Talk:Argument

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Lede[edit]

The new initial sentence "An argument is set of claims, one or more of which, the premises, are offered to support or give reasons for another claim, known as the conclusion" uses the term "claim" rather than "sentence". I see the source for this in the cited book by Judy Grovier. I think it unusual to describe the constituent premises and conclusion as "claims"; more usual, I think you will find, is "sentence", "statement" or "proposition". For example a text chosen at random from my shelves (Wesley, Logic, PH 1963) has

"More precisely, an argument is a group of statements standing in relation to each other. (Footnote: The term "statement" is used to refer to components of arguments because it is philosophically more neutral than alternatives such as "sentence" or "proposition". No technical definition of "statement is offered here, because any definition would raise controversies in the philosophy of language which need not trouble the beginner. More sophisticated readers may supply whatever technical definition seems most appropriate to them.) An argument consists of one statement which is the conclusion and one or more statements of supporting evidence. The statements of evidence are called "premises".

. In what way do the inserted words making the new initial sentence (derived from Grovier) improve the article?— Philogos (talk) 20:05, 1 August 2011 (UTC)

In my opinion, they make it more accessible to the general reader by presenting a definition in everyday language, as opposed to technical terms or schematic descriptions. The term "meaningful declarative sentence in a natural language," for example, is quite technical, removed as it is from everyday usage. In addition, the word "claim" – as opposed to sentence or statement – helps to distinguish an argument from a report, and is also less technical than "proposition." I think you will find that most sources aimed at a general audience include some discussion of claims and reasons in arguments. In fact, if you Google the terms argument, claim and reason together, you will find over a hundred million pages. If you Google "meaningful declarative sentence" you will find considerably fewer.
The technical language is important, however, more important in a general encyclopedia (vs. an encyclopedia of logic or philosophy, which Wikipedia is not) is to let the general reader recognize the things in his experience that correspond with the terms under discussion, so that a more detailed discussion of their importance will be meaningful for her. Although the discussion can also initiate the reader into the technical vocabulary of the discipline, this should not take precedence to making clear the wider significance of the thing being talked about.
Pace Wesley, the definition "a group of statements standing in relation to each other" is about as vague as vague could be when it comes to the study of arguments. Could you please tell me what comes before this sentence in the quotation you provided? He says "more precisely" which suggests that even he began with a general description. User:Walkinxyz (not signed in) 99.233.168.67 (talk) 13:53, 2 August 2011 (UTC)
The immediately preceding sentence In Salmon is "Roughly speaking, and argument is a conclusion standing in relation to its supporting evidence." Together with the previous quote, this makes up the entire para. I mentioned that I picked this book at random; it was widely used for into 1000 level uni logic course. Salmon is not here giving a formal definition.
I agree we should make the logic articles as accessible as possible. I think it better to begin with an opening sentence which we define as carefully as possible the subject of the article, as "In Logic, an X is a Y", to be followed but explanatory remarks, statements in symbols if helpful, and examples. I think if you look at a number of texts you will find that they all agree that an arguments consists of one or more/a set/a series of sentences/statements/propositions/claims one of which is called the "conclusion" the rest being called "the premises" and thee premises purport to support/entail/evidence the conclusion. Regarding the variation "sentences/statements/propositions/claims", one reason I quoted you the Salman, was so you could see how concerned he is to use a neutral term. Unfortunately "statement" is not a neutral term following Strawson: see [statement] and neither is "proposition" see [proposition]. Mates, Elementary Logic, 1972, settles on "sentence", by which he has in mind declarative sentences:

"Sentences are usually classified as declarative, interrogative, imperative etc. Characteristic of declarative sentences is that they are true or false, and it is these that are of primary interest to the logician"

Mates defines an argument as follows:

Logic investigates the relation of consequence that holds between the premises and the conclusion of a sound argument... By an argument we mean a system of declarative sentences(of a single language) one of which is designated as the conclusion and the other as premises

.

I would disagree that an argument is first an foremost a "system." That is ontologically suspect as far as I'm concerned. Walkinxyz (talk) 06:44, 3 August 2011 (UTC)
However, it is not true that ALL declarative sentences are either true or false, only the meaningful ones. Hence the "meaningful declarative sentence" used in the article. I beg to differ with you; I think that the normal reader of primary school education WOULD understand "meaningful declarative sentence", although would not perhaps understand why the phrase is used instead of, say, "statement" "declaration" or "proposition". I have queried you use of claim because (A) it is no usual to use it in this context (can you cite any source OTHER than Judy Grovier?) and I wonder why the article should make us of a minority term(B) I am not sure in precisely what sense is it being used: is it the same as one of "sentence" or "proposition" or "statement" or "declarative sentence" or "utterance" or does it have some different sense all together? the chose of term we use, "sentence" or "proposition" or "statement" or "declarative sentence" or "meaningful declarative sentence" or "utterance" or "claim" is philologically a hot potato.: see truthbearer and Mates who said

In remarking that propositions, statements, thoughts and judgments as described by those who consider them to be what logic is all about,, do not exist, I seem to have stamped on the toes of a number of reader"

.

I suspect that Mates would add the term "claim" to the list! The use of "meaningful declarative sentence" has not been previously challenged and the article has been stable for many months prior to your edits.— Philogos (talk) 02:58, 3 August 2011 (UTC)
I doubt that he would add it to the list if he understood what arguments do, and not just what logicians do. My problem is that "meaningful declarative sentence in a natural language" does not help to distinguish an argument from a report of an argument. And we disagree on what an average reader of English would understand.
I was also editing this article months ago. What does it matter that the article was stable, if it could be improved? "can you cite any source OTHER than Judy Grovier?" – I don't think I really need to, but if you force me to, I will. When discussing arguments in everyday language, the common usage is to say the author "claims" something. Claim is simply a synonym for an assertion – whether presumed, proven or alleged. How is that in any way controversial, or a "minority" description? Find an author that says an argument is categorically NOT a claim or set of claims and you'll have a case here. I didn't say that all arguments have to be described as a set of claims, I said that an argument can be described that way. Am I wrong?
The immediately preceding sentence In Salmon is "Roughly speaking, and argument is a conclusion standing in relation to its supporting evidence." Together with the previous quote, this makes up the entire para. I mentioned that I picked this book at random; it was widely used for into 1000 level uni logic course. Salmon is not here giving a formal definition.
I see now that he gives a vague answer, not a general one – i.e. his entire answer is vague. You were wise to not include the first part. An "argument is a conclusion standing in relation to its supporting evidence," but so is a line of reasoning in my own head. What makes it an argument? The term presumes a "speaker" and a "respondent," or their equivalent.
Mates defines an argument as follows:

Logic investigates the relation of consequence that holds between the premises and the conclusion of a sound argument... By an argument we mean a system of declarative sentences(of a single language) one of which is designated as the conclusion and the other as premises

.

I would disagree that an argument is first an foremost a "system." That is ontologically suspect as far as I'm concerned. Walkinxyz (talk) 06:44, 3 August 2011 (UTC)
Also, semantically and ontologically, a "premise" is not equivalent to a "sentence," especially if it is not explicit. And premises can also be articulated in more than one sentence, including interrogatives. e.g. in the following argument:
"What is the colour that turns my thoughts to murder? Red is the colour. But what should I do when my thoughts turn in such a way as this? Should I wipe out all trace of the colour, wherever I find it? This is to me more murderous than anything. Therefore I must go into hiding." Walkinxyz (talk) 07:07, 3 August 2011 (UTC)
Many of your sources use language such as "we define…" in a conversational way to address the readers of the respective source. The definition seems in most cases provided for the sake of illustration rather than providing a comprehensive or exhaustive definition. I think you might be interested in the Wikipedia philosophy style guide which suggests that articles are not meant to be written conversationally, that they are meant for as broad an audience as possible, and that they should take a "meta" perspective from outside the relevant field of study. Walkinxyz (talk) 08:40, 3 August 2011 (UTC)

Please keep your responses together in one place at the END of the section, rather than weaving them. You seem to disagree with Salman, Mates, but they are reliables sources. Editors must edit froma neutral point of view.

Editing from a neutral point of view (NPOV) means representing fairly, proportionately, and as far as possible without bias, all significant views that have been published by reliable sources. All Wikipedia articles and other encyclopedic content must be written from a neutral point of view. NPOV is a fundamental principle of Wikipedia and of other Wikimedia projects. This policy is non-negotiable and all editors and articles must follow it.

The subject of the article is the the argument as used in logic; it may be used in other ways but they are not the subject of this article. — Philogos (talk) 22:31, 3 August 2011 (UTC)

If you want to create a page called Argument (Logic), or Argument (Symbolic Logic) of course you're more than welcome to. You'd do a good job, I'm sure. However, despite what the subject heading says, this is simply the argument article, in a general encyclopedic resource that ranges across all topics, not just logic or philosophy, and as such it must take some account of the normal sense in which we use the term argument (the sense that it is studied in logic and philosophy), and why we use arguments, as well as the ways in which philosophers themselves actually argue. Anything less, I think, is a sad disservice to Wikipedia readers.
Second, my opinions on the talk page with regard to the quality of your sources are hardly undue bias. This criticism of yours is quite badly misplaced, I'm afraid. My changes have to do with relevance to the topic and intelligibility for the average reader, and all have been sourced when requested (note that not everything has to be sourced in a Wikipedia article, only capable of being verified in principle).
That said, as an editor who desires to contribute to this topic, which, I will admit, does take some degree of sophistication to properly understand, you could do worse than to familiarize yourself some of the most influential and up-to-date academic work on logic and argument (which are far from "minority" or "marginal"), including the work of people like Charles Taylor, Ian Hacking, Donald Davidson, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Wittgenstein, Charles Sanders Peirce, John Dewey and others such as Nikolas Kompridis, who does a fine job of researching and reviewing their work. You will be less inclined then to speak, as Mates, does, of an argument as a "system" – they are self-evidently far more than that.
Your quotations from individuals who discuss the topic of argument in "rough" terms, or who discuss a particular aspect of logic, may be "reliable" but they are not relevant to the lead of this article. You've told me that you picked sources "at random" from your shelf. Editors are required to use judgment in evaluating the quality of sources, not just rely what a random (or popular) expert says. To do this, they need to use their own reasoning and draw on their own expertise – something of which I am glad to say I am not totally bereft, whatever my other faults. The line of reasoning I have included here on the Talk page is a heuristic aid, to show you that what you think are "abnormal" definitions of argument are in fact consistent with common knowledge and the abilities of anyone with the ability to reason. From the style guide:
Philosophy articles should be written not from any particular POV, but rather from the perspective of a reasoner which every person is. This is to say that it should be possible for an average person to be able to reason things out so as to have an excellent and intellectual understanding of the topic merely by reading and following wikilinks. Toward this end, articles should not be written with jargon, nor terminology favoring one in-group of academicians over another.
Furthermore, experts who write in a conversational tone – and don't get me wrong, those are sometimes the best kind – should not provide the template for a Wikipedia article. Your sources (I mean Mates, and Salman, or Wesley or whomever) do not give an adequate overview of the importance of argument for logic, let alone philosophy, but rather seem to confine themselves (at least in the quotations you provide) to pick at the fine points of technical logical terminology. That is good for them, but irrelevant to the lead of an article like this. Walkinxyz (talk) 04:00, 4 August 2011 (UTC)

The subject of the article has always been Argument as used in logic, as indicated by the hat (until you changed it). It was decided some time ago not to call it Argument(logic), on the grounds (as I recall) that it is the principal usage: for other uses see Argument (disambiguation). The changes you have made to the lede do not provide a definition of Argument as normally used in the literature by reliable sources. Mates and Salman are reliable sources; it is not relevant whether you disagree with them. The established use of the terms Argument in logic is that it (a) consists of one or more premises and a conclusion (b) the premises purport to support the conclusion (c) in the case of deductive argument, the premises are purported to entail the conclusion (d) the premises and the conclusion are said to be in the literature by different authors either (a) statements (b) sentences (by which are meant declarative sentences) or (c) propositions. All authors agree that whichever terms they have used , they are referring to whatever it is they consider to be either true or false (i.e. truthbearers ). As I said before this is hot potato in the field of philosophy logic. (You might care to look at Kneale, The Development of Logic, Oxford 1962 p. 48 et seq. I have only seen “claim” used in the one text you cited. I have provided a number of sources in support of the foregoing; I can easily provide more. The ball is in your court to cite sources for the changes you have made. — Philogos (talk) 05:22, 4 August 2011 (UTC)

Wikipedia is not a dictionary, nor is it a usage guide. It is not just about terms that are used in specialized fields such as logic. The problem with Mates and Salman are not whether I agree or disagree with them, but whether they are relevant to the lead of an encyclopedia article on argument in general. And perhaps they are, but you have not shown me why.
From The uses of argument, Stephen Edelston Toulmin: "A man who makes an assertion puts forward a claim—a claim on our attention and to our belief…" etc. (p.11) and on and on.
You have provided a good structural definition of a standard deductive or inductive argument. However, the purpose of a lead is to "stand alone as a concise overview of the article. It should define the topic, establish context, explain why the subject is interesting or notable, and summarize the most important points—including any prominent controversies." There is plenty of literature on definitions of argument that are not structural but functional, and plenty of literature on arguments that do not conform to the standard deductive or inductive form. When I have time, I will refer you to even more of them, but in the meantime I would urge you to not be so dogmatic and adversarial in this.
"Upon this first, and in one sense this sole, rule of reason, that in order to learn you must desire to learn, and in so desiring not be satisfied with what you already incline to think, there follows one corollary which itself deserves to be inscribed upon every wall of the city of philosophy: Do not block the way of inquiry." [Including for yourself.] (Charles Saunders Peirce, "First Rule of Logic") Walkinxyz (talk) 06:18, 4 August 2011 (UTC)
Re "dogmatic and adversarial"; please read Wikipedia:Civility — Philogos (talk) 01:14, 30 July 2011 (UTC). Re ""A man who makes an assertion puts forward a claim—a claim on our attention and to our belief…"; I do not see how this shows how the term Argument is used in Logic. Re "The established use of the terms Argument". Above I set out how the term is used n the literature (see (a) --(D) above. The citations already provided, ("Argument", Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.", The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, 2nd Ed. CUM, 1995 "Argument: a sequence of statements such that some of them (the premises) purport to give reason to accept another of them, the conclusion"; Stanford Enc. Phil., Classical Logic; Mates, Elementary Logic, 1972 ;Wesley, Logic, PH 1963) bear this out and are all reliable sources. I can provide further supportive references from Jennifer Fisher, The Philosophy of Logic, 2008; Anthony Harrison-Barbet, Mastering Philosophy; LTF Gamit, Logic Language and Meaning, 1991;Barwise & Ethcmendy, Language Proof and Logic, 1999; Hacking, A Concise Introduction to Logic, 1972; Sybil Wolfram, Philosophical Logic, 1989 (page refs available on request). All of these concur with what I wrote above; none of them concur with the changes you have made to the beginning of the lede. I look forward to seeing the citations you have promised to support your

"In philosophy and logic, an argument is an attempt to persuade someone of something, or give evidence or reasons for accepting a particular conclusion.

rather than the original

"An argument in logic is either (a) a set (or sequence) of one or more meaningful declarative sentences in a natural language known as the premises along with another sentence known as the conclusion or (b) a non-empty collection of formulas in a formal language, one of which is designated to be the conclusion.[1][2]

. I would be particularly interested to see your citations from Wittgenstein. — Philogos (talk) 17:20, 4 August 2011 (UTC)

[edit]

I am going to quote at length from a secondary text on argument in particular, not just on logic (specifically on definitions of argument) that I find particularly helpful in this regard, since it contains a passage which quotes several primary sources on logic (no less than ten or eleven), and then goes into some detail discussing them, including reference to the views of Peirce, James and Wittgenstein. The text is Ralph H. Johnson's Manifest Rationality: A pragmatic theory of argument (2000). From pages 46-49:

[A] good definition [of argument] must stress both the function of argument and its rational nature: "The rational function of argument makes evaluation a necessary component of any adequate theory of argument" (cited: Rowland, 1987, p.150). But before I move to my own definition, it will be helpful to review some current ones.
Review and Critique of Current Definitions
[O]ne view of argument sees it as a set of statements, (propositions, assertions, beliefs, and judgments), one of which, the conclusion, is supported by the others — the premises. A definition of this sort can be found in every kind of logic text, whether deductive or inductive, formal or informal. On this view, an argument is a text or discourse that has a certain structure: Claim supported by reason(s). Here are a few examples of authors who take this view.
In Copi's (1961) Introduction to Logic, the oldest textbook in North America, is the following definition, "An argument, in the logician's sense, is any group of propositions of which one is claimed to follow from the others which are regarded as providing evidence for the truth of that one" (p.7). In later editions, "evidence" is replaced by "support or grounds") (1986, p.6). A few lines later, Copi added: "An argument is not a mere collection of propositions, but has a structure" (p.7)
In a popular critical thinking text, Barry and Rudinow (1992) wrote, "An argument is a set of assertions one of which is understood or intended to be supported by the other(s)" (p.95).
Cederblom and Paulsen (1996) wrote, "When someone gives reasons to support a point of view, that person is usually offering an argument" (p.15). The hedge "usually" softens matters here. But the basic idea of argument as reasons offered in support of a view is evident.
Hinderer (1991) wrote, "In logic, the term 'argument' means that at least one reason is offered to influence a person's belief about something" (p.16)
Schwarz (1994) wrote:
A discourse is any sentence or group of sentences. In reasoning we are especially interested in a particular kind of discourse called an argument. An argument is any discourse which attempts to support a claim by giving reasons. The reasons that are given as supporting the claim are the premises of the argument, and the claim that is to be supported is called the conclusion of the argument. (p.1)
In all of these definitions, we can see the influence of the view that an argument is a group of propositions in which some (the premises) support the other (the conclusion).
To be sure, the traditional view is not all wrong. It highlights on important aspect of argument – its structure. But this way of understanding argument ultimately must fail because it does not distinguish argument from other forms of reasoning. I may give a reason in support of a claim to influence a person's belief and yet not be making an argument.
I offer reasons in support when I explain, "the reason that your car won't start is that you have a dead battery, and also the starter is defective." Here I am supporting one claim (your car won't start) by another (you have a dead battery) and another (your starter is defective), yet this discourse is not argument but, rather, explanation.[3] Or, "The reason we are having such a crazy summer is the influence of El Nino." Here I offer a reason (the influence of El Nino, which is not even a statement) that is intended to support some other assertion (we are having such a crazy summer), but the function of this relationship is not to persuade the hearer of the truth of the proposition for which support is given. Supposing that the hearer already grants its truth, the reasoner is offering an explanation why.
I offer reasons when I instruct, "If you want to get the best light for this shot, you're going to have to use a XDX-1000 filter combined with…" Here I offer a reason (you're going to have to use a XDX-1000 filter) as support for the claim (If you want to get the best lighting), but the function of the discourse is not to persuade anyone that the claim is true. Presumably, the hearer (here, the apprentice) is prepared to accept the instructor's instruction; they are not going to argue about it. So although that discourse fits the standard definition of argument given previously, it does not seem to have the character of an argument.
I offer reasons when I make an excuse, "I can't go to the show tonight because I have to study for my exam tomorrow." Here we have the structure of argument as defined, but that is not sufficient to qualify it as an argument.
Generally, then, the mere existence of discourse–reasoning in which a claim is in some fashion supported by others is not a sufficient condition, although it is a necessary one, for construing that discourse as an argument.
The conception of argument I have been discussing might be called the structural view, and I have produced samples from textbooks to show that it is widespread. But it would be wrong to think that this view is restricted to textbooks. Theorists like Hamblin (1970) also adopted this view: "Argument is generally regarded as being whatever it is that is typically expressed by the form of words 'P, therefore Q,' 'P, and so Q'; or, perhaps, 'Q, since P', 'Q because P' " (p.228).[4] Wreen (1998) also expressed this view: "If we think of offering an argument as simply offering a reason, or reasons, for a conclusion, where such offering is conceptual in nature …" (p.77). Or look at the entry on argument in The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy (1995), where an argument is "a sequence of statements such that some of them (the premises) purport to give reason to accept another of them the conclusion" (p.37). The entry for argument in The Oxford Companion to Philosophy (Honderich, 1995) is slightly more useful but still reflects this gap:
The word has three main senses:
1. A quarrel, as when …
2. In the most important sense for philosophy an argument is a complex consisting of a set of propositions (called its premises) and a proposition (called its conclusion). You can use an argument by asserting its premises and drawing or inferring its conclusion. (p.47)
There is some validity to the structural view. We produce arguments for a reason, to serve a purpose. We engage in the practice of argumentation because we wish to persuade someone of something, and to do so rationally. We recognize that if we want to persuade the other of something rationally, it is incumbent on the arguer to put forth reasons. Hence the view that an argument consists of a thesis plus the reasons for it. What this line of reflection shows is that argument has its structure (reasons in support of a thesis, or premises plus conclusion) because of the purpose it serves – rational persuasion. A significant limitation of the structural view is that it ignores this important aspect – purpose or function. The moral of the story is that if a satisfactory conceptualization of argument is to be developed, the purpose or the function of the discourse must be referred to, an idea that is alluded to obliquely in this definition from Johnson and Blair (1983), "By an argument we mean a collection of claims (or statements) whose purpose is to lay out a route which leads from the acceptance of some claims (the premises) to the acceptance of some other target claim (the conclusion)" (p.3). This articulation is moderately better than the standard structural account, at least in so far as it alludes to function or purpose no less than structure. But better still would be an account that linked the two ideas. This is what a pragmatic approach accomplishes.[5] What do I understand by this phrase?
A pragmatic approach to argument begins by asking: What purpose(s) does argument serve? What function (or functions) do argument(s) have? The answer is: Many, no doubt. But preeminent among them is the function of persuading someone (I call this person the Other) of the truth of something (I shall call this the Thesis) by reasoning, by producing a set of reasons whose function it is to lead that person rationally to accept the claim in question. There are other purposes or functions that argument serves, such as to inquire into some matter or to solidify a point of view. For example, the use of argumentation for inquiry (which may be described as self-persuasion) is dependent on argument as persuasion: We first lean the practice of persuading others then we can use that practice to inquire; that is, to persuade ourselves. Just as one might argue that we first learn to talk to others and then learn to talk to ourselves, I would claim that in the first instance, argumentation serves the purpose of rational persuasion. First we learn how to persuade others and then we learn how to persuade ourselves [argumentation as inquiry]. In other words, the public precedes the private in the practice of argumentation as elsewhere in language, if Wittgenstein's views are right.

et cetera. (from Ralph H. Johnson, Manifest Rationality: a pragmatic theory of argument, 2000, 146-149)

So it does help to have some context, and some history as well, which is provided by secondary sources on argument and not just logic textbooks picked out "at random." I will write more about the history of argument, including how argument came to be defined in "mathematical" terms, in tomorrow's dissertation. (This will include a more in-depth discussion of Wittgenstein.) Such an understanding is also pretty essential for a Wikipedia article like this.

Walkinxyz (talk) 22:42, 4 August 2011 (UTC)

p.s. I would be very interested to see your citation from Hacking. Walkinxyz (talk) 23:21, 4 August 2011 (UTC)

  1. ^ The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, 2nd Ed. CUM, 1995 "Argument: a sequence of statements such that some of them (the premises) purport to give reason to accept another of them, the conclusion"
  2. ^ Stanford Enc. Phil., Classical Logic
  3. ^ note in text: For a fuller account of the differences between argument and explanation, see Govier (1987). Ultimately, the problem of providing an adequate account of the difference between argument and explanation belongs to the theory of reasoning.
  4. ^ note in text: See also Nickerson (1986): "Here the term argument will be given a somewhat broader connotation than its strictly deductive one. It will be used to connote any set of assertions that is intended to support some conclusion or influence a person's belief" (p.68)
  5. ^ note in text: The term "pragmatic" calls to mind Peirce and James and their developments of a philosophical outlook that came to be known as "pragmatism." Peirce said the term emerged from his reflections on Kant, which he read and reflected on every day for 2 years (so he said). The idea of pragmatisch is the reference to action and activity. With Peirce, it became the signal for a different approach to inquiry and belief, in which belief is viewed not as a matter of something that takes place in the mind (a propositional attitude) but rather as a plan of action or a way of acting. For Peirce, the idea of action became a vital component in his theory of inquiry. It gave him a new way of thinking about the nature of belief and meaning. James broadened this theory of meaning to include a theory of truth, according to wchich, a belief is true if it works. It is from this location that the term then eventually enters the vocabulary of North American life. The transformation that Peirce went through with the term "pragmatic" is worthy of note. For as he himself told us some years later, the idea that action is the end-all and be-all of human life is a doctrine that recommends itself with more force to a man of 30 than one of 50. As he reflected on the term "pragmatism" and his own philosophical thought, Peirce saw that action is not an end in itself but always refers us back to purpose. And so, for Peirce, the term "pragmatism," while it emphasizes activity, ultimately refers us to human purpose
You have cited just the one source, i.e Ralph Johnson (philosopher), Ralph Johnson's Manifest Rationality: A pragmatic theory of argument (2000) dn he writes{{quote> |text=[O]ne view of argument sees it as a set of statements, (propositions, assertions, beliefs, and judgments), one of which, the conclusion, is supported by the others — the premises. A definition of this sort can be found in every kind of logic text, whether deductive or inductive, formal or informal. }}

- :and

In the most important sense for philosophy an argument is a complex consisting of a set of propositions (called its premises) and a proposition (called its conclusion).

- :He thus agrees that the established use of the term Argument in the literature is as I described above, and as per the article's lede prior to your edit. He calls this the "standard structural account". However Dr Johnson suggest there is a better definition of argument that this prevailing account:

A significant limitation of the structural view is that it ignores this important aspect – purpose or function. The moral of the story is that if a satisfactory conceptualization of argument is to be developed, the purpose or the function of the discourse must be referred to, an idea that is alluded to obliquely in this definition from Johnson and Blair (1983), "By an argument we mean a collection of claims (or statements) whose purpose is to lay out a route which leads from the acceptance of some claims (the premises) to the acceptance of some other target claim (the conclusion)" (p.3).

- :which he calls a "pragmatic approach". Our difficulties would thus be resolved if the article (a) sets out the the prevailing use of th terms as used in logic, about which there appears to be no dispute (b) points out (in the body of the article) that Ralph Johnson believes that a better use of the term would be as he describes above, quoting from his own book. The article will then do what is says on the box: explain how the term IS used in logic, and mentions any views about how the term SHOULD be used; in other words we report the lexical definition in the lede and mention the stipulative definition in the body. Do you agree? — Philogos (talk) 00:01, 5 August 2011 (UTC)

PS I look forward to receiving the relevant refs to Wittgenstein you promised. Perhaps a "history section in the article would be interesting if you care write it; you might look at Kneale's The Development of Logic, Oxford 1962. The terms "argument" is not mentioned in the index to the 742 pages, but you could make a start from sec 1.3 p. 7, Dialectic and Metaphysical Argument"— Philogos (talk) 00:01, 5 August 2011 (UTC)
PPS Hacking quote:

We can divide an argument into two parts. There is the part that states the conclusion and the part that gives the reasons. Statements giving reasons are called (27) PREMISES/CONCLUSION. The (28)_______________ give reasons for the (29)______________

—Ian Hacking, A concise Introduction to Logic, Random House, NY; 1972
— Philogos (talk) 00:01, 5 August 2011 (UTC)

I don't even know how to respond to what you've just written here. It isn't just one source, it's an additional source that defines an argument in logic as reasons supporting a claim (which once upon a time was the definition in this article, but was reverted), with about 10 sources that agree with him cited. None of those sources say anything about a "meaningful declarative sentence in natural language" (not to say that it can't be defined that way, but the sources Johnson quotes do not define them that way – they use the words claim, assertion, reason, proposition, premise, conclusion and yes, sentence as a unit of "discourse").

A number of them do, however, state that it is a series of claims or assertions, and that its purpose is to persuade. The current definition encompasses all of that, with the conjunction or to distinguish the "structural" from the "functional" aspects of argument. A sentence about this distinction might help.

However, you have not cited a single source that disagrees explicitly with Johnson, nor have you cited from a volume on argument, while I have cited 3 or 4. Therefore I take Johnson's to be the most reliable source, the "best account so far", given his depth of engagement with primary sources that AT LEAST don't disagree, and AT BEST support his definition through and through.

Do you think his definition is missing some crucial point that needs to be part of the first sentence of the lead (i.e., the definition)? If so, what?

Do you believe that there are reliable sources that dispute the current definition? You have not provided any, and I have now provided several in support of it.

Once again, Wikipedia is no a usage guide. Its purpose isn't to lay out all the differing definitions of a term or advise on how a term is to be used. This article is not "about how the term is normally used in logic, and how people say the term should be used." It is not a glossary. It is an encyclopedia article about the subject of argument as studied in logic and philosophy. And since this isn't a logic textbook, that is the appropriate topic for this article.

At this point, I don't see a reason to continue this discussion. It seem to me that you're not even reading your own words, and you think the sources I've cited support them. They do not.

User:Walkinxyz (not logged in) 174.116.187.50 (talk) 01:15, 5 August 2011 (UTC)

You cited Ralph Johnson's Manifest Rationality: A pragmatic theory of argument (2000) and he writes

One view of argument sees it as a set of statements, (propositions, assertions, beliefs, and judgments), one of which, the conclusion, is supported by the others — the premises. A definition of this sort can be found in every kind of logic text, whether deductive or inductive, formal or informal.

and he gives a number of examples of authors who takes this view. This seems to concur with what I said above:

The established use of the terms Argument in logic is that it (a) consists of one or more premises and a conclusion (b) the premises purport to support the conclusion (c) in the case of deductive argument, the premises are purported to entail the conclusion (d) the premises and the conclusion are said to be in the literature by different authors either (a) statements (b) sentences (by which are meant declarative sentences) or (c) propositions

The texts that I quoted to you all contain a "definition of this sort" (although many use sentence, and none I recall use beliefs or judgments.) So there is no significant disagreement about how the term is used in logic so far as I can see; if you see a significant difference please say what it is. PS Will you not prvide the citations from Witgenstein? Page/pra refs will do: I have mist everthing he wrote at my elbow. Cheers! — Philogos (talk) 03:12, 5 August 2011 (UTC)

Johnson and the texts he cites are perfectly compatible with the way the current definition in this article is phrased. He says "one view" sees argument in structural terms, but then he explains why a purely structural definition is necessary but inadequate in a full account of argument. And while that structural definition is covered in the current introduction (albeit in simpler terms than your (a) through (d)), I thought that you had a problem with the way the current definition in this article is phrased (i.e. not neutrally). Did I misunderstand you? Or, if I understood correctly that you do have a problem with its neutrality, can you cite a source that directly refutes Johnson on the definition of argument with regard to its purpose (including the discussion of Wittgenstein which you seem not to have noticed)? Preferably from a scholarly volume on argument? If not, then you really don't have a case here. There is something essential in how Johnson (and others, including the sources currently cited in the article) describe argument as having the purpose of rational persuasion. If you dispute that, you need to give me a source that directly backs up your claim, especially since it accords stupendously with common sense, just as well as it does with the current introduction of this article (and the sources it cites).
Finally, I can find no reliable primary or secondary sources that use the term "meaningful declarative sentence(s) in a natural language." Can you please provide me with one?
Walkinxyz (talk) 07:11, 5 August 2011 (UTC)
"There is always the danger of wanting to find an expression's meaning by contemplating the expression itself, and the frame of mind in which one uses it, instead of always thinking of the practice." – Wittgenstein, On Certainty § 601
Walkinxyz (talk) 07:33, 5 August 2011 (UTC)
And another:
"[L]ogic does not treat language – or thought – in the sense in which a natural science treats a natural phenomenon, and the most that can be said is that we construct ideal languages. But here the word "ideal" is liable to mislead, for it sounds as if these languages were better, more perfect, than our everyday language; and as if it took a logician to show people at last what a proper sentence looks like.
All this, however, can appear in the right light only when one has attained greater clarity about the concepts of understanding, meaning something, and thinking. For it will then also become clear what may mislead us (and did mislead me) into thinking that if anyone utters a sentence and means or understands it, he is thereby operating a calculus according to definite rules."
(Philosophical Investigations, p. 43)
I would like to reiterate in the light of these two quotations, that the subject of an article such as this should not, in my opinion, be merely a particular "word as it used in logic" (and the schema according to which philosophers define it – that would be a worthy subtopic however), but rather something we do (with a particular purpose), and which logicians and others study and describe in its various forms. And this opinion of mine happens to accord with realizations that the later Wittgenstein had about the way philosophers (erroneously) think of rational human activity (e.g. argument) as governed primarily by rules or procedures or formal schemes.

Walkinxyz (talk) 08:44, 5 August 2011 (UTC)

I agree your lead is much better than what was there. The previous lead tried to be abstract and failed WP:TECHNICAL badly. If one is going to try and make the stuff inaccessible it should be done further down the article. Dmcq (talk) 16:24, 5 August 2011 (UTC)

Argument: Prevailing usage in logic[edit]

The prevailing use of the term argument in logic is that it (a) consists of one or more premises and a conclusion (b) the premises purport to support the conclusion (c) in the case of deductive argument, the premises are purported to entail the conclusion (d) Various terms are used in the literature when saying what the premises and the conclusion are including statements, sentences (by which are meant declarative or indicative sentences), propositions, claims. All authors agree that whichever terms they have used , they are referring to whatever it is they consider to be either true or false (i.e. truthbearers ).

The following citations from reliable sources are offered in evidence for the above:

  • The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, 2nd Ed. CUM, 1995: "Argument: a sequence of statements such that some of them (the premises) purport to give reason to accept another of them, the conclusion"; Stanford Enc. Phil., Classical Logic;
  • Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy."Argument", <http://www.iep.utm.edu/argument/>: "An argument is a connected series of statements or propositions, some of which are intended to provide support, justification or evidence for the truth of another statement or proposition. Arguments consist of one or more premises and a conclusion. The premises are those statements that are taken to provide the support or evidence; the conclusion is that which the premises allegedly support."
  • Standford Encyclopedia Of Philosophy, Informal Logic [1]: "The premises of a valid deductive argument guarantee the truth of the conclusion. If the premises are true, the conclusion cannot be false. Informal logic tends to categorize arguments in terms of a consequent distinction between "deductive" and "inductive" arguments (a distinction that Govier [1987] aptly calls "the great divide"). In contrast with valid deductive arguments, the premises of a good inductive argument render a conclusion only probable, leaving it possible that the premises are true and the conclusion false (identifying poor arguments as deductive or inductive is inherently problematic: perhaps it can best be said that poor deductive and inductive arguments are arguments that in some way approximate good deductive and inductive forms)."
  • Wesley Salman, Logic, PH 1963. pp 2,3 : "Arguments are often used to convince, and this is one of those important and legitimate function; however logic is not concerned with the persuasive power of argument. ..Roughly speaking, an argument is a conclusion standing in relation to its supporting evidence." More precisely, an argument is a group of statements standing in relation to each other. (Footnote: The term "statement" is used to refer to components of arguments because it is philosophically more neutral than alternatives such as "sentence" or "proposition". No technical definition of "statement is offered here, because any definition would raise controversies in the philosophy of language which need not trouble the beginner. More sophisticated readers may supply whatever technical definition seems most appropriate to them.) An argument consists of one statement which is the conclusion and one or more statements of supporting evidence. The statements of evidence are called "premises".
  • Mates, Elementary Logic, 1972, p 4, 5 ".. Logic investigates the relation of consequence that holds between the premises and the conclusion of a sound argument... By an argument we mean a system of declarative sentences(of a single language) one of which is designated as the conclusion and the other as premises...Sentences are usually classified as declarative, interrogative, imperative etc. Characteristic of declarative sentences is that they are true or false, and it is these that are of primary interest to the logician."
  • Jennifer Fisher, The Philosophy of Logic, 2008, p 6: "An argument ..is a set of sentences in which one or sentences are supposed to give some sort of support to another sentence." and p 24 14 "a set of sentences in which one sentence (sentences) is (are) supposed to give some sort of support to another sentence."
  • Anthony Harrison-Barbet, Mastering Philosophy, p 13: "In an argument we pass from one or more propositions called premises to another proposition called the conclusion"
  • LTF Gamit, Logic Language and Meaning, 1991, p 1 "For our purposes it is convenient to see an argument as a sequence of sentences, with the premises at the beginning and the conclusion at the end of the argument." p 6 "An argument is composed of indicative sentences. It does not contain any questions, for example."
  • Barwise & Ethcmendy, Language Proof and Logic, 1999, page 42: "..an arguments is any series of statement in which one (called the conclusion) is meant to follow from, or be supported by the others (called the premises)"
  • Sybil Wolfram, Philosophical Logic, 1989: p 10 "An argument is generally said to be valid if the conclusion follows from the premises" p 276 "Sentence: (varied usage) here used of series of words bounded by full stops etc"; p 33 "A meaningful declarative sentence is, as a first approximation, one which could express a truth (convey information)
  • Ian Hacking, A concise Introduction to Logic, Random House, NY; 1972, pp 5,6: "We can divide an argument into two parts. There is the part that states the conclusion and the part that gives the reasons. Statements giving reasons are called (27) PREMISES/CONCLUSION. The (28)_______________ give reasons for the (29)______________"
  • Ralph Johnson's Manifest Rationality: A pragmatic theory of argument (2000) "One view of argument sees it as a set of statements, (propositions, assertions, beliefs, and judgments), one of which, the conclusion, is supported by the others — the premises. A definition of this sort can be found in every kind of logic text, whether deductive or inductive, formal or informal. }}
  • The Oxford Companion to Philosophy (Honderich, 1995)p 47 : "In the most important sense for philosophy an argument is a complex consisting of a set of propositions (called its premises) and a proposition (called its conclusion). You can use an argument by asserting its premises and drawing or inferring its conclusion"

---

These are all definitions of a particular kind (the structural kind), which are not exhaustive - and not "uses".
Re: Salman:
'"logic is not concerned with the persuasive power of argument"
but it is sometimes concerned with the persuasive purpose of argument, as I have documented above. Never mind that every field that studies and uses argument (including logic) depends on this purpose and power.
I have reason to doubt the completeness of your citations. You have left out, for example, an additional "definition" from your second source, the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy:
"In philosophy, “arguments” are those statements a person makes in the attempt to convince someone of something, or present reasons for accepting a given conclusion."
And you have left out this sentence from Johnson:
[T]he mere existence of discourse–reasoning in which a claim is in some fashion supported by others is not a sufficient condition, although it is a necessary one, for construing that discourse as an argument … argument has its structure (reasons in support of a thesis, or premises plus conclusion) because of the purpose it serves – rational persuasion.
And two sources he cites:
Nickerson, Reflections on reasoning (1986): "Here the term argument will be given a somewhat broader connotation than its strictly deductive one. It will be used to connote any set of assertions that is intended to support some conclusion or influence a person's belief" (p.68)
Johnson and Blair, Logical Self-Defense (1983), "By an argument we mean a collection of claims (or statements) whose purpose is to lay out a route which leads from the acceptance of some claims (the premises) to the acceptance of some other target claim (the conclusion)" (p.3)
What else have you left out in your selective reading and/or citing?
Here is another source that endeavours to go further than the structural definition, which I provided above but which you have also apparently not read:
Stephen Edelston Toulmin, The Uses of Argument (2003): Now arguments are produced for a variety of purposes. Not every argument is set out in formal defence of an outright assertion. But … It could, I think, be argued that this was in fact the primary function of arguments, and that the other uses, the other functions which arguments have for us, are in a sense secondary, and parasitic upon this primary justificatory use.
Again, none of these sources disagrees with you, Philogo. You're like the Tea Party Republicans in the U.S. – you can't take yes for an answer. My own personal views, as you know, are much more radical than any of these – they support world disclosing arguments, whose primary function isn't to persuade, but to suggest possibilities.
Even still, here's another source that I provided above, and which doesn't disagree with you regarding the prevailing definition of argument in logic textbooks, but which you must take account of if you are to properly assess and contribute to this article:
Bickenbach, et. al., Good Reasons for Better Arguments (1998): There are various ways to characterize arguments; we will discuss two of the simplest and least controversial of these. The first is the formal characterization: an argument is a collection of assertion, one of which is the conclusion and the rest of which are premises, all of which are expressed, and therefore interpreted, within a specific context. The second characterization is functional: an argument sets our reasons in favour of a claim that, it is presumed, stands in need of justification or evidence.
If the "prevailing use" (or rather, definition) of argument is found obviously to be lacking or one-sided by several other reliable sources, then is it not equally obvious that the so-called "reliable" sources you cite are lacking or one-sided?
"Dogmatic" is starting to sound generous to me.
Walkinxyz (talk) 03:39, 6 August 2011 (UTC)
The scientific method involves looking at evidence which might refute one's hypothesis, not in finding instances which confirm one's preconceived ideas. And in Wikipedia terms the topic includes all non-fringe parts of it. The topic is argument in logic and philosophy, not just formal arguments in mathematical logic. Personally |I see no reason to have a separate formal version of the topic as we already have a theorem article. Dmcq (talk) 10:43, 6 August 2011 (UTC)

Articles mustn't take sides, but should explain the sides, fairly and without bias. This applies to both what you say and how you say it. Wikipedia:Neutral point of view Other people have to be able to check that you didn't just make things up. This means that all quotations and any material challenged or likely to be challenged must be attributed to a reliable, published source using an inline citation. The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth—whether readers can check that material in Wikipedia has already been published by a reliable source, not whether editors think it is true. Wikipedia:Verifiability

The thirteen citations I have provided, indicate that the prevailing use of the term argument in logic is that it (a) consists of one or more premises and a conclusion (b) the premises purport to support the conclusion (c) in the case of deductive argument, the premises are purported to entail the conclusion (d) Various terms are used in the literature when saying what the premises and the conclusion are including statements, sentences (by which are meant declarative or indicative sentences), propositions, claims. All authors agree that whichever terms they have used , they are referring to whatever it is they consider to be either true or false (i.e. truthbearers ).
None of the citations I have provided say that the premises and conclusion are necessarily claims, and none of them say that they may not be; none of them say that an argument is necessarily an attempt to persuade someone of something, and none of them say that they may not be; none of them say that an argument is necessarily made by a person, and none of them say that they may not be.
(Although my opinion of no account, it does not surprise me that the authors quoted do not require (although they do not disallow) that an argument is necessarily an attempt to persuade someone of something. To restrict arguments in this way would appear to disallow (i) an argument being given as example (ii) an argument being considered silently by one person – from a book perhaps (iii) an argument whose premises are hypotheses (d) an argument being put forward to persuade some of the falsity of the premises (iv) an argument being merely a set of sentences, perhaps generated by a computer. What would be the point of this restriction? Of course one can define a term however one likes, but in Wikipedia we must report how the term is as actually (not how we think it SHOULD be used) used as evidence by reliable sources.)
Other reliable sources may say something else, but I think thirteen citations are as much as you might reasonable expect from one editor!. If I have mis-quoted any author, please accept my apologies but assume good faith (as I assume yours). None of the citations are attempts to say everything that the cited authors have to say on the subject. I have been attempting to summarise the prevailing use of the term argument in logic; other uses may prevail in other disciplines.

With which of (a) to (d) above do editors authors disagree? Please to remember Wikipedia:Civility. — Philogos (talk) 20:27, 8 August 2011 (UTC)

I repeat, you are simply looking up examples of argument in formal logic. Confirmatory instances do not prove something if there are non-confirmatory instances. The topic is argument in philosophy and logic. Dmcq (talk) 21:15, 8 August 2011 (UTC)
I just had a look at your talk page and it looks like you originally set up an article logical argument but that it was merged with argument. It looks like you want this article to be based on mathematical logic rather than anything more fuzzy and language based. Would it perhaps be better to split the article, why was it merged in the first place? Dmcq (talk) 21:39, 8 August 2011 (UTC)
Actually I did not set up a page called "logical argument" - I am totally unfamiliar with that term. I think this article was at one time "argument (logic)" but title was changed to just "argument" on the grounds that its use in logic is the prevalent use. The idea of having TWO articles one for argument as used in logic (and philosophy) and another for other uses of "argument" was discussed at some time but abandoned. It has never been my idea to set up a page about the use of the term in mathematical logic. (articles on mathematical logic are maiantend by a diffent user group, Wikipedia:WikiProject Mathematics; this article is maintained by Wikipedia:WikiProject Logic part of Wikipedia:WikiProject Philosophy. In mathematical logic if the term is used at all it is more like likely to be to mean parameter. In fact arguments per se are but little discussed in logic because since the time of Aristotle logicians have concentrated on Logical form|arguments forms (or schema)]]. Since the nineteen century and the growth of interest in symbolic logc (now called mathematical logic), interest has centered on Logical truth. Proof theory Natural deduction rather than arguments and argument forms. Be all that as it may, I do not think there is a good reason to "split the article" for the following reason. If you look at points (a) though (d) (as requested) you will I think you will see that there is little there with which reliable sources, including those cited by Walkinxyz would disagree. The article could easily define an argument in a most inclusive way, reflecting that with which most authors concur. It could then discuss and state how they disagree. E.g. it might begin (and it’s just a suggestion)

"An argument consists of one or more premises and a conclusion in which the premises purport to support/give reasons for the conclusion. In the case of deductive argument, the premises are purported to entail the conclusion. Various terms are used in the literature when saying what the premises and the conclusion are including statements, sentences (by which are meant declarative or indicative sentences), propositions, claims. All authors agree that whichever term they have used, they are referring to whatever it is they consider to be either true or false (i.e. truthbearer. Some authors require that an argument is made (by a person) who claims that the premises are true in an attempt to persuade another person of the truth of the conclusion.

— Philogos (talk) 22:43, 8 August 2011 (UTC)

Okay so no split. The lead of an article should be accessible to as wide an audience as possible, in WP:TECHNICAL it recommends writing to one level below the target audience for the article. The lead should not start off with a formal definition. A formal definition can follow later on. WP:LEAD gives the general guidelines for writing the lead for an article. Dmcq (talk) 23:24, 8 August 2011 (UTC)
Agree with lead of an article should be accessible.. but it does not follow that The lead should not start off with a formal definition. The WP:TECHNICAL#lead section discusses this, and at WP:TECHNICAL##Add a concrete example gives as an recommend example, from the article verb:
A verb, from the Latin verbum meaning word, is a word (part of speech) that in syntax conveys an action (bring, read, walk, run, learn), or a state of being (be, exist, stand).
which look pretty much like a formal definition to me, followed by an example. Do you think

"An argument consists of one or more premises and a conclusion in which the premises purport to support/give reasons for the conclusion. In the case of deductive argument, the premises are purported to entail the conclusion. Various terms are used in the literature when saying what the premises and the conclusion are including statements, sentences (by which are meant declarative or indicative sentences), propositions, claims. All authors agree that whichever term they have used, they are referring to whatever it is they consider to be either true or false (i.e. truthbearer. Some authors require that an argument is made (by a person) who claims that the premises are true in an attempt to persuade another person of the truth of the conclusion.

is too technical (agreed there is no example)? Do think it it more technical than. for example,

A verb, from the Latin verbum meaning word, is a word (part of speech) that in syntax conveys an action (bring, read, walk, run, learn), or a state of being (be, exist, stand).

or

Extreme physical information (EPI) is a principle, first described and formulated in 1998[1] by B. Roy Frieden, Emeritus Professor of Optical Sciences at the University of Arizona, that states, the precipitation of scientific laws can be derived through Fisher information, taking the form of differential equations and probability distribution functions.

In classical mechanics, momentum (pl. momenta; SI unit kg·m/s, or, equivalently, N·s) is the product of the mass and velocity of an object (\mathbf{p} = m\mathbf{v}).

Visual calculus by Mamikon Mnatsakanian (known as Mamikon) is an approach to solving a variety of integral calculus problems.[2] Many problems that would otherwise seem quite difficult yield to the method with hardly a line of calculation, often reminiscent of what Martin Gardner calls "aha! solutions" or Roger Nelsen a proof without words.[3][4]

In physics, a force is any influence that causes a free body to undergo a change in speed, a change in direction, or a change in shape. Force can also be described by intuitive concepts such as a push or pull that can cause an object with mass to change its velocity (which includes to begin moving from a state of rest), i.e., to accelerate, or which can cause a flexible object to deform.

In logic, the corresponding conditional of an argument (or derivation) is a material conditional whose antecedent is the conjunction of the argument's (or derivation's) premises and whose consequent is the argument's conclusion. An argument is valid if and only if its corresponding conditional is a logical truth. It follows that an argument is valid if and only if the negation of its corresponding conditional is a contradiction. The construction of a corresponding conditional therefore provides a useful technique for determining the validity of argument.

Philosophy is the rational[5] study of general subjects concerning which certainty cannot easily be established scientifically or by simple observation.

Music is an art form whose medium is sound and silence. Common elements of music are pitch (which governs melody and harmony), rhythm (and its associated concepts tempo, meter, and articulation), dynamics, and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture. The word derives from Greek μουσική (mousike; "art of the Muses").[6]

— Philogos (talk) 23:53, 8 August 2011 (UTC)

Philogo, once again, please see the Wikipedia philosophy style guide, which suggests that the first sentence identify the subject ontologically – i.e. what kind of thing it is. Each of your examples above does that ("word"; "principle"; "material conditional"; "approach"; "art"; etc.) except your own proposed definition of argument. To say that an argument "consists of" is to bypass saying what it is.

(Although you could say it is a "set" of things, that again bypasses the well-documented functional definition of argument. To quote Johnson again: "[A]rgument has its structure (reasons in support of a thesis, or premises plus conclusion) because of the purpose it serves – rational persuasion." You would not say that an automobile is a set of – or consists of – mechanical parts arranged in such a way that the wheels support the frame, the frame supports the body, the body supports… etc. You would say that it is "a wheeled motor vehicle used for transporting passengers, which also carries its own engine or motor.")

Therefore, to say that the kind of thing it is, is an "attempt to…" seems perfectly right to me. You could also say that it is "a statement or set of statements intended to support, justify or give evidence for a particular claim, conclusion or line of reasoning." And then proceed with a more technical definition. However, that would fall short of Johnson and Rowland's condition that:

[A] good definition [of argument] must stress both the function of argument and its rational nature: "The rational function of argument makes evaluation [i.e. whether it is persuasive or not according to particular criteria] a necessary component of any adequate theory of argument" (Rowland, 1987, p.150)

Note that their conditions are consistent with a definition of Logic as "the formal systematic study of the principles of valid inference and correct reasoning." (Not just strict technical "validity" but "valid inference".)

To restrict arguments in this way would appear to disallow (i) an argument being given as example (ii) an argument being considered silently by one person – from a book perhaps (iii) an argument whose premises are hypotheses (d) an argument being put forward to persuade some of the falsity of the premises (iv) an argument being merely a set of sentences, perhaps generated by a computer.

I think you are in fact wrong about each one of these points. (i) would merely be an example of a (perhaps hypothetical) attempt to persuade someone of something; (ii) would be the argument considered from the perspective of someone to whom the attempt is addressed ; (iii) would be an attempt to persuade someone that the hypotheses, if accepted, could plausibly lead one to accept the conclusion; (iv-1) (d?) would still be an attempt to persuade someone of something – no matter how self-contradictory; (iv-2) would necessarily be derivative of what an argument is in practice – and I would argue meet the structural conditions of an argument, but not the functional conditions, which are just as important.

All of the supposed exceptions that you name are, I think, reasonably compatible with the general definition provided currently ("an attempt to persuade someone of something.") I will point out that you will never produce a schematic definition of argument that agrees with every source (i.e. the sources that disconfirm an exclusively structural view of argument), and therefore you must generalize as we do when we define things.

Nor will all generalizations in every instance be applicable. (A car can also be taken variously as a planter for flowers, a status symbol, or a set piece in a film – but a car is still nonetheless a "a wheeled motor vehicle used for transporting passengers"). That doesn't make them inapplicable, it just makes them generally applicable. A logician like you may crave more, but there is no such absolute (even a "verifiable" one) when it comes to such a definition. Walkinxyz (talk) 03:42, 9 August 2011 (UTC)

Other reliable sources may say something else, but I think thirteen citations are as much as you might reasonable expect from one editor!

As I said, you have ignored additional material in your own cited sources. And it is not a war of numbers to persuade us – consensus is what rules here – but valid inference and correct reasoning. Full stop. Walkinxyz (talk) 04:44, 9 August 2011 (UTC)

Look at those fields. The thirteen sheep in the field to the left are all white. That shows that sheep are white. That's the sort of reasoning I see here. Dmcq (talk) 07:32, 9 August 2011 (UTC)
Its not a matter of reasoning: it is a matter of representing fairly, proportionately, and as far as possible without bias, all significant views that have been published by reliable sources as per Wikipedia:Neutral point of view. So do other editors think that
  • (1) the thirteen citations provided are from published reliable sources?
  • (2) Do they that the prevailing use of the term argument in logic is that

    it (a) consists of one or more premises and a conclusion (b) the premises purport to support the conclusion (c) in the case of deductive argument, the premises are purported to entail the conclusion (d) Various terms are used in the literature when saying what the premises and the conclusion are including statements, sentences (by which are meant declarative or indicative sentences), propositions, claims. All authors agree that whichever terms they have used , they are referring to whatever it is they consider to be either true or false (i.e. truthbearers ).

  • (3) Does the following form of words follow and reflect that consensus:

    "An argument consists of one or more premises and a conclusion in which the premises purport to support/give reasons for the conclusion. In the case of deductive argument, the premises are purported to entail the conclusion. Various terms are used in the literature when saying what the premises and the conclusion are including statements, sentences (by which are meant declarative or indicative sentences), propositions, claims. All authors agree that whichever term they have used, they are referring to whatever it is they consider to be either true or false (i.e. truthbearer. Some authors require that an argument is made (by a person) who claims that the premises are true in an attempt to persuade another person of the truth of the conclusion.

  • (4) Are the views if the other reliable sources provided by the other editors at variance with 2 & 3 above?
with regard to the word "consists" in above passages, it is easily replaced by "is" as

"An argument is one or more premises and a conclusion in which the premises purport to support/give reasons for the conclusion. In the case of deductive argument, the premises are purported to entail the conclusion. Various terms are used in the literature when saying what the premises and the conclusion are including statements, sentences (by which are meant declarative or indicative sentences), propositions, claims. All authors agree that whichever term they have used, they are referring to whatever it is they consider to be either true or false (i.e. truthbearer. Some authors require that an argument is made (by a person) who claims that the premises are true in an attempt to persuade another person of the truth of the conclusion.

— Philogos (talk) 12:57, 9 August 2011 (UTC)
The article starts "In philosophy and logic,...". This section is however titled "Argument: Prevailing usage in logic". Why the disparity? Dmcq (talk) 17:30, 9 August 2011 (UTC)
The cap was "In logic" but Walkinxyz changed it to In philosophy and logic,...". If you like you can take the section heading here to be "Argument: Prevailing usage in logic and philosophy" . I was rather hoping you would reply to my "So do other editors think that .." above. Reason: If the article is to be written from a neutral point of view then it must fairly, proportionately, and as far as possible without bias, all significant views that have been published by reliable sources. This policy is non-negotiable and all editors and articles must follow it. To this end I am seeking to discover that with which all or reliable sources concur. I think the concurrence is great and the divergence is small, but I seek YOUR (and other editor's) view on that, with achieving consensus in mind. — Philogos (talk) 01:48, 11 August 2011 (UTC)

Its not a matter of reasoning: it is a matter of representing fairly, proportionately, and as far as possible without bias, all significant views that have been published by reliable sources as per Wikipedia:Neutral point of view.

In my opinion the current definition achieves that goal, and more importantly, does it while communicating to the general reader in clear terms what is important about the subject, which is the job of an encyclopedia. Your questions above don't really seem to touch this issue, though you do seem to be quite worried about the definition for some reason that isn't clear to me. I should point out, for the sake of being as helpful as possible, that our article is not a review of definitions. If you want to write one, you could do worse than to start with Johnson. His is the only reliable review of definitions of argument that I know.
Walkinxyz (talk) 06:19, 11 August 2011 (UTC)
This whole section is only really applicable to a subsection about argument in logic which can then be summarized in the lead which clearly states the topic is argument in philosophy and logic. What is the point in persisting in posting wadges of references for the wrong thing? Dmcq (talk) 11:32, 11 August 2011 (UTC)
Be that as it may, do you and other editors think that
  • (1) the thirteen citations provided are from published reliable sources?
  • (2) Do they that the prevailing use of the term argument in logic is that

    it (a) consists of one or more premises and a conclusion (b) the premises purport to support the conclusion (c) in the case of deductive argument, the premises are purported to entail the conclusion (d) Various terms are used in the literature when saying what the premises and the conclusion are including statements, sentences (by which are meant declarative or indicative sentences), propositions, claims. All authors agree that whichever terms they have used , they are referring to whatever it is they consider to be either true or false (i.e. truthbearers ).

  • (3) Does the following form of words follow and reflect that consensus:

    "An argument consists of one or more premises and a conclusion in which the premises purport to support/give reasons for the conclusion. In the case of deductive argument, the premises are purported to entail the conclusion. Various terms are used in the literature when saying what the premises and the conclusion are including statements, sentences (by which are meant declarative or indicative sentences), propositions, claims. All authors agree that whichever term they have used, they are referring to whatever it is they consider to be either true or false (i.e. truthbearer. Some authors require that an argument is made (by a person) who claims that the premises are true in an attempt to persuade another person of the truth of the conclusion.

  • (4) Are the views if the other reliable sources provided by the other editors at variance with 2 & 3 above?
with regard to the word "consists" in above passages, it is easily replaced by "is" as

"An argument is one or more premises and a conclusion in which the premises purport to support/give reasons for the conclusion. In the case of deductive argument, the premises are purported to entail the conclusion. Various terms are used in the literature when saying what the premises and the conclusion are including statements, sentences (by which are meant declarative or indicative sentences), propositions, claims. All authors agree that whichever term they have used, they are referring to whatever it is they consider to be either true or false (i.e. truthbearer. Some authors require that an argument is made (by a person) who claims that the premises are true in an attempt to persuade another person of the truth of the conclusion.

— Philogos (talk) 12:09, 11 August 2011 (UTC)

Plus I would have some objection even if the topic was logic rather than formal logic. Wikipedia is an encyclopaedia and the lead should explain the subject for someone who has not had any training in the subject and is just looking it up. One should always aim one level down. The formal definitions can be left to a section of the article, for instance many maths articles have a 'Definition' section and describe the topic more loosely in the lead. This is described in WP:TECHNICAL and WP:LEAD. For instance in Exponential function the formal definition is given in the second section down after overview. And even so I'd guess some people think the start and overview are too technical for the target audience. Theorem might be a better model here, it is after all just the maths name for the same idea, and there anything formal is left to the end. Dmcq (talk) 12:11, 11 August 2011 (UTC)

Prevailing use of "Argument" in logic continued[edit]

Do other editors think that
  • (1) the thirteen citations provided above are from published reliable sources?
  • (2) the thirteen citations provided above indicate that the prevailing use of the term argument in logic is that

    it (a) consists of one or more premises and a conclusion (b) the premises purport to support the conclusion (c) in the case of deductive argument, the premises are purported to entail the conclusion (d) Various terms are used in the literature when saying what the premises and the conclusion are including statements, sentences (by which are meant declarative or indicative sentences), propositions, claims. All authors agree that whichever terms they have used , they are referring to whatever it is they consider to be either true or false (i.e. truthbearers ).

  • (3) Does the following form of words follow and reflect that consensus:

An argument is one or more premises and a conclusion in which the premises purport to support/give reasons for the conclusion. In the case of deductive argument, the premises are purported to entail the conclusion. Some authors require that an argument is made (by a person) who claims that the premises are true in an attempt to persuade another person of the truth of the conclusion.

Various terms are used in the literature when saying what the premises and the conclusion are including statements, sentences (by which are meant declarative or indicative sentences), propositions, claims. All authors agree, however, that whichever term they have used, they are referring to whatever it is they consider to be either true or false (i.e. truthbearer.

  • (4) Are the views if the other reliable sources provided by the other editors at variance with 2 & 3 above?

— Philogos (talk) 12:09, 11 August 2011 (UTC)

There are very many textbooks perhaps most, all reliable sources, that define the exponential function by the first series in Exponential function#Formal definition
e^x = \sum_{n = 0}^{\infty} {x^n \over n!} = 1 + x + {x^2 \over 2!} + {x^3 \over 3!} + {x^4 \over 4!} + \cdots.
As shown in Characterizations of the exponential function this is equivalent to the other definitions in that section which are also given by many different reliable sources.
And yet the article starts off with "In mathematics, the exponential function is the function ex, where e is the number (approximately 2.718281828) such that the function ex is its own derivative", which is also reliably sourced but is not any of the definitions in the 'Formal definition' section. It is close to another of the definitions given later on but not complete. In fact it would have been more accessible if it had simply talked of being that constant exponentiated to the power x, however exponentiation to the power of a real number is normally deined in terms of the exponential function so that would have caused a circular loop. There was no easy way to get a compromise between the formalists wishing to avoid a loop and the people wanting an accessible article there so you'll notice there is no reference to exponentiation in the lead even though it is obvious there should be one. Does any of this make sense to you? Do you think the first line of that article should have given the power series above like some people wanted? Dmcq (talk) 13:04, 11 August 2011 (UTC)
I think you've both done an impressive amount of research and it shows in the article. Philogo, I think you're precision really comes through in what you have here. I find myself pausing naturally at each point, assimilating and relating it with the prior points, proceeding to the next... I think students, especially, would appreciate such a methodical treatment in a section of the article. Walkinxyz's lede reads much easier, it ushers the reader briskly into the article, drawing attention to all the major points of interest along the way. It seems like a question of how to keep moving forward after an intense development cycle, with outstanding results having been achieved thus far.—Machine Elf 1735 16:35, 11 August 2011 (UTC)
Thanks, ME. Let's think about how to bring everything in the rest of the article to a standard that can recommend itself for such an important subject. Walkinxyz (talk) 02:18, 13 August 2011 (UTC)
    • ^ Frieden, B. Roy Physics from Fisher Information: A Unification , 1st Ed. Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-63167-X, pp328, 1998 ([ref name="Frieden6"] shows 2nd Ed.)
    • ^ Visual Calculus Mamikon Mnatsakanian
    • ^ Nelsen, Roger B. (1993). Proofs without Words, Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780883857007.
    • ^ Martin Gardner (1978) Aha! Insight, W.H. Freeman & Company; ISBN 0-7167-1017-X
    • ^ Anthony Quinton, in T. Honderich (ed.), The Oxford Companion to Philosophy (Oxford University Press, 1995), p. 666: "Philosophy is rationally critical thinking, of a more or less systematic kind about the general nature of the world (metaphysics or theory of existence), the justification of belief (epistemology or theory of knowledge), and the conduct of life (ethics or theory of value). Each of the three elements in this list has a non-philosophical counterpart, from which it is distinguished by its explicitly rational and critical way of proceeding and by its systematic nature. Everyone has some general conception of the nature of the world in which they live and of their place in it. Metaphysics replaces the unargued assumptions embodied in such a conception with a rational and organized body of beliefs about the world as a whole. Everyone has occasion to doubt and question beliefs, their own or those of others, with more or less success and without any theory of what they are doing. Epistemology seeks by argument to make explicit the rules of correct belief formation. Everyone governs their conduct by directing it to desired or valued ends. Ethics, or moral philosophy, in its most inclusive sense, seeks to articulate, in rationally systematic form, the rules or principles involved."
    • ^ Mousike, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, at Perseus