The Art of Reason: Intro to Arguments | Carolyn Colsant | Skillshare

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The Art of Reason: Intro to Arguments

teacher avatar Carolyn Colsant, The Art of Reason

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Lessons in This Class

6 Lessons (18m)
    • 1. Let's Learn to Reason!

    • 2. What are Arguments?

    • 3. Finding Arguments

    • 4. Argument Forms: Deductive

    • 5. Argument Forms: Inductive

    • 6. Recap and Class Project

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About This Class

This class is an introduction to arguments. Arguments form the basis of reasoning, and reasoning affects all our choices and actions, so we want to reason as best we can. Take it from Socrates, good reasoning = a good life! 

In this ____ minute course, we’ll cover argument terminology, the different argument forms and how to tell them apart, how to find arguments, as well as the difference between reasons and explanations. 

This is an introduction course so as long as you know english, you’re good. And the only equipment you’ll need is your noggin.

Quick warning however: if you choose to embark on this journey, you can’t turn back! Reasoning is unlike most skills. It can’t be turned off or compartmentalized to certain areas of our lives. Reasoning applies to every aspect of our existence. This is because reasoning is learning how to think, and thinking applies to everything you do. So if you think ignorance is bliss, turn back now!

Meet Your Teacher

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Carolyn Colsant

The Art of Reason


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1. Let's Learn to Reason!: Hello, I'm Carolyn. I have a PhD in philosophy from the New School for Social Research. For over 10 years, I taught philosophy writing and argumentation to university students in New York City. And now I'm going to teach you the art of reason. This class is an introduction to arguments. But first, a quick disclaimer. Disclaimer learning the artery seasonal change the way you think this means it could change the way you think about anything or anyone. For example, my cousin Jenn had his boyfriend can in high school and college, come to all the family functions and he was hilarious. Then one Christmas Jen shows up without Ken. I was like jaguars can sell. Well, after I went to law school and learn how to argue, I noticed can would say things that just didn't make sense. A year later, Jenn was married to a lawyer. Oh, and if you think the point of that story is that this class will help you marry a lawyer. You definitely need this class. What is the art of reason? Reason or reasoning is the act of reflecting, examining, and formulating one's beliefs systematically with the use of logic. And we want to practice this art the best we can. Well, because our thoughts and beliefs influence our choices and actions. And our choices and actions determine the content and course of our lives. From what we eat to what computer we buy, from how we spend our time and with whom. All of this comes down to reason. In this course, you will learn the basics of argumentation, the terminology, the difference between argument forms and how to tell them apart. How to find arc, the humans, and the difference between reasons and explanations. There will be exercises along the way to test your knowledge of each lesson. But the end goal of the course is to have you make your own argument supporting a prompt, a conclusion. I provide. Acing that making a good argument will show that you understood the lessons in the class. I encourage you to upload your argument to the class gallery. But hey, it's not AS is on the first go. Don't hesitate to replay. This stuff is not easy. But the more you practice, the better, stronger and quicker reasoner you'll be. Until next time. Be well and think well. 2. What are Arguments? : Hello and welcome back to the art of reason. Today we'll cover the basic components of arguments. Let's jump right in. Arguments are made entirely of statements, so it's important that we know what a statement is. Statements are any sentences that can be true or false. Let's look at some examples. Punk rock is better than country music. Statement. Can you teach me how to paint? Not a statement? That black holes in space. Statement. Not a statement. Statements come together to form arguments in their most basic form, arguments are a set of statements that assert a claim and support that claim with reasons. We call the claim a conclusion. And the supporting statements premises. Example. The New York Times, as you read killing Jesus by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Duggan. Therefore, it must be a good book. So the conclusion is that killing Jesus is a good book, but the only support is that the New York Times recommended it. Well, that doesn't sound like a very good argument. Does it? Before going any further, it's important we understand the difference between arguments and explanations, both of which are made of statements. Explanations tell why something is the case, but arguments try to prove something is the case. Explanations can be parts of arguments, but in and of themselves, they do not constitute arguments. Use the following exercise to test your understanding of the difference between explanations and arguments. We'll review this exercise in the next lesson. Until then, be well and think well. 3. Finding Arguments: Hi, and welcome back to the art of recent. In this lesson, we'll learn how to find arguments and we do need to find them. Sometimes explanations can appear as arguments and they're not. Sometimes a group of statements may seem to support a claim, but they actually don't. And so for this reason, we need to learn how to find arguments. Learning how to find arguments will give you the ability to know when someone is making a rational argument and when someone's talking out of there. The first step to finding arguments is to locate the conclusion. After locating the conclusion, you'll try and find the premises. Finding arguments may seem simple, but it can be quite complicated. One trick we can use to help is to look for indicator words. Indicator words are words and phrases that signal where the premises and the conclusion are. Some indicator words for conclusions are. Therefore, it follows that. So consequently, hence, thus, some indicator words for premises are because, Given that, assuming that for, as, let's get to the exercise. In this exercise, you'll tell whether there is an argument present or there isn't an argument present. If there is an argument, your job is to find the conclusion and then find the premises. Conclusions are not always explicit. Sometimes they're implicit, in which case, finding the conclusion first is not an option. Instead, you have to look at the statements provided to determine if any might be supporting a claim. Here's an example of an argument with a conclusion that is implicit. I saw Bruce carrying records into the club Friday. The only reason to bring records to a club Friday night is to spin them. The conclusion here is that Bruce is a DJ, but it's implied and not explicit. We'll see the answers next time. Until then. Be well and think well. Here are the answers to the exercise from last lesson. 4. Argument Forms: Deductive: Hi, and welcome back to the art of reason. Today we'll be discussing the two different argument forms, deductive and inductive reasoning. The first thing you need to know about deductive inductive reasoning is that deductive reasoning attempts to provide certain proof for its conclusion, whereas inductive reasoning strives for probability. Another difference is that deductive arguments are based strictly on logical reasoning, whereas inductive arguments involve repeated observations. Today we'll focus on deductive reasoning. The following example is a famous deductive argument. Socrates is a man. All men are mortal. Socrates is mortal. Deductive arguments are first evaluated for validity. Validity is a tricky concept, so don't hesitate to replay this section. Validity concerns the logical structure of the argument. This means that it's not about the truth or falsity of the statements, but rather about how the argument is formed. A valid argument is one in which the logical structure guarantees that the conclusion will be true. If the premises are true. In a valid argument, you can have false premises and a false conclusion. False premises on a true conclusion, true premises and a true conclusion. But she cannot have true premises and a false conclusion. Again, because in a valid argument, true premises mean that the conclusion cannot be false. You're welcome. Now let's look at an example of an invalid argument. If ben is a rhino, he has a horn, then has a horn. Therefore, ben is a rhino. This argument is invalid because the structure does not guarantee that if the premises are true, the conclusion cannot be false. In other words, ben has a horn, but that doesn't make him a rhino. He could be a unicorn or bowl. The next thing to know is that a valid argument with true premises is what we call sound. So a sound argument is one where the structure of the argument is valid and the premises are true. Here's an example of a valid argument with false premises. If a dinosaur moves to the beach, It will be happy. A dinosaur moves to the beach. The dinosaur is happy. This is a valid argument, but the premises are false because dinosaurs are extinct and they can't buy waterfront property. Time to test your understanding of deductive arguments. In this exercise, you'll tell if the following examples are invalid or valid arguments. We'll review this exercise in the next lesson until then, be well and think well. Here are the answers to the exercise from last lesson. 5. Argument Forms: Inductive: Hi, and welcome back to the art of Greece. Today we'll be discussing inductive arguments, as I mentioned last class. And inductive argument attempts to give probable support for its conclusion. Let's look at an example. Most full grown adults are taller than 18 inches. John is a full-grown adult. John is probably taller than 18 inches. As you can see, the argument can only approximate certainty. The following words and phrases are indicators that an argument might be inductive. Likely, probably. It is possible that Odds are, chances are almost all the arguments you come across in your life will be inductive. And because with inductive arguments there is no certainty, we must look not only to the structure of the argument, but also beyond. For example, if you were betting on the color of swans, just go with it. If you were betting on the color of swans and someone said to you, all the swans I've seen are white, therefore, all swans are white. You might want to know how many swans they've seen before placing your bet. That's a frivolous example. But in some cases, and argument could mean life or death. For example, if a doctor told you that they could cure your illness through an experimental procedure, but that the experimental procedure might end up killing you. You probably have a lot of questions before submitting yourself as a Guinea pig. Inductive reasoning isn't measured in terms of validity, but rather by strength or weakness. A strong inductive argument is one that offers good support for its conclusion. Whereas a weak inductive argument is one that offers poor support for its conclusion. The swan example is a weak argument. I mean, just because dude hasn't seen a swan of another color, doesn't mean they don't exist. How many Islam says even seen? Like, has he seen swans on other continents? Now if an inductive argument is strong and the premises are true, we call that argument cogent. So a cogent argument is one where the structure is strong and the premises are verifiably true. Keep in mind that the truth of the premises in an inductive argument do not guarantee the truth of the conclusion. The conclusion is only ever probable. In the following exercise teller the examples are strong or weak inductive arguments. We'll review the exercise next lesson. Until then, be well and think, wow. And here are the answers to the exercise from last lesson. 6. Recap and Class Project: Hello and welcome back to the art of reason. Today's video is a quick recap of the lessons. It also provides the example and instructions for the final exercise, the class project. In this class, we learned that arguments are made of statements. Statements are sentences that can be true or false. The statements in an argument are a conclusion which asserts a claim and a premise or premises which support that claim. We also learned that there's a difference between explanations and arguments. Explanations say why something is the case, whereas arguments attempt to prove that something is the case. I gave some tips and tricks to finding arguments, namely to find the conclusion first and to look for indicators. In the event that a conclusion is implicit, look for the premises first and try to discern what exactly they're supporting. We learned the two argument forms, inductive and deductive reasoning. We also learn what differentiates them. Inductive reasoning is a quest for probability, whereas deductive reasoning strives for certainty. The two argument forms are evaluated differently. Deductive arguments are evaluated on the basis of validity and soundness, whereas inductive arguments look at strength and cogency. A valid argument is one in which the structure will guarantee that if the premises are true, the conclusion cannot be false. An inductive argument that strong will show that if the premises are true, the conclusion is likely. And if those premises are in fact true, the argument is cogent. And without further ado, the class project. For this project, I'll be giving you a prompt that functions as a conclusion. And you'll have to provide premises to support that conclusion. In other words, you'll be making an argument. Your argument can be inductive or deductive and it need not be factual. Just remember, the objective is to support the conclusion. And you can do so with any number of premises. We're going to start with a simple example. Make no mistake though. A simple example does not mean that this will be easy. Now that you know the ins and outs of argumentation, you can see how doing it right can be a challenge. Don't forget the point of this exercise is to make an argument whether you agree with the conclusion or not. Feel free to get creative with that reasoning. In fact, go wild. Please remember that we are all learning here. And getting it wrong is often a necessary part of learning how it's done right? And now I present your conclusion. Cities should invest more money to accommodate alternative transportation, like bicycles, skateboards, rollerblades, and those weird one, we'll things. I encourage you to share your project to the class gallery. This will give us all extra practice finding and evaluating arguments. And here are the answers to the exercise from last lesson. Thank you for joining the art of reason injured arguments. If you enjoyed this class, please, like follow subscribe, comment. Do whatever people do when they like something on the Internet. And if you have any questions or would like access to more exercises, please contact me at contact at Carolyn until next time. Be well and think well.