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Skip to 0 minutes and 14 secondsThis week, we've covered the basic topics needed to evaluate arguments. Now you know precisely what we mean by an argument. An argument is a group of statements, some of which, the premises, are offered in support of others, the conclusions. And you also know how to put arguments in standard form, and it looks like this, premise one, premise two, and so on for as many premises as there are in the argument, therefore conclusion. To put an argument in standard form can be a difficult task, as arguments may be badly presented with missing information, rhetorical moves, ambiguous sentences, or sub-arguments. Sometimes people fail to express their views as arguments, even though they succeed in telling you what they think.

Skip to 1 minute and 0 secondsI hope you see the importance of having a systematic way of presenting arguments. When you have to evaluate arguments, your first task will always be to put it in standard form, as well as the sub-arguments. Now that we have this in place, we can start showing you how to evaluate arguments. We'll do that in the following two weeks. Next week, we'll focus on the logical analysis of arguments, and we'll talk about the kind of support premises give to conclusions, and whether they achieve it.

Skip to 1 minute and 29 secondsIn week four, we will see how to evaluate the content of the premises and see how to give a global evaluation of arguments, and that's when you'll be able to say whether arguments are good or bad. For now, make sure you practise your basic skills of putting arguments in standard form. We've provided you with several examples of varying difficulty. I'll see you next week to talk about logic.

Summary of Week 2

So what have we done in this week?

We’ve defined an argument as a group of statements, some of which, the premises, are offered in support of others, the conclusions. Very often these may be presented clumsily, with missing information, rhetorical moves, or ambiguous sentences. That’s why we have learnt to put arguments in standard form:


To put an argument in standard form can be a difficult task but we hope you see the importance of having a systematic way of presenting arguments. When you have to evaluate arguments, your first task will always be to put it in standard form – as well as its sub-arguments. And now that we have this in place, we can start showing how to go ahead and evaluate arguments. We’ll do that in the following two weeks.

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This video is from the free online course:

Logical and Critical Thinking

The University of Auckland

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