ambiguity inherent in a term, it cannot reduce the term’s vagueness. For that, we need to move to a precising definition (also sometimes called an explicative definition).

Lexical Definitions: Explaining How a Word is Used In General Contexts
Most of the time when encountering a definition, we are looking at a lexical definition. A lexical definition (sometimes also called a reportive definition) is any definition which explains how a word isactually used - it is thus distinct from stipulative definitions which simply propose a possible way to use a word and which may or may not be...

Persuasive Definitions: Using Definitions to Pesuade Others to Accept a Claim
Whenever a definition is offered for the purpose of influencing a person’s attitude or feelings towards the subject in question, we are dealing with a persuasive definition. As should be obvious from the name, the whole point is to 'persuade' rather than simply explain or clarify - for that reason, persuasive definitions often aren’t considered...

Argument Clinic: What is an Argument? What is not an Argument?
Everyone thinks they know what an argument is, but in reality too few genuinely understand what a logical argument is and what it is not. If you don't understand what an argument is, you won't understand when someone is making a genuine, legitimate argument or something much weaker that only looks like an argument. You also won't be able to...

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