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Chapter 12 Lecture Notes
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  1. Chapter 12 Lecture Notes Conductive Arguments and Counterconsiderations

  2. Chapter 12 Conductive arguments were defined and developed by philosophy Carl Wellman. In order to understand conductive arguments, it is useful to think back to the convergent support patters defined in chapter two like figure 2.12 to the right. Included we also have figure 12.1 to the right where there are more convergent reasons to the same conclusion.

  3. Chapter 12 When evaluating conductive arguments, we still use the ARG conditions. The (A) condition still applies to each premise. Are the acceptable. The (R) condition of relevance is assessed to each premise separately. The (G) condition of good grounds, for conductive arguments we consider the premises together, in the light of other evidence that might count against the conclusion.

  4. Chapter 12 Some additional names for conductive argument might help explain how they work: • Cumulation of consideration arguments • Balance of consideration arguments • Good reasons arguments (iii) Makes sense as a name b/c these kind of argument aren’t deductive and they aren’t IBEs, analogies, or inductive generalizations, but the reasons in these arguments might not be good because they commit some fallacy or other and thus we won’t use (iii)

  5. Chapter 12 Conductive argument premises are put forward separately as relevant to the conclusion. Some analysts think this is a reason to break conductive arguments into separate arguments. We will not adopt this approach for three basic reasons. • Diverse considerations in conductive arguments are characteristically put forward together. • If we broke the conductive argument into separate arguments, we would have difficulty evaluating the premises that are put forth together. • Several prominent, credible authorities on logic claim they exist. See pages 353 to 354 for a fuller discussion.

  6. Chapter 12 “Conductive arguments are common in reasoning about practical affairs, where a number of separate factors have a bearing on decisions about what to do” (354) Legal arguments Scientific arguments Human behavior Literary texts Historical events All of these kinds of topics and argument are ripe for conductive argument forms.

  7. Chapter 12 In a cogent conductive argument, the premises must be positively relevant to the conclusion. When there are reasons to count against a premise this is called a counterconsideration. We can diagram counterconsiderations similar regular arguments see figure 12.3 below. The wavy lines are counterconsiderations.

  8. Chapter 12 Contrary to the diagram, counterconsiderations are not put forward as premises by the arguer. When counterconsiderations are put forward they are not thought to outweigh the rest of the premises in the conductive argument. It is acceptable to point out counterconsiderations in you argument as a way to deal with possible objections before the happen. It is a way to show that the possible objection is not as relevant as the other premises.

  9. Chapter 12 Here are some classic words that introduce counterconsiderations: Though While granting that Although Even granting that Even though Even allowing that Despite the fact that Admitting that Notwithstanding the fact that See page 356 for a detailed explanation of these terms.

  10. Chapter 12 Here is a list of terms that indicates a return to the main theme after the introduction of a counterconsideration. Nevertheless However Yet And yet Still But Even so Notwithstanding the fact that Acknowledging a counterconsideration does not weaken an argument, but in fact, can strengthen a conductive argument. Review counterconsiderations pages 355-7.

  11. Chapter 12 It is very difficult to give general guidelines for evaluating conductive arguments. For the (A) and (R) conditions, things are the same as with all other arguments. Where things get difficult is when we are considering good grounds, the (G) condition. When it comes to (G) we have to consider the collective or cumulative force of the premises. How well do they support the conclusion as a collective. This is different that deductive and other inductive arguments. See pages 359-66 for a detailed example.

  12. Chapter 12 Counterconsiderations (or objections) in other contexts. A counterconsideration for non-conductive arguments is just an objection. Considering objections or counterconsiderations is an important part of argument analysis. For deductive arguments the only way to object to them if the (R) and (G) conditions are satisfied via deductive validity, is to object to the (A) condition of the premises.

  13. Chapter 12 Just like deductive arguments, inductive arguments, inductive generalizations, statistical syllogisms, analogies, and abductive arguments can have objections to the premises or the (A) condition. The difference between these argument forms and deductive arguments is that we can object to the (R) and (G) conditions that govern these arguments as well. This means that there are other considerations for these arguments than acceptable premises.

  14. Chapter 12 One thing that is very important to understanding arguments and objections is to be able to express alternative positions. If you cannot understand the position of another person or arguer, then you cannot object to it in a relevant way. Being able to think of other positions inconsistent with one’s own is a skill that can be developed, and must be developed in order to generate relevant objections to arguments.

  15. Chapter 12 One of the reasons to work on understanding alternative positions and objections is because of the psychological fact ofconfirmation bias. “Confirmation bias is the tendency to notice, credit, and recall information and argument that support one’s own beliefs and opinions wile ignoring, forgetting, or discrediting information and arguments that disconfirm those beliefs and opinions” (375) Learning to provide relevant objections is as important to analysis as finding the premises and conclusion.

  16. Chapter 12 Terms to review: Alternative position Ceteris paribus Conductive argument Ceteris paribus clause Confirmation bias Counterconsideration Generality of reasons Objection Tunnel vision