Building a Solid Argument

Now, we get to one of the most important but often overlooked aspects of arguing: building your arguments in a solid and consistent way that has the maximum chance of bringing your opponent over to your way of thinking. A big part of that is understanding the building blocks of a solid argument.

A sound argument has three stages to it: premises, an inference and a conclusion. Premises are the foundation of the argument: a statement or statements derived from observations, knowledge or beliefs.  They can either be an affirmation (stating that something is true), or a denial (that something is false).

The second stage to an argument is inference – using the premises to obtain further statements, meaning to derive new propositions. Inference is implied by the premises, and may be explicitly stated or simply be implicit to the argument. Inferences can be used to derive further inferences, but at some point they must lead on to the final stage.

The conclusion is the end-point proposition, the final statement that must be believed or acted upon. A valid conclusion is affirmed solely on the basis of the premises and inferences and nothing else.


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