on arguing

I'm bad at arguing. I miss the point, go on tangents, cannot present my arguments coherently or critique ones presented to me and end up making a fool of myself. To get better at logic and critical thinking I actively look for resources and books. While looking through book recommendations on Reddit I found a comment that explaind the mechanicss of arguments in a straightforward and concise manner. It struck a cord and made sense in a way that other resources until this point had not. I'll be trying to teach what the post taught on my own to better retain the information and also identify any holes in my understanding.

An argument is made up of three components.

Valid Argument An argument is valid if the conclusion follows from the premises. Premise: All humans have tails Premise: Michael Jordan is human Conclusion: Michael Jordan has a tail The conclusion follows the premises hence the argument is Valid, but the premise is false hence the argument isn't sound

Sound Argument An argument is sound if all it's premises are true and the conclusion necessarily follows from the premises. Premise: All stars emit light Premise: The Sun is a start Conclusion: The Sun emits light All premises are true and the conclusion necessarily follows from the premises.

When presented with an argument, identify and categorize it into Premise, Inference, Conclusion, use deduction, experience, common knowledge and intelligence to challenge any of the three facets of the argument. Repeat the process recursively until you get a clear, unambiguous, valid argument, with which you can engage. Taking an example:

Friend: Eminem is the best rapper of all time.

This is an argument. The premises are concealed. So you ask, "Why?"

He says: Because his music affected a generation in a way no one has ever done before.

The argument now is:

P1: Eminem's music affected a generation in a way no one has ever done before.

Therefore C: Eminem is the best rapper of all time.

This argument is invalid. The conclusion doesn't necessarily follow from the premise. To make the argument valid, one needs to insert the following:

P1: If a rapper's music affects a generation in a way no one has ever done before, then said rapper is the best of all time.

P2: Eminem is a rapper.

P3: Eminem affected a generation in a way no one has ever done before.

Therefore, C: Eminem is the best rapper of all time.

Now, this argument isn't sound. P1 isn't obviously true; "bestness" in the context of rapping can't necessarily be reduced to the ambiguous phrase, "affecting a generation in a way no one has ever done before". So, as your friend's interlocutor, you would ask:

What does it mean to affect a generation in a way no one has ever done before? And why does bestness follow from this?

Last Edited On: 2021, 5, 29