Introduction

An argument is a conclusion derived from applying adopted rules to determined facts relevant to resolve a specific issue in order to accomplish a goal.  

There are a number of components to this definition:

1.     Your Goal in making the argument

2.    The issue at hand

3.      Your Adopted Rules

4.      Your Determined Facts

5.    Your Conclusion

 

Arguments can be mind numbingly layered, because each of the above components is itself a Conclusion that rests upon other determined facts and conclusions.  

For example: 

I assert that If you drink the contents of this bottle - you will die.  This is my conclusion.

This Bottle contains Bleach.  - This is an determined fact.

Bleach is a poison - This is a determined fact.

Poisons can kill you - This is an adopted rule.

The Determined Fact that “This Bottle contains Bleach” is also a conclusion. How do I know the bottle contains bleach?  What facts do I rely upon to determine that it does, in fact, contain bleach?  The Label? The smell? Someone’s say so?  When analyzing arguments, it is important to understand that each conclusion rests upon other conclusions.  

 

Challenging arguments is the task of identifying those conclusions which are vulnerable to attack.