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This guide is here to help guide your revision for the Arguments in Action section for the National 5 Philosophy Exam. It is not exhaustive and you should use this alongside your class notes to help with your revision.
|Candidates must be able to identify, explain and give examples of the following terms to show their understanding:
Candidates must be able to:
Identify, explain and give examples of the following common fallacies:
Identify, explain and give examples of the following terms to show their understanding:
Statements may express disagreements or arguments. We use them all the time and they make up the majority of our speech.
A premise is a statement used in an argument to infer a conclusion. So premises are used to build up arguments which will eventually lead to a conclusion. If a sentence is expressing the main point of the argument which is trying to persuade you to accept then it is a conclusion. There are some key words or phrases you can look for which indicate something is a premise…
since, if, because, from which it follows, for these reasons,
Sometimes a premise is so obvious that it doesn’t need to be stated at all. An important skill for any philosopher is to be able to be able to identify any unstated premises that an argument might be implying.
These unstated premises are called hidden premises. Arguments rely on them to be valid and so this is why we must identify them.
A conclusion is the final part of an argument which provides the outcome. The conclusion does not have to come at the end of a passage – unless they are using ‘standard form’. Look out for key words which might indicate a conclusion:
therefore, so, hence, thus, it follows that, as a result, consequently, and others!
Now, keywords like these make it much easier to identify conclusions, but not all arguments have keywords that flag the conclusion.
Arguments are often presented in Standard Form.
True and False Statements
One very quick way of determining that an argument is unreliable is if one or more of the premise statements can be shown to be false. For example, the argument as follows is clearly unreliable because the first premise is false:
Notice that simply because one or more premise statement is false it does not necessarily mean that the conclusion will be false. (In this case, Barack Obama might speak French, but not for the reasons we have given.)
What it does mean, however, is that the argument is unreliable. Remember: the purpose of an argument is to convince the listener that a particular statement (the conclusion) is true. Even if the conclusion does turn out to be true, but the argument rests on false premises, it is not a reliable argument.
Valid and Invalid
An invalid argument is one which is badly put together. With an invalid argument, the conclusion does not follow from the premises. Here is an example:
Even though the first two statements are true, we can see that the conclusion is clearly false. This means the argument must be invalid because a valid argument will guarantee the truth of the conclusion if the premises are true.
Deductive and Inductive Arguments
Ad Hominem (Attacking the Person)
Illegitimate appeal to authority