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The Llewellyn Encyclopedia

Term: philosophical argument

DEFINITIONS

Philosophical Argument:

A means to determine the answer of a question. It uses a series of statements, known as premises, that are interrelated thought an accepted set of rules, known as formal logic, leading to a determination as to the validity or falseness of a question, known as the conclusion.

 

Example

Question: Is Socrates mortal?

Premises: All men are mortal.

            Socrates is a man.

Conversion to symbols: Men=X

                               Mortal=Y

                               Socrates=Z

                               “is” is represented by the =

So the Question can be expressed: Does Z=Y?

The premises can be expressed: X=Y and X=Z

The logical rule of syllogism allows us to infer that Z=Y

Conversion back to words: Socrates is mortal

 

Note that if any of the premises are false, the conclusion is logically false. However, even if the conclusions is logically false, it’s possible for the conclusion to be objectively true. For example, assume one of the premises in the above argument is that “Rover is a man.” However, Rover is actually a dog. Therefore, the premise is false and the conclusion is also logically flase. However, the conclusion is objectively true. Finally, even if the premises are accurate, if the numerous logical rules are applied incorrectly, the result can also be false.

 

It should be noted that a philosophical or logical argument is not the same as two or more people arguing over an idea or belief as such arguments rarely rely on the rules of formal logic and are often tinged or even overpowered with animosity.

Donad Michael Kraig


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