Systematic Philosophy

to know what can be known

Steps, Premises, Conclusions, Etc.

Once you know what an argument is, it is useful to learn the names of some of the different parts of an argument. Learning these names makes it easier to talk about arguments and the parts of arguments.

Four terms

We will now introduce four terms: “step”, “premise”, “conclusion” and “intermediate conclusion”. The definitions we will give assume that you already understand what a proposition is, what an entailment relation is and what a final conclusion is.

First, “step”. Every argument includes one or more propositions. A “step” in an argument is simply one of the propositions in that argument.

Second, “premise”. In addition to propositions, every argument also includes one or more relations of entailment. That is to say, every argument represents one or more of its propositions as entailing one or more of its propositions. A “premise” in an argument is a proposition in that argument that the argument does not represent as being entailed by any of the steps in that argument.

Third, “conclusion”. As we just said, every argument represents one or more of its propositions as entailing one or more of its propositions. A “conclusion” of an argument is a proposition in that argument that the argument represents as being entailed by one or more of its steps.

Fourth, “intermediate conclusion”. An “intermediate conclusion” of an argument is simply any conclusion of that argument other than its final conclusion.

It follows from the definition of “argument” and from the definitions above that every argument has at least one step. With the exception of some infinite arguments and some circular arguments, every argument has at least one premise. Every argument must have at least one conclusion. Every step in an argument is either a premise or a conclusion. One of the conclusions of an argument must be the final conclusion. All of the other conclusions, if there are any, are intermediate conclusions.

An example

Let’s consider an example:

This example is in numbered format. Every proposition here is a step in the argument. The premises, conclusions, intermediate conclusions and final conclusion are clearly marked.

Next up:  Text Format And Numbered Format

Previous: What Is An Argument?

Advertisements

Written by Geoff Anders

May 18, 2011 at 9:56 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

%d bloggers like this: