Wednesday, February 01, 2012
What is an argument?
What is an argument? Actually there is a little bit of an ambiguity in the use of that word, because it can mean 1) and unpleasant dispute, or 2) a set of statements designed to give someone a reason for believing something. This famous Monty Python comedy sketch exploits this ambiguity brilliantly. Michael Palin is expecting an argument in the second sense, but John Cleese just keeps contradicting him, assuming that that is what an argument is. But when we talk about argument in philosophy, what we have in mind is an attempt to show that something is true. Logic is, to a large extent, the attempt to analyze arguments, to determine how strong they are, and if they commit any fallacies, that is, faulty reasoning patterns.