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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?

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