Basic Concepts 2: Inference Indicators

Overview

Argument indicator words are words commonly found at the beginning of premises and conclusions. Knowing the most common indicator words allows you to quickly distinguish 'fluff' from the important parts of arguments as well as to distinguish between premises and conclusions.

Introduction

In Basic Concepts 1 we looked at the main components of arguments (premises and conclusions) and learned a few ways to identify them. In this lesson we'll continue the same process but add a few more tools. To identify premises and conclusions we can often use indicator words. Indicator words are words that commonly begin a premise or conclusion. When we start reconstructing longer arguments that you might find in articles there will often be 'fluff', sentences that aren't directly important to the argument. Knowing common indicator words allows us to quickly identify the important components of an argument we might find in an article as well as to provide us with one more tool to distinguish premises from conclusions.

Common Indicators for Premises:
Since, because, for, as can be deduced from, given that, the reasons are, first, second, assuming that, as shown by.

Common Indicators for Sub-Premises:
For instance, for example, E.g.,. Also the same list for premises.

Common Indicators for Conclusions:
Consequentially, so it follows, thus, hence, therefore, implies that, so, and we conclude that.

Conclusions as rhetorical questions. Often arguers will present their conclusion not in the form of a statement but in the form of a rhetorical question. A rhetorical question is one where the arguer already knows the answer (or thinks they do anyway).

Example 1:

Why shouldn't we go out tonight? There's 2 for 1 drinks and all our friends will be there.

The arguers conclusion is that we should go out tonight. The reasons given support this conclusion.

Example 2:

First of all, I'm not very good at climbing trees. And second, I don't have a tail. Do you really expect me to believe humans came from monkeys?

The arguer's conclusion is that humans didn't come from monkeys. We can infer this based on the reasons given and the rhetorical question as conclusion.

Go to Basic Concepts 3 for practice!

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