Arguments, Premises And Conclusions

Reading Assignment: 1.1 (pp. 1-7)

Click here to bypass the following discussion and go straight to the assignments.

Logic is the science that evaluates arguments.

An argument is a group of statements including one or more premises and one and only one conclusion.

A statement is a sentence that is either true or false, such as "The cat is on the mat." Many sentences are not statements, such as "Close the door, please" , "How old are you?"

A premise is a statement in an argument that provides reason or support for the conclusion. There can be one or many premises in a single argument.

A conclusion is a statement in an argument that indicates of what the arguer is trying to convince the reader/listener. What is the argument trying to prove? There can be only one conclusion in a single argument.

In this lesson you will need to be able to distinguish premises and conclusions :

The foolproof way to do this is to ask yourself what the author of the argument is trying to get you to believe. The answer to this question is the conclusion .

There must also be at least one reason and possibly many. These are your premises .

Your common sense will be of great help here.

You should also study very carefully the lists of premise and conclusion indicator words on page 3 in the text. There will not always be indicator words, though more often than not there are. You should note as well that the conclusion can often be identified as the statement directly before a premise indicator. Remember that these are general rules only. Think of indicator words as "red flags." They are positioned in the argument to signal the author's intent, but always check yourself by asking what's being proven, and what the proof is.

When you feel confident that you have mastered these concepts, do the True/False exercise on p. 13 in the textbook. (section IV) You can check your answers in the appendix of this study guide.

Then do exercises 1.1 I 1-22 on your Logic Coach Software. If you need more practice, feel free to do more. If you use up all the exercises in section I, you may do problems from II and send the answers to me to get checked (this section of the text isn't on Logic Coach) 

When you are ready, complete the following assignments, using the book as little as possible. Hand in both of the following assignments together with a copy of your logic coach record screen. For more detailed instructions on doing this click here .

ASSIGNMENT 1:

Rewrite the following arguments listing the premise (s) first and the conclusion last. Each line should be a single statement written as a complete sentence. Feel free to modify the sentences as you deem necessary, without changing their basic meaning. (after all you want to be restating this argument, not writing a new one!) Label the premise(s) P¹, P², P³, etc. and the conclusion C. Leave out any indicator words and any fluff (i.e., sentences which are neither the conclusion nor a premise). 10 points each.

Cats with long hair shed all over the house so you should not get a long-haired cat.

I have heard that they also have lots of fleas.

1. Fairdale will win the championship because they have the best team. 2. Since the housing market is depressed and interest rates are low, it's a good time to buy a home. 3. China is guilty of extreme human rights abuses. Further, they refuse to implement democratic reforms. Thus, the U.S. should refuse to deal with the present Chinese government. 4. The revocation of the 55 mph speed limit has resulted in an increased number of auto fatalities. We must alleviate this problem with stricter speed limit enforcement. 5. We may infer that the U. S. military is both capable and competent from the results of the Persian Gulf War. 6. Scientific discoveries are continually debunking religious myths. Further, science provides the only hope for solving the many problems faced by humankind. Hence, science provides a more accurate view of human life than does religion. 7. Jesse is one year old. Most one-year-olds can walk. It follows that Jesse can walk. 8. I deserve a raise. I'm very good at my job.   ASSIGNMENT 2: Write out two arguments you have encountered in the course of your day. First write them as you encountered them, then re-write in the format you practiced in assignment 1. Make sure they are arguments, with premises and conclusions. You'll get more practice distinguishing between arguments and other passages in the next lesson. For now just make sure there is a conclusion and at least one premise and you'll do fine. (10 points each.) Home | Table of Contents | Next Assignment | Questions  

How to Identify Premises, Conclusions on the LSAT

Learn a crucial skill for logical reasoning and reading comprehension questions.

LSAT. Identifying Premises, Conclusions

College student taking test

If you want to boost your LSAT score quickly, learning to spot premises and conclusions on logical reasoning questions is an effective way. (Getty Images)

The LSAT includes three main sections: logical reasoning, reading comprehension and analytical reasoning. Each of these sections relies on specific skills or strategies. For example, the analytical reasoning section requires you to know how to set up a logic game .

And to do well on the analytical reasoning section, you’ll also need to understand common questions the LSAT asks about logic games , as well as advanced tactics tailored to specific logic game scenarios.

On the other hand, some skills are useful across multiple sections. One of the most fundamental skills LSAT takers need to master is how to divide an argument into premises and conclusions.

How to Identify Premises and Conclusions

A logical argument is a series of claims that make a point. A conclusion is the point an argument is making, and the premises are claims that support that point.

There are two main ways to find a conclusion to an argument. The simplest is to look for indicator words. Words that indicate a premise include "because," "since" and "for ." Words that indicate a conclusion include "therefore," "thus" and "consequently."

However, some words and phrases can indicate either a premise or a conclusion depending on the context, like "but," "although," "yet," "however," "nevertheless" and "after all."

Some premises and conclusions don’t start with an indicator word at all. Writing would be clunky and repetitive if writers had to signal every point they made. Instead, indicator words are used judiciously to add clarity or emphasis.

Be careful. Indicator words may lead you to a conclusion that is not necessarily the main point of the argument.

For example, consider the following argument: "Don’t play with your pet turtle in the snow. Turtles are reptiles. Reptiles are cold-blooded, therefore so are turtles."

This argument has two clear premises: Turtles are reptiles and reptiles are cold-blooded. The claim that turtles are cold-blooded is a conclusion that follows from these premises, as indicated by the word "therefore."

But notice that the argument doesn’t end there, even though it is the end of the paragraph. The author’s conclusion that turtles are cold-blooded is just a step toward the author’s main point, stated in the first sentence: Don’t play with your pet turtle in the snow.

If all that you took away from the argument is that turtles are cold-blooded, you would have missed the author’s main point. That would be upsetting for both the author and your poor turtle.

This leads to the second, more abstract way to identify a conclusion: Think about the argument’s ultimate claim, which the other claims are meant to support.

If you identify two conclusions in an argument, decide which one supports the other one. Try to imagine which conclusion would make more sense after the word "because." In this case, “Don’t play with your pet turtle in the snow because turtles are cold-blooded” makes more sense than “Turtles are cold-blooded because you shouldn’t play with your pet turtle in the snow.”

This test will help you distinguish a subconclusion from the author’s main point.

Using Premises and Conclusions Knowledge on the LSAT

The LSAT may ask you to do a range of things with an argument in both the logical reasoning and reading comprehension sections. You may have to strengthen, weaken or find hidden assumptions or flaws in an argument ; compare the argument to other arguments; or explain how the argument works.

In all these cases, you will need to find the argument’s premises and conclusions.

Let’s take a new sample argument: "Law school applicants can learn a lot from U.S. News’ Law Admissions Lowdown. It is one of the best blogs about law school admissions, enjoyed by tens of thousands of readers."

What’s the conclusion? Law school applicants can learn a lot from U.S. News’ Law Admissions Lowdown. What’s the premise? It is one of the best blogs about law school admissions.

What about the other claim, that the blog is "enjoyed by tens of thousands of readers"? This might be considered supporting evidence, helpful but not necessary to the conclusion.

Now, imagine an LSAT question that asked you for an assumption that the argument depends upon. In this case, you need to find an unstated premise that connects the other premise to the conclusion: Law school applicants can learn a lot from one of the best blogs about law school admissions.

If an argument in the logical reasoning section seems to lack a conclusion, don’t panic. The question may ask you to draw your own conclusion by asking “what must be true” based on the prompt.

Learning to spot premises and conclusions on logical reasoning questions quickly and flawlessly is one of the best things you can do to boost your LSAT score in a short time . While tricky at first, with focused and rigorous practice, it will become second nature.

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About Law Admissions Lowdown

Law Admissions Lowdown provides advice to prospective students about the law school application process, LSAT prep and potential career paths. Previously authored by contributors from Stratus Admissions Counseling, the blog is currently authored by Gabriel Kuris, founder of Top Law Coach , an admissions consultancy. Kuris is a graduate of Harvard Law School and has helped hundreds of applicants navigate the law school application process since 2003. Got a question? Email [email protected] .

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Premise & Conclusion

Premise & conclusion.

They are the constitutive elements of an argument.  They are also the definition of an argument. An argument is nothing more than just a premise plus a conclusion.

So, let’s take a closer look at what "premise" and "conclusion" actually entail.

These are the four things you really need to remember about premise and conclusion.

1. How to recognize them

First of all you have to know how to recognize them.  This is tactically very important. When you’re actually doing the LSAT and you have to figure out whether the argument is good or bad, you better be able to tell premises apart from conclusions fast.  Otherwise you won't even know what the argument is.  We'll cover this in a later lesson.

2. Support is the relationship

We've covered this in a previous lesson, but remember that support is the relationship between the premise and the conclusion.

3. Definition of premise

The definition of premise is " a sentence that supports another sentence ."  It's not hard to remember, but, in order for you to internalize the definition, in order for these words to mean something to you, that might take some time.  For some of you, I’m sure this is all very old news, but for others, it might take some time.  It’s not hard.  A sentence that supports another sentence.  But, what’s this mysterious “other sentence?”

4. Definition of conclusion

It's the conclusion.  The definition of conclusion is “ a sentence that is supported by another sentence ." Similarly here, what’s the “other sentence?”  It’s the premise!

Is it all coming together now?  A premise is a premise only in so far as it supports another sentence.  A conclusion is a conclusion only in so far as it is supported by another sentence. So really, they define each other.  The definitions are dependent on each other.  That shouldn't be surprising because after all, these two ideas – premise and conclusion – they exist in a relationship where one supports the other and the other is supported by the first.

As you get more and more advanced with evaluating arguments, you'll come to see that all the weakening questions, all the strengthening questions and all the Logical Reasoning questions on the LSAT really just gets to the root of the idea of "support." Do you really know what it means for one idea to support another idea?

Learn about our LSAT Prep courses .

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What is a Good Argument?

  4. Identifying Premises and Conclusions

4. identifying premises and conclusions.

Argument analysis would be a lot easier if people gave their arguments in standard form, with the premises and conclusions flagged in an obvious way.

But people don’t usually talk this way, or write this way. Sometimes the conclusion of an argument is obvious, but sometimes it’s not. Sometimes the conclusion is buried or implicit and we have to reconstruct the argument based on what’s given, and it’s not always obvious how to do this.

In this lecture we’re going to look at some principles that will help us identify premises and conclusions and put natural language arguments in standard form. This is a very important critical thinking skill.

Here’s an argument:

“Abortion is wrong because all human life is sacred.”

Question: which is the conclusion?

“Abortion is wrong” ?

“All human life is sacred” ?

For most of us the answer is clear. “ Abortion is wrong” is the conclusion , and “ All human life is sacred” is the premise .

How did we know this? Well, two things are going on.

First, we’re consciously, intentionally, reading for the argument , and when we do this we’re asking ourselves, “what claim are we being asked to believe or accept, and what other claims are being offered as reasons to accept that claim?”.

Second, we recognize the logical significance of the word “because” . “Because” is what we call an indicator word , a word that indicates the logical relationship of claims that come before it or after it. In this case it indicates that the claim following it is being offered as a reason to accept the claim before it.

So, rewriting this argument in standard form, it looks like this ...

1. All human life is sacred. Therefore, abortion is wrong.

At this point we could start talking about whether this is a good argument or not, but that’s not really our concern right now. Right now we’re more concerned with identifying premises and conclusions and getting the logical structure of an argument right.

Here are some key words or phrases that indicate a CONCLUSION :

therefore, so, hence, thus, it follows that, as a result, consequently ,

and of course there are others.

This argument gives an example using “so”:

It’s flu season and you work with kids, SO you should get a flu shot.

Now, keywords like these make it much easier to identify conclusions, but not all arguments have keywords that flag the conclusion. Some arguments have no indicator words of any kind. In these cases you have to rely on your ability to analyze context and read for the argument.

Here’s a more complex argument that illustrates this point:

"We must reduce the amount of money we spend on space exploration. Right now, the enemy is launching a massive military buildup, and we need the additional money to purchase military equipment to match the anticipated increase in the enemy’s strength."

Notice that there are no indicator words that might help us flag the conclusion.

So, which claim is the conclusion of this argument?

“We must reduce the amount of money we spend on space exploration.” ?

“The enemy is launching a massive military buildup” ?

Or is it ...

“We need the additional money to purchase military equipment to match the anticipated increase in the enemy’s strength” ?

The answer is ...

“We must reduce the amount of money we spend on space exploration.”

Most people can see this just by looking at the argument for a few seconds, but from experience I know that some people have a harder time seeing logical relationships like this.

If it’s not obvious, the way to work the problem is this: for each claim asserted in the argument you have to ask yourself,

“Is this the main point that the arguer is trying to convey?”

“Is this a claim that is being offered as a reason to believe another claim?”

If it’s being offered as a reason to believe another claim, then it’s functioning as a premise . If it’s expressing the main point of the argument, what the argument is trying to persuade you to accept, then it’s the conclusion.

There are words and phrases that indicate premises too. Here are a few:

since, if, because, from which it follows, for these reasons,

And here’s an example that uses “since”:

"John will probably receive the next promotion SINCE he’s been here the longest."

“Since” is used to indicate that John’s being here the longest is a reason for thinking that he will probably receive the next promotion.

So, let’s summarize:

a conclusion premise

Reasoning for the Digital Age

How to fool and be fooled, arguments, premises, and conclusions, defining an argument.

Argument: vas is das? For most of us when we hear the word ‘argument’ we think of something we’d rather avoid.  As it is commonly understood, an argument involves some sort of unpleasant confrontation (well, maybe not always unpleasant–it can feel pretty good when you win!).  While this is one notion of ‘argument,’ it’s (generally) not what the term refers to in philosophy.

In philosophy, by  argument  we mean a set of reasons offered in support of a claim. An argument, in this narrower sense, also implies some sort of structure.  For now we’ll ignore the structural aspects and focus on the two primary elements that make up an argument: premises and conclusions.

Let’s talk about conclusions first because their definition is pretty simple.  A conclusion  is the final claim that is supported with evidence and reasons.  We can also think of it as the claim that the arguer is trying to get the audience to believe. The relationship between premises and conclusions is important.  Premises are reasons and evidence that support the conclusion.  In a good argument, we say that a conclusion follows from the premises . Let’s consider a simple example:

Claim: Plato drinks beer. Premise 1: All philosophers drink beer. Premise 2:  Plato is a philosopher. Conclusion:  Therefore, Plato drinks beer.

Notice that so long as we accept Premise 1 and Premise 2 as true, then we must also accept the conclusion.  This is what we mean by “the conclusion ‘follows’ from the premises.”

Let’s examine premises a little more closely. A premise  is any reason or evidence that supports the argument’s conclusion. In the context of arguments we can use ‘reasons’, ‘evidence’, and ‘premises’ interchangeably.

Let’s look at another example:

Claim: Dogs are better pets than cats. (P1) Dogs are generally more affectionate than cats and (P2) Dogs are more responsive to their owners’ commands than cats. From my two premises, I infer my conclusion that (C) Dogs are better pets than cats.

Let’s return to the definition of an argument.  Notice that in the definition, I’ve said that arguments are a set  of reasons.  While this isn’t always true, generally a good argument will have more than one premise.

Heuristics for Identifying Premises and Conclusions

A heuristic is a rule of thumb. Rules of thumb don’t always work but when used in conjunction with others, they are more reliable than just guessing how to do something. In this section we’ll learn four heuristics to identify conclusions.

Identifying Conclusions: 

The easiest way to go about decomposing arguments is to first try to find the conclusion.  This is a good strategy because there is usually only one conclusion so, if we can identify it, it means the rest of the passage is made up of premises. For this reason, most of the heuristics focus on finding the conclusion.

Heuristic 1:   Look for the most controversial statement in the argument.  The conclusion will generally be the most controversial statement in the argument.  If you think about it, this makes sense.  Typically arguments proceed by moving from assertions (i.e., premises) the audience agrees with then showing how these assertions imply something that the audience might not have previously agreed with.

Heuristic 2:   The conclusion is usually a statement that takes a position on an issue.  By implication, the premises will be reasons that support the position on the issue (i.e., the conclusion).  A good way to apply this heuristic is to ask “what is the arguer trying to get me to believe?”.  The answer to this question is generally going to be the conclusion.

Heuristic 3:   The conclusion is usually (but not always) the first or last statement of the argument.

Heuristic 4:   The “because” test.  Use this method when you’re having trouble figuring which of 2 statements is the conclusion.  The “because” test helps you figure out which statement is supporting which.  Recall that the premise(s) always supports the conclusion.  This method is best explained by using an example.  Suppose you encounter an argument that goes something like this:

It’s a good idea to eat lots of amazonian jungle fruit.  It tastes delicious.  Also, lots of facebook posts say that it cures cancer.

Suppose you’re having trouble deciding what the conclusion is.  You’ve eliminated “it tastes delicious” as a candidate but you still have to choose between “it’s a good idea to eat lots of amazonian jungle fruit” and “lots of facebook posts say that it cures cancer”.  To use the ‘because’ test, read one statement after the other but insert the word “because” between the two and see what makes more sense.  Let’s try the two possibilities:

A:  It’s a good idea to eat lots of amazonian jungle fruit because lots of facebook posts say that it cures cancer. B:  Lots of facebook posts say that amazonian jungle fruit cures cancer because it’s a good idea to eat lots of it.

Which makes more sense?  Which is providing support for which? The answer is A.  Lots of facebook posts saying something is a  reason  (i.e. premise) to believe that it’s a good idea to eat amazonian jungle fruit–despite the fact that it’s not a very good reason…

Identifying the Premises

Identifying the premises once you’ve identified the conclusion is cake.  Whatever isn’t contained in the conclusion is either a premise or “filler” (i.e., not relevant to the argument).  We will explore the distinction between filler and relevant premises a bit later, so don’t worry about that distinction for now.

Example 1 Gun availability should be regulated. Put simply, if your fellow citizens have easy access to guns, they’re  more likely to kill you  than if they don’t have access. Interestingly, this turned out to be true not just for the twenty-six developed countries analyzed, but on a State-to-State level too. http://listverse.com/2013/04/21/10-arguments-for-gun-control/

Ok, lets try heuristic #1.  What’s the most controversial statement?  For most Americans, it is probably that “gun availability should be regulated.”  This is probably the conclusion.  Just for fun let’s try out the other heuristics.

Heuristic #2 says we should find a statement that takes a position on an issue.  Hmmm… the issue seems to be gun control, and “gun availability should be regulated” is taking a position.  Both heuristics converge on “gun availability should be regulated.”

Heuristic #3 says the conclusion will usually be the first or last statement.  Guess what? Same result as the other heuristics.

Heuristic #4.

A:  Gun availability should be regulated  because  people with easy access to guns are more likely to kill you. Or B:  People with easy access to guns are more likely to kill you  because  gun availability should be regulated.

A is the winner. The conclusion in this argument is well established.  It follows that what’s left over are premises (support for the conclusion):

(P1)  If your fellow citizens have easy access to guns, they’re more likely to kill you than if they don’t have access. (P2)  Studies show that P1 is true, not just for the twenty-six developed countries analyzed, but on a State-to-State level too. (C)  Gun availability should be regulated.

Let’s try another example:

Example 2 If you make gun ownership a crime, then only criminals will have guns. This means only “bad” guys would have guns, while good people would by definition be at a disadvantage. Gun control is a bad idea.

Heuristic #1:  What’s the most controversial statement? Probably “gun control is a bad idea.”

Heuristic #2: Which statement takes a position on an issue? “Gun control is a bad idea.”

Heuristic #3:  “Gun control is a bad idea” is last and also passed heuristic 1 and 2.  Probably a good bet as the conclusion.

Heuristic #4:

A: If you make gun ownership a crime, then only criminals will have guns because gun control is a bad idea. OR B: Gun control is a bad idea because if you make gun ownership a crime, then only criminals will have guns.

The winner is B, therefore, “gun control is a bad idea” is the conclusion.

All 4 heuristics point to “gun control is a bad idea” as being the conclusion therefore we can safely infer that the other statements are premises:

(P1)   If you make gun ownership a crime, then only criminals will have guns.
(P2)   This means only “bad” guys would have guns, while good people would by definition be at a disadvantage. (C)     Gun control is a bad idea.

Looking Ahead

Also, many arguments can also contain what are called ‘hidden’, ‘unstated,’ or ‘assumed’ premises. To understand the notion of a hidden premise let’s return to the argument about dogs.

(P1) Dogs are generally more affectionate than cats and (P2) Dogs are more responsive to their owners’ commands than cats. (C) Dogs are better pets than cats.

Look at (P1).  Can you find the hidden premise?  Here it is: (HP1) If a pet is more affectionate then it is a better pet than a less affectionate one.  This is an assumption that displays the values of the arguer.  (Note: hidden premises might not always be about values.)

However, there may be people who don’t value affection as a marker of being a good pet.  Maybe for some people what makes a good pet is that it is clean or self-reliant.  So, a huge part of being a good critical thinker is to look beyond the stated premises and to try to find the assumed premises.  When we do this, the task of assessing the relative strength and weaknesses of an argument’s premises (and, in turn, the argument itself) becomes much easier.

A cat lover could now counter the dog-as-better-pets argument by showing that the hidden assumption upon which the relevance of (P1) relies isn’t necessarily true, and therefore the conclusion doesn’t necessarily follow.

So, the cat lover can show that (C) (dogs are better than cats) doesn’t necessarily follow from (P1) (dogs are more affectionate than cats) because (P1) is only relevant to the conclusion if we also assume that affection-giving is a necessary determinant of being a good pet.  In other words, the dog proponent’s argument only works if we also accept their hidden assumption/premise.

However, showing that (C) doesn’t follow from (P1) doesn’t mean (C) is false, nor does it show the contrary, that cats are better pets than dogs. It only shows that “dogs are better pets than cats” can’t be established through this particular argument or at least not without further argument.

In other words, it could very well be true that dogs are better pets than cats but this argument doesn’t show it.  In order to prove that dogs are better than cats we’d need a different argument or support for the hidden premise.

This brings us to an interesting point which I’ll discuss in the next section: systems of belief, biases, and values.  When (as often happens) arguments involve values, evaluating an argument as ‘true’ or ‘false’ becomes difficult because it is an open question whether a value (that is supporting a major premise or conclusion) can be ‘right’ or ‘wrong’.

This is more a question for ethics, but as far as being good critical thinkers goes, it  is extremely important to be able to recognize when and how a premise or conclusion is ultimately supported by a value judgement, bias, or system of belief. The next post will give an overview of systems of belief, biases, and values, and their role in arguments and critical thinking.

An  argument  is a set of reasons or evidence offered in support of a claim.

A  premise  is an individual reason or piece of evidence offered in support of a conclusion.

A  conclusion  is the claim that follows from or is supported by the premise(s).

Key ideas: 1) Just because a conclusion is true, it doesn’t mean that the argument in support of the conclusion is a good one (i.e. valid).  Truth and justification are two different things! 2)  Be on the alert for hidden premises!

A. Basic Practice

(1) Identify the conclusion and premises of each of the following arguments then rewrite the argument in standard premise-conclusion form. To save time you don’t need to write full sentences, just the first three words of each sentence. (2) Explain which heuristic(s) you used identify the conclusion.

Example: (a) If you want to be in good shape you should drink beer. (b) For example, Mary drinks beer and she’s in good shape. (c) Also, Mike drinks beer and he’s also fit.

B. Critical Thinking in the “Real” World

1. Find 2 short arguments (good, bad, or ugly) from any of the following sources: (a) Comments section in social media, (b) comments section of an article, (c) part of an article. Try find arguments with no more than 3 main premises.

2. (a) Copy-pasta the argument as it appeared “in the wild” then (b) rewrite it in standard premise-conclusion form.

C. Critical Thinking About Your Life

Answer only questions 1 and 2, and be prepared to discuss them in your recitation section.

Read the following article: https://aeon.co/essays/can-students-who-are-constantly-on-their-devices-actually-learn 1. (a) Why does the author think digital technology damages critical thinking?

(b) Suggest some ways to counter these effects.

From the article:

A California State University study monitored middle-, high-school and college students who had been instructed to research something important for 15 minutes. Two minutes in, students’ focus started to wane as they checked messages, texts and various websites. The average student lasted six minutes before caving to the temptation to engage in social media. Despite being watched, students spent only approximately 65 per cent of the allotted time studying. Given that most students spend far longer than 15 minutes trying to do coursework, it’s easy to see how little gets done, and how checking messages or opening up another browser tab would be increasingly difficult to resist, especially if we tell ourselves it’s related to work or study.

In respect to this problem, at least some students seem to have some self-awareness of the problem. One student wrote:

I constantly procrastinate, leaving huge chunks of writing until the last minute, or sometimes until a few minutes past the last minute… Even now, on the last, easiest assignment, I left it until the last minute, and am still procrastinating. It’s 3 in the morning, and instead of consistently working on my portfolio, I’m watching a video review of a hammock. I’ve never even used a hammock. I have a serious problem in making myself do work, and even I’m not entirely sure why. Even when the work interests me, as [this class] does, and the work is important, I am still bizarrely capable of feeling absolutely no compulsion to work.

Suppose you want to give advice to this student. What sort of strategies and tips would you offer them to avoid distraction while they do homework and study?

3. Some people might make the following argument: If students are distracted in class, it’s the teacher’s fault. Teachers need to make the class so interesting that students will want to pay attention instead of look at their connected devices.

(a) Regardless of your own position, consider at least one way someone could reply to this argument.

(b) Consider both the original argument and your hypothetical reply from (a). Which position do you think is better justified? Defend your position with reasons and arguments.

4. Some people might make the following argument: Students or students’s families are paying for the education. Since they are paying, there’s no obligation for the student to pay attention in class. It’s no different from if I pay to download a movie. If I want to text during the movie and miss out, that’s my choice.

(a) What two activities are being compared in the argument?

(b) In what relevant ways are the activities different from each other?

(c) Construct a counter-argument by appealing to the differences between the two activities being compared.

(d) Do you agree that paying tuition removes a student’s obligation to pay attention in class? Is there any obligation for students to pay attention? Support your answer.

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a conclusion premise

Using Logic

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This resource covers using logic within writing—logical vocabulary, logical fallacies, and other types of logos-based reasoning.

Logical Vocabulary

Before using logic to reach conclusions, it is helpful to know some important vocabulary related to logic.

Premise: Proposition used as evidence in an argument. Conclusion: Logical result of the relationship between the premises. Conclusions serve as the thesis of the argument. Argument: The assertion of a conclusion based on logical premises. Syllogism: The simplest sequence of logical premises and conclusions, devised by Aristotle. Enthymeme: A shortened syllogism which omits the first premise, allowing the audience to fill it in. For example, "Socrates is mortal because he is a human" is an enthymeme which leaves out the premise "All humans are mortal." Induction: A process through which the premises provide some basis for the conclusion. Deduction: A process through which the premises provide conclusive proof for the conclusion.

Reaching Logical Conclusions

Reaching logical conclusions depends on the proper analysis of premises. The goal of a syllogism is to arrange premises so that only one true conclusion is possible.

Example A: Consider the following premises:

Premise 1: Non-renewable resources do not exist in infinite supply. Premise 2: Coal is a non-renewable resource.

From these two premises, only one logical conclusion is available:

Conclusion: Coal does not exist in infinite supply.

Example B: Often logic requires several premises to reach a conclusion.

Premise 1: All monkeys are primates. Premise 2: All primates are mammals. Premise 3: All mammals are vertebrate animals. Conclusions: Monkeys are vertebrate animals.

Example C: Logic allows specific conclusions to be drawn from general premises. Consider the following premises:

Premise 1: All squares are rectangles. Premise 2: Figure 1 is a square. Conclusion: Figure 1 is also a rectangle.

Syllogistic Fallacies

The syllogism is a helpful tool for organizing persuasive logical arguments. However, if used carelessly, syllogisms can instill a false sense of confidence in unfounded conclusions. The examples in this section demonstrate how this can happen.

Example D: Logic requires decisive statements in order to work. Therefore, this syllogism is false:

Premise 1: Some quadrilaterals are squares. Premise 2: Figure 1 is a quadrilateral. Conclusion: Figure 1 is a square.

This syllogism is false because not enough information is provided to allow a verifiable conclusion. Figure 1 could just as likely be a rectangle, which is also a quadrilateral.

Example E: Logic can also mislead when it is based on premises that an audience does not accept. For instance:

Premise 1: People with red hair are not good at checkers. Premise 2: Bill has red hair. Conclusion: Bill is not good at checkers.

Within the syllogism, the conclusion is logically valid. However, the syllogism itself is only true if an audience accepts Premise 1, which is very unlikely. This is an example of how logical statements can appear accurate while being completely false.

Example F: Logical conclusions also depend on which factors are recognized and ignored by the premises. Therefore, premises that are correct but that ignore other pertinent information can lead to incorrect conclusions.

Premise 1: All birds lay eggs. Premise 2: Platypuses lay eggs. Conclusion: Platypuses are birds.

It is true that all birds lay eggs. However, it is also true that some animals that are not birds lay eggs. These include fish, amphibians, reptiles, and a small number of mammals (like the platypus and echidna). To put this another way: laying eggs is not a defining characteristic of birds. Thus, the syllogism, which assumes that because all birds lay eggs, only  birds lay eggs, produces an incorrect conclusion.

A better syllogism might look like this:

Premise 1: All mammals have fur. Premise 2: Platypuses have fur. Conclusion: Platypuses are mammals.

Fur is indeed one of the defining characteristics of mammals —in other words, there are not non-mammal animals who also have fur. Thus, the conclusion here is more firmly-supported.

In sum, though logic is a very powerful argumentative tool and is far preferable to a disorganized argument, logic does have limitations. It must also be effectively developed from a syllogism into a written piece.

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  2. PPT

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  3. PPT

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  4. Tutorial on arguments premises-conclusions

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  5. 1.1 Arguments, Premises and Conclusions

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  6. What are Premises and Conclusions in an Argument

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  1. Conclusions

  2. Logic: Chap 2 Lesson 1 Part 2 #Distinguishing_Premise from #Conclusion

  3. Introductions and Conclusions

  4. Intermediate Conclusions

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  6. Logic: Chapter 2 Lesson 1 #Argument_Premise_Conclusion #Basic_Concepts of #Logic

COMMENTS

  1. LESSON # 1

    A premise is a statement in an argument that provides reason or support for the conclusion. There can be one or many premises in a single argument. A conclusion

  2. How to Identify Premises, Conclusions on the LSAT

    A logical argument is a series of claims that make a point. A conclusion is the point an argument is making, and the premises are claims that

  3. How to Identify and Use Premise and Conclusion Indicator Words

    An argument, in this context, is simply a statement, or set of statements, that includes at least one premise and a conclusion. A premise

  4. Premise & Conclusion

    The premise is the idea that supports the conclusion. The conclusion is the idea supported by the premise. These two ideas make up the argument. The premise

  5. 4. Identifying Premises and Conclusions

    If it's being offered as a reason to believe another claim, then it's functioning as a premise. If it's expressing the main point of the argument, what the

  6. Arguments, Premises, and Conclusions

    A conclusion is the final claim that is supported with evidence and reasons. We can also think of it as the claim that the arguer is trying to get the audience

  7. Identifying Premises and Conclusions

    ... Before you can analyze an argument you need to be sure that you've clearly identified the conclusion and the premises. Thi...

  8. What are Premises and Conclusions in an Argument

    A premise is a statement in an argument that provides evidence or reasons to form a conclusion. It contains the information that leads your

  9. Premise

    A premise or premiss is a proposition—a true or false declarative statement—used in an argument to prove the truth of another proposition called the

  10. Using Logic

    Premise: Proposition used as evidence in an argument. Conclusion: Logical result of the relationship between the premises. Conclusions serve as the thesis of