What is an argument?

An argument is a reasoning that is used to demonstrate or prove that what is said or affirmed is true, or to convince the other of something that we assert or deny. The word comes from Latin argumentum.

The argument always seeks to persuade the other person about the veracity of what we say. For this reason, to be convincing, we must ensure that our argument is coherent, solid and without contradictions that could affect its credibility. Hence, it is said that a good argument must always be shielded, that is, without weak points, to face replies and refutations.

An argument is used to prove a point of view in a text, a debate, research, as part of an exchange of ideas in a conversation or to create hypotheses that explain phenomena or events. Argument is also part of our daily life. Every time we defend our vision of the world and our decisions we use different types of arguments to support our ideas.

Structure of an argument

An argument has three basic components:

  1. Thesis: it is a statement that supports the reasoning. For example: "Excessive sugar consumption is harmful to health"
  2. Premises: are the statements that support or deny the thesis. For example: "Sugar is present in most of the processed foods that we consume every day, that is why we tend to overeat it without realizing it. This is a risk factor for the development of diabetes, weight gain and deterioration of the teeth."
  3. Conclusion: it is the statement that marks the end of the reasoning, either to affirm or deny the thesis. The conclusion can also be valid or invalid: For example: "Sugar is harmful if consumed in excess."

See also Premise

Argument types

There are many types of arguments. Among the most important stand out the logical arguments, the deductive, inductive and abductive arguments and the four types of arguments raised by the philosopher Anthony Weston, which are the arguments of authority, of examples, of causes and by analogy.

Demonstrative and factual arguments are widely used in the scientific field because they are based on verifiable data.

Logical argument

According to Logic, an argument is the set of premises to which a conclusion follows. In this sense, the conclusion would be the logical consequence of the premises, and only when presented in this way will it be solid and valid and, indeed, convincing, persuasive.

Deductive argument

A deductive argument is one whose premises contain the conclusion. The deductive argument proposes a premise that raises a general reasoning and from there draws a particular conclusion.

An example of a deductive argument would be the following: “All men are mortal. Juan is a man. Therefore, Juan is mortal ”.

Inductive argument

In this type of argument, the premises contain particular properties that are repeated in a certain number of subjects, objects or events, the product of direct observation. From these common properties or data, a general conclusion is drawn that encompasses both observed and unobserved cases. In this sense, the inductive argument, unlike the deductive one, goes from the particular to the general.

An example of inductive reasoning would be the following: “Raquel's car is blue, Luis's car is blue; therefore, all cars are blue. "

See also Inductive and deductive arguments

Abductive argument

It is a type of argument whose conclusion is a hypothesis that explains the premises. This form of reasoning allows new knowledge to be obtained, however, as it is a hypothesis, the conclusion may be probable but cannot be verified.

An example of an abductive argument would be: “The boy is running towards the bus stop. He is probably late for work ”.

See also Abductive argument

Argument from authority

As an authority argument is called the one that supports its reasons in the prestige of another person or institution, considered an authority on the matter. In this sense, the argument uses its words and is used regardless of resorting to other facts or reasons that support it.

An example of an authority argument would be "According to the World Bank, global extreme poverty increased in 2020 due to the pandemic."

Instantiation argument

The premises of this type of argument are based on examples. It is understood that the more examples that are described to support the idea, the stronger it will be. For this to be true, it is necessary that the examples mentioned are true and can be verified.

An example would be “Africa is the continent with the highest inflation. Zimbabwe has an inflation of 161%, Sudan has 50% and South Sudan 24% "

Argument by analogy

It is about taking two situations and comparing them to extract common elements that allow us to reach a probable conclusion. It is also known as argument by comparison or argument by contrast.

An example might be "My grandfather and father were excellent cooks. So I have cooking skills too."

Argument of causes

It is one of the types of arguments proposed by Anthony Weston. In this case, the conclusion derives from causes that explain or justify it. It is one of the arguments that we use the most in our daily lives.

An example would be "I couldn't do the shopping because I left work late and the supermarket was already closed."

Demonstrative argument

It is a reasoning that is used to explain or verify a fact. It is a type of argument widely used in the scientific field and usually contains data from previous research. It has an informative function, since the objective is to spread new knowledge.

An example of a demonstrative argument is the textual citations that we make in a school or scientific research work, since they help to validate what is wanted to be demonstrated in the research.

Factual argument

Also called a data-driven argument, it is a type of argument based on verifiable evidence. In this case, the conclusion is true because it is supported by ideas or data that can be tested. Therefore, it is irrefutable.

An example of a factual argument is to say that Mexico borders the United States to the north.

You may be interested in delving into:

  • Argument types
  • Examples of arguments

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