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Premise, Inference, Conclusion

December 8th, 2013


One or more propositions are necessary for the argument to continue. They must be stated explicitly. They are called the premises of the argument. They are the evidence (or reasons) for accepting the argument and its conclusions.

Premises (or assertions) are often indicated by phrases such as “because”, “since”, “obviously” and so on.

(The phrase “obviously” is often viewed with suspicion, as it can be used to intimidate others into accepting dubious premises. If something doesn’t seem obvious to you, don’t be afraid to question it. You can always say “Oh, yes, you’re right, it is obvious” when you’ve heard the explanation.)



The premises of the argument are used to obtain further propositions. This process is known as inference. In inference, we start with one or more propositions which have been accepted. We then derive a new proposition. There are various forms of valid inference.

The propositions arrived at by inference may then be used in further inference. Inference is often denoted by phrases such as “implies that” or “therefore”.



Finally, we arrive at the conclusion of the argument, another proposition. The conclusion is often stated as the final stage of inference. It is affirmed on the basis the original premises, and the inference from them. Conclusions are often indicated by phrases such as “therefore”, “it follows that”, “we conclude” and so on.

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Categories: Logic