On Defining ‘Argument’

  • Jeffrey Goodman


There is no concept more central to logic and critical thinking than the concept of an argument. I here address the definition of ‘argument’ in the logical sense of the term and defend the claim that many current proposals, once they are interpreted in a way that makes them sufficiently precise, are extensionally inadequate. Definitions found in some contemporary, prominent critical thinking textbooks will serve as a springboard. I claim that each may be interpreted in an absolutist way (i.e., as providing a definition of ‘argument’ simpliciter) or a relativistic way (as providing a definition of ‘argument-for-S’, where S is some agent or group of agents), yet all turn out to be objectionable no matter which route is taken. I finish with a proposal on which the definition of ‘argument’ is an absolutist one, yet one that avoids the problems discussed for the earlier proposals.


Arguments Defining ‘argument’ Inferential support Illative relation 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.James Madison UniversityHarrisonburgUSA

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