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4.5: More Complex Argument Structures

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More Complex Argument Structures

Summary: Arguments and explanations often have complex structures beyond simple premises leading to conclusions. This section explores such structures, including intermediate conclusions and independent supporting premises. Understanding these structures enhances analytical skills, enabling students to dissect and evaluate more intricate arguments effectively.

Learning Objectives:

• Identify complex argument structures, including intermediate conclusions and independent supporting premises.
• Represent argument structures using standard form and visual diagrams.
• Analyze arguments to determine the relationships between premises and conclusions.

Intermediate Conclusions:

• Statements that support the main conclusion but are themselves supported by other premises.
• Example: "No one living in Pompeii could have survived the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. The reason is simple: the lava was flowing too fast and there was nowhere to go to escape it in time."

Independent Supporting Premises:

• Premises that provide direct support for the conclusion but are unrelated to each other.
• Example: "I know that Wanda rode her bike to work today because when she arrived at work she had her right pant leg rolled up, and Bob saw her riding towards work at 7:45 am."

Structural Representation:

• Standard Form: Statements numbered, with dependencies indicated.
• Diagrams: Visual representations of argument structures, illustrating relationships between premises and conclusions.

Exercise: Represent the following arguments in standard form and visualize their structures using diagrams.

1. There is nothing wrong with prostitution because there is nothing wrong with consensual sexual and economic interactions between adults. Moreover, since there’s no difference between a man who goes on a blind date with a woman, buys her dinner and then has sex with her and a man who simply pays a woman for sex, that is another reason for why there is nothing wrong with prostitution.
2. Prostitution is wrong because it involves women who have typically been sexually abused as children. We know that most of these women have been abused from multiple surveys done with women who have worked in prostitution and that show a high percentage of self-reported sexual abuse as children.
3. There was someone in this cabin recently because there was warm water in the tea kettle and because there was wood still smoldering in the fireplace. But the person couldn’t have been Tim because Tim has been with me the whole time. Therefore, there must be someone else in these woods.
4. It is possible to be blind and yet run in the Olympic Games since Marla Runyan did it at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
5. The train was late because it had to take a longer, alternate route since the bridge was out.
6. Israel is not safe if Iran gets nuclear missiles since Iran has threatened multiple times to destroy Israel and if Iran had nuclear missiles it would be able to carry out this threat. Moreover, since Iran has been developing enriched uranium, they have the key component needed for nuclear weapons—every other part of the process of building a nuclear weapon is simple compared to that. Therefore, Israel is not safe.
7. Since all professional hockey players are missing front teeth and Martin is a professional hockey player, it follows that Martin is missing front teeth. And since almost all professional athletes who are missing their front teeth have false teeth, it follows that Martin probably has false teeth.
8. Anyone who eats the crab rangoon at China Food restaurant will probably have stomach troubles afterward. It has happened to me every time, which is why it will probably happen to other people as well. Since Bob ate the crab rangoon at China Food restaurant, he will probably have stomach troubles afterward.
9. Albert and Caroline like to go for runs in the afternoon in Hyde Park. Since Albert never runs alone, we know that any time Albert is running, Caroline is running too. But since Albert looks like he has just run (since he is panting hard), it follows that Caroline must have run too.
10. Just because Jeremy’s prints were on the gun that killed Tim and the gun was registered to Jeremy, it doesn’t follow that Jeremy killed Tim since Jeremy’s prints would certainly be on his own gun and someone else could have stolen Jeremy’s gun and used it to kill Tim.

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4.5: More Complex Argument Structures is shared under a not declared license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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