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Time, Self and Mind

Logic Interlude
Analysing and evaluating arguments
Dr Sam Butchart
Overview
1. Arguments, premises and conclusions
2. Basics of argument evaluation
3. Deductive validity
4. Inductive strength

Arguments
The reasons given in support of the claim are called premises.

The claim the premises are supposed to support is called the
conclusion of the argument.

Premises and conclusions are statements claims which
could be true or false.

An argument consists of a claim (a
statement), along with one or more
reasons for thinking that the statement
is true.

Arguments
A claim
Religious people tend to live longer and have healthier
lives than people who are not religious.


This is just a claim or statement. It is not an
argument.

Arguments
An argument
Religious people tend to live longer and have healthier
lives than people who are not religious. Evidence for
this comes from a study carried out in the US in 1998
which compared the health records of 50 people who
attended church regularly with 50 people who did
not. The study found that on average, the religious
group lived an extra 5 years.

Arguments
The conclusion
Religious people tend to live longer and have healthier
lives than people who are not religious. Evidence for
this comes from a study carried out in the US in 1998
which compared the health records of 50 people who
attended church regularly with 50 people who did
not. The study found that on average, the religious
group lived an extra 5 years.

Arguments
The premises
Religious people tend to live longer and have healthier
lives than people who are not religious. Evidence for
this comes from a study carried out in the US in 1998
which compared the health records of 50 people who
attended church regularly with 50 people who did
not. The study found that on average, the religious
group lived an extra 5 years.

Arguments
Signposting: a premise indicator phrase
Religious people tend to live longer and have healthier
lives than people who are not religious. Evidence for
this comes from a study carried out in the US in 1998
which compared the health records of 50 people who
attended church regularly with 50 people who did
not. The study found that on average, the religious
group lived an extra 5 years.

Arguments
An outline of the argument in standard form

1. A study carried out in the US in 1998 compared the health
records of 50 people who attended church regularly with 50 people
who did not.
2. The study found that on average, the religious group lived an
extra 5 years.
Therefore:
C. Religious people tend to live longer and have healthier lives than
people who are not religious.

Note that each statement is labelled and rewritten if necessary to
make a complete sentence.

Overview
1. Arguments, premises and conclusions
2. Basics of argument evaluation
3. Deductive validity
4. Inductive strength

Argument evaluation
The purpose of an argument is to provide
reasons for thinking that the conclusion is
true.


An argument is successful (sound, cogent) if it
succeeds in providing good reasons for accepting the
conclusion.

Two essential criteria for a sound argument:

1. The premises should all be true
2. The conclusion should follow from the premises.
Argument evaluation
To say that the conclusion follows from the
premises is to make a conditional claim:
IF the premises are all true, they would provide a
good reason for thinking that the conclusion is also
true.
If the conclusion follows from the premises, we can
also say that the premises support, entail or imply the
conclusion.
We will see that there are two main kinds of
support: deductive and inductive.

Argument evaluation
An argument is successful (sound, cogent) if it
satisfies both of these criteria:

1. The premises should all be true
2. The conclusion should follow from the premises

These are independent criteria. An argument can satisfy
one but not the other.
Argument evaluation
(1) All tigers are mammals. All mammals are
carnivores. Therefore, all tigers are carnivores.
Premises all true?
Conclusion follows?
(2) Penguins are birds and all birds lay eggs.
Therefore, penguins lay eggs.
Premises all true?
Conclusion follows?
(3) All roses are flowers. Some flowers are red.
Therefore, all roses are red.
Premises all true?
Conclusion follows?
Argument evaluation
(1) All tigers are mammals. All mammals are
carnivores. Therefore, all tigers are carnivores.
Premises all true? Not cogent
Conclusion follows?
(2) Penguins are birds and all birds lay eggs.
Therefore, penguins lay eggs.
Premises all true?
Conclusion follows?
(3) All roses are flowers. Some flowers are red.
Therefore, all roses are red.
Premises all true?
Conclusion follows?
Argument evaluation
(1) All tigers are mammals. All mammals are
carnivores. Therefore, all tigers are carnivores.
Premises all true? Not cogent
Conclusion follows?
(2) Penguins are birds and all birds lay eggs.
Therefore, penguins lay eggs.
Premises all true?
Conclusion follows? Cogent!
(3) All roses are flowers. Some flowers are red.
Therefore, all roses are red.
Premises all true?
Conclusion follows?
Argument evaluation
(1) All tigers are mammals. All mammals are
carnivores. Therefore, all tigers are carnivores.
Premises all true? Not cogent
Conclusion follows?
(2) Penguins are birds and all birds lay eggs.
Therefore, penguins lay eggs.
Premises all true?
Conclusion follows? Cogent!
(3) All roses are flowers. Some flowers are red.
Therefore, all roses are red.
Premises all true?
Conclusion follows? Not cogent
Argument evaluation
Quiz question

True or false?

If the conclusion of an argument is true, the
argument is cogent.

Argument evaluation
Quiz question

True or false?

If the conclusion of an argument is true, the
argument is cogent.

This is false. It is possible to have a BAD
argument for a TRUE conclusion. For example:

All tigers are mammals. All mammals are
carnivores. Therefore, all tigers are carnivores.
Argument evaluation
Another example

Roses are flowers. Some flowers are red.
Therefore, some roses are red.

Argument evaluation
Another example

Roses are flowers. Some flowers are red.
Therefore, some roses are red.

The conclusion is true and so are all the premises.
But this is not a cogent argument because the
conclusion does not follow from the premises.

Take home message: Evaluate the argument, not
the conclusion.
Overview
1. Arguments, premises and conclusions
2. Basics of argument evaluation
3. Deductive validity
4. Inductive strength

Deductive validity
In some arguments, it is impossible for the premises to be true
and the conclusion false:

Whoever the guilty person is they are left-handed. Miss
Green is not left handed. Therefore, she is not guilty.
All tigers are mammals. All mammals are carnivores.
Therefore, all tigers are carnivores.
All birds lays eggs. Penguins are birds. Therefore, penguins
lay eggs.

Arguments like this are called deductively valid. This is the
strongest possible kind of support premises can give to a
conclusion.

Deductive validity
Definition: An argument is deductively valid if it is
logically impossible for all the premises to be true and the
conclusion false.
Another way of putting it:
An argument is deductively valid if the premises are
inconsistent with the denial of the conclusion.
Deductive validity
Definition: An argument is deductively valid if it is
logically impossible for all the premises to be true and the
conclusion false.
Another way of putting it:
An argument is deductively valid if the premises are
inconsistent with the denial of the conclusion.
A valid argument
All birds lays eggs. Penguins
are birds. Therefore,
penguins lay eggs.
Inconsistent statements
All birds lays eggs. Penguins
are birds. Penguins do not
lay eggs.
Deductively valid forms
(1) If Joe lives in Melbourne, he lives in Victoria. But Joe does not live in
Victoria. So Joe does not live in Melbourne.
(2) If Miss Green is the murderer, she would have to be left-handed. But
she is not left-handed, so she cannot be the murderer.
(3) To pass this course, you must complete all the assignments. But you
have not completed all the assignments. Therefore, you will not pass the
course.
(4) Luke will be late for his meeting if he misses his plane. But he was not
late for his meeting, so he cannot have missed his plane.

All of these arguments are essentially the same. They are examples of a
deductively valid pattern or form of argument:



1. If A then B
2. B is not true
Therefore:
C. A is not true
Deductively valid forms
1. If Joe lives in Melbourne then he lives in Victoria.
2. Joe does not live in Victoria.
Therefore:
C. Joe does not live in Melbourne.




1. If A then B
2. B is not true
Therefore:
C. A is not true
Deductively valid forms
1. If Miss Green is the murderer then she is left handed.
2. Miss Green is not left handed
Therefore:
C. Miss Green is not the murderer




1. If A then B
2. B is not true
Therefore:
C. A is not true
Deductively valid forms
To pass this course, you must complete all the assignments. But you have not
completed all the assignments. Therefore, you will not pass the course.

1. If you passed the course then you completed all the assignments
2. You did not complete all the assignments
Therefore:
C. You did not pass the course




1. If A then B
2. B is not true
Therefore:
C. A is not true
Deductively valid forms
Luke will be late for his meeting if he misses his plane. But he was not late for his
meeting, so he cannot have missed his plane.

1. If Luke missed his plane then he will be late for his meeting.
2. Like was not late for his meeting
Therefore:
C. Luke did not miss his plane



1. If A then B
2. B is not true
Therefore:
C. A is not true
Deductively valid forms
This valid form of argument is called modus tollens

1. If A then B
2. B is not true
Therefore:
C. A is not true

No matter what A and B stand for, no argument of this form
has true premises and a false conclusion. So the form is valid.





Deductively valid forms
Compare modus tollens to the following form, called denying the antecedent:

1. If A then B
2. A is not true
Therefore:
C. B is not true

This is not a valid form. There are examples with true premises and a false
conclusion. Example:

1. If Miranda lives in Melbourne then she lives in Victoria.
2. Miranda does not live in Melbourne.
Therefore
C. Miranda does not live in Victoria.






Deductively valid forms
Compare modus tollens to the following form, called denying the antecedent:

1. If A then B
2. A is not true
Therefore:
C. B is not true

This is not a valid form. There are examples with true premises and a false
conclusion. Example:

1. If Miranda lives in Melbourne then she lives in Victoria.
2. Miranda does not live in Melbourne.
Therefore
C. Miranda does not live in Victoria.
If Miranda lives in Geelong (for example), the premises would be true but
the conclusion false.







Deductively valid forms
Modus ponens
If A then B. A is true. Therefore, B is true.
If its raining, the party will be cancelled. It is raining. So the party will be
cancelled.

Universal modus ponens
All A are B / If something is A then it is B. x is an A. Therefore, x is a
B.
All Australians drink beer. Sam is an Australian. Therefore Sam drinks
beer.
No drummer is a real musician. Pete is a drummer. Therefore Pete is not a
real musician.





Deductively valid forms
Modus tollens
If A then B. B is not true. Therefore, A is not true
If Luke misses his plane, he will be late for his meeting. But he was not
late for his meeting, so he did not miss his plane.

Universal modus tollens
All A are B / If something is A then it is B. x is not B. Therefore, x is
not A.
All Australians drink beer. Sam does not drink beer. Therefore, Sam is not
Australian.
No drummer is a real musician. Pete is a real musician. Therefore, Pete is
not a drummer.





Two common invalid forms
Affirming the consequent
If A then B. B is true. Therefore, A is true.
If it is raining, the party will be cancelled. The party was
cancelled. Therefore, it is raining.

Denying the antecedent
If A then B. A is not true. Therefore, B is not true.
If Sue drank too much last night, she will have a headache
this morning. But she didnt drink too much, so she
doesnt have a headache this morning.





Deductively valid forms
Disjunctive syllogism
Either A or B. A is not true. Therefore, B is true.
That tree is either an oak or a sycamore. Its not an
oak. So it must be a sycamore.

Either A or B. B is not true. Therefore, A is true.
The murderer is either Miss Green or Mr Brown. Its
not Mr Brown. Therefore, the murderer is Miss
Green.




Deductively valid forms
Disjunctive syllogism
Either A or B or C or D B is not true, C is not
true, D is not true Therefore, A is true.

How often have I said to you that when you have
eliminated the impossible, whatever remains,
however improbable, must be the truth?
Sherlock Holmes
The Sign of the Four




Deductively valid forms
Hypothetical syllogism
If A then B. If B then C. Therefore, if A then C.
If it rains tomorrow, the party will be cancelled. If
the party is cancelled, you wont see John this week.
So if it rains tomorrow, you wont see John this
week.
All A are B. All B are C. Therefore, All A are C.
All leopards are mammals. All mammals are suckle
their young with milk. Therefore: all leopards
suckle their young with milk.




Deductively valid forms
Hypothetical syllogism
If A then B. If B then C. If C then D . If X then
Y. If Y then Z. Therefore, if A then Z.


Deductively valid
Quiz question

True or false?

If all the premises of an argument are true and the
conclusion is false, the argument is not deductively
valid.

Deductively valid
Quiz question

True

If all the premises of an argument are true and the
conclusion is false, the argument is not deductively
valid.

In a deductively valid argument it is impossible for
the premises to all be true and the conclusion false.

Deductively valid
Quiz question

True or false?

A deductively valid argument can have all false
premises and a true conclusion.

Deductively valid
Quiz question

True!

A deductively valid argument can have all false
premises and a true conclusion.

Example:
1. All Australians drink beer (False)
2. Homer is an Australian (False)
Therefore:
C. Homer drinks beer (True)

Deductively valid
Quiz question

True!

A deductively valid argument can have all false
premises and a true conclusion.

Example:
1. All Australians drink beer (False)
2. Sam B. is an Australian (False)
Therefore:
C. Sam B. drinks beer (True)

Which of the following arguments is an example of the valid pattern modus tollens:
If A then B. B is not true. Therefore, A is not true.
1. If Greece defaults on its loans, that will make it much harder for the
government to borrow money. And if that happens, it will not be able to
afford to run public services. So if Greece defaults on its loans, public
services will have to be shut down.
2. If speed cameras actually prevented traffic accidents, they would be
justified. But there is no evidence they prevent traffic accidents, so they
are not justified.
3. The brake lights on my car have stopped working. The problem is either
with the fuses or the light globes. Ive inspected the fuses and they are
fine, so the globes must have blown.
4. If carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is causing global warming, then we
should expect to see temperatures increasing steadily over the last 100
years. But temperatures have not increased steadily over that period, so it
cannot be carbon dioxide that is causing global warming.
Which of the following arguments is an example of the valid pattern modus tollens:
If A then B. B is not true. Therefore, A is not true.
1. If Greece defaults on its loans, that will make it much harder for the
government to borrow money. And if that happens, it will not be able to
afford to run public services. So if Greece defaults on its loans, public
services will have to be shut down.
2. If speed cameras actually prevented traffic accidents, they would be
justified. But there is no evidence they prevent traffic accidents, so they
are not justified.
3. The brake lights on my car have stopped working. The problem is either
with the fuses or the light globes. Ive inspected the fuses and they are
fine, so the globes must have blown.
4. If carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is causing global warming, then we
should expect to see temperatures increasing steadily over the last 100
years. But temperatures have not increased steadily over that period, so it
cannot be carbon dioxide that is causing global warming.
Overview
1. Arguments, premises and conclusions
2. Basics of argument evaluation
3. Deductive validity
4. Inductive strength

Inductive forms of argument
Deductively validity is not the only kind of support premises
can provide for a conclusion.

Sometimes the premises of an argument might give us a good
reason to accept the conclusion as true, even though it is
logically possible that the premises are true and the conclusion
false.








Definition: An argument is inductively strong or inductively
valid if it is very unlikely that all the premises are true and the
conclusion false.
Inductive forms of argument
1. Thermometer-based measurements of sea and air temperatures have recorded
an average increase of 0.65 degrees centigrade over the last 130 years.
2. Global sea-levels have risen by about 4 14 cm over the last 100 years.
3. Satellite images show that both Arctic and Antarctic sea ice is melting and that
the Greenland ice-sheet is receding.
4. There has been an increased incidence of storms and floods.
5. British birds nest 8-16 days earlier than 30 years ago.
6. Insect species including bees and termites that need warm weather to
survive are moving northward.
Therefore:
C. Global temperatures are increasing.
Source: Mark Maslin, Global Warming: a very short introduction.
Although it is possible that all these premises are all true, but global
temperatures are not increasing, the combined weight of all this evidence
makes it quite unlikely.
Inductive forms of argument
Unlike deductive validity, inductive strength comes in
degrees:
1. 55% of nurses are
women.
2. Anderson is a nurse.
Therefore:
C. Anderson is a
woman.
1. 99% of nurses are
women.
2. Anderson is a nurse.
Therefore:
C. Anderson is a
woman.
WEAK STRONG
Inductive forms of argument
Three common forms of inductive argument:
1. Inference from a proportion
2. Inference from a sample
3. Inference to the best explanation





Inference from a proportion
1. X% of A are B
2. o is A
Therefore:
C. o is B
92% of nurses are women. The guilty person is a nurse, so the
guilty person is probably a woman.

Questions for evaluation
Is the percentage greater than 50%?
Has all the information about o been included? Are there
other relevant facts about o that might cast doubt on the
conclusion?








Inference from a sample
1. X% of a sample of individuals from a certain population are A
2. The sample is representative of that population
Therefore:
C. X% of individuals in the population are A.

A random sample of 50 iPads was selected from the production line of this factory. 10 of
them were found to be faulty. So probably, about 20% of the iPads made at this factory are
faulty.
According to a Gallup poll conducted in 2006, only 33% of Americans approve of the
presidents overall job performance. This poll was based on telephone interviews with 1,000
adults.
In numerous experiments, scientists have measured the half-life of samples of the radioactive
isotope Carbon-14. These measurements have established that the half-life of Carbon-14 is
approximately 5,568 years.





No, I wont go with you to Cirque dSoleil. Every time Ive been to a circus, Ive
hated it.
Every swan ever seen has been white. Therefore, all swans are white.

Inference from a sample
1. X% of a sample of individuals from a certain population are A
2. The sample is representative of that population
Therefore:
C. X% of individuals in the population are A.

Questions for evaluation
1. How large is the sample?
2. Are there reasons for thinking the sample could be biased, unrepresentative
or atypical in some way?
3. Could the way A was measured introduce bias?




Inference to the best explanation
1. If H was true it would explain why D is true.
2. H is the best or most plausible explanation of D.
Therefore:
C. H is true.

The global warming hypothesis explains why the polar ice caps are melting,
sea levels are rising, bird migration patterns are changing . No other
hypothesis explains these facts as well. Therefore, the global warming
hypothesis is true.

I came home to find the front door hanging off its hinges, all the drawers
emptied, the TV and computer missing. I guess weve had break in.







Inference to the best explanation
1. If H was true it would explain why D is true.
2. H is the best or most plausible explanation of D.
Therefore:
C. H is true.

Questions for evaluation
1. Is D actually true?
2. Are there plausible or possible alternative explanations of D? Have these
alternative explanations been ruled out?
3. How plausible is H? How consistent is it with other well established
facts? (The more initially implausible H is, the stronger the evidence has to
be for it to be acceptable).






Inductive forms of argument
The governments economic stimulus program is clearly
working to reduce unemployment. Since its introduction, the
unemployment rate has fallen by 15%.

Which of the three inductive forms fit the above argument
most closely?
(A) Inference from a proportion
(B) Inference from a sample
(C) Inference to the best explanation





Inductive forms of argument
The governments economic stimulus program is clearly
working to reduce unemployment. Since its introduction, the
unemployment rate has fallen by 15%.

Which of the three inductive forms fit the above argument
most closely?
(A) Inference from a proportion
(B) Inference from a sample
(C) Inference to the best explanation -- CORRECT

Is the argument inductively strong?









Inductive forms of argument
95% of teenagers with behavioural problems play violent
video games at home. Robert Smith plays violent video games
at home so it is quite likely that he has behavioural problems.

Which of the three inductive forms fit the above argument
most closely?
(A) Inference from a proportion
(B) Inference from a sample
(C) Inference to the best explanation









Inductive forms of argument
95% of teenagers with behavioural problems play violent
video games at home. Robert Smith plays violent video games
at home so it is quite likely that he has behavioural problems.

Which of the three inductive forms fit the above argument
most closely?
(A) Inference from a proportion -- CORRECT
(B) Inference from a sample
(C) Inference to the best explanation

Is the argument inductively strong?









Inductive forms of argument
95% of teenagers with behavioural problems play violent
video games at home. Robert Smith plays violent video games
at home so it is quite likely that he has behavioural problems.

The argument is not inductively strong it has the wrong
form:










1. 95% of A are B
2. o is B
Therefore
3. o is A

Inductive forms of argument
95% of teenagers with behavioural problems play violent
video games at home. Robert Smith plays violent video games
at home so it is quite likely that he has behavioural problems.

The argument is not inductively strong it has the wrong
form:










1. 95% of A are B
2. o is B
Therefore
3. o is A

The correct, valid form is:
1. 95% of A are B
2. o is A
Therefore
3. o is B

Inductive forms of argument
95% of teenagers with behavioural problems play violent
video games at home. Robert Smith plays violent video games
at home so it is quite likely that he has behavioural problems.

The argument is not inductively strong it has the wrong
form:










1. 95% of A are B
2. o is B
Therefore
3. o is A

This example is clearly invalid:
1. 95% of nurses are women
2. Sheila is a woman
Therefore:
C. Sheila is a nurse

Inductive forms of argument






Dr. Dufus: So, as you can see from
this graph, since the late 1990s the
incidence of autism in children
has increased in line with sales of
organic foods. Its clear then that
eating organic foods can cause
autism.

Which of the three inductive forms fit the above argument
most closely?
(A) Inference from a proportion
(B) Inference from a sample
(C) Inference to the best explanation

Inductive forms of argument






Dr. Dufus: So, as you can see from
this graph, since the late 1990s the
incidence of autism in children
has increased in line with sales of
organic foods. Its clear then that
eating organic foods can cause
autism.

Which of the three inductive forms fit the above argument
most closely?
(A) Inference from a proportion
(B) Inference from a sample
(C) Inference to the best explanation Correct
Is the argument inductively strong?