The Science Of Scientific Writing    Set 9    Set 9-Analysis mapsSecond pageExampleExercise 1Exercise 2Exercise 3Exercise 4Exercise 5Refinement RevisitedRabbit RuleHolding Hands RuleExercise 6Inference objectionsExercise 7Exercise 8 Final.

Course Home

OVERVIEW: The way to well-written science

How to do the Course


PART I: Paragraphs and Sentences

SET A: Paragraphs: The Maps Behind Them

SET B: Paragraphs: Using Maps to Meet Readers' Expectations

SET C: Paragraphs with Something Extra: Points and Tails

SET D: The Generic Section: Expectations and Maps as Blueprints

SET E: Scientific Sections: The Methods and Results

SET F: Scientific Sections: The Discussion

SET G : Scientific Sections: The Introduction

SET H : Sentences

SET I : The Paper as a Whole



PART II: The Paper and its Sections


SET 1: Argument Parts

SET 2: Indicator Words

SET 3: Refining Claims

SET 4: Locating Arguments in Prose

SET 5: Rationale's Essay Planner

SET 6: Evidence in Arguments: Basis Boxes

SET 7: Assessing

SET 8: More on Assessing

SET 9: Analysis Maps

SET 10: Assessing Again

Synthesis 1: Position-Early Paragraphs

Synthesis 2: Position-Final Paragraphs

Synthesis 3: Writing a Discussion I

Synthesis 4: Writing a Discussion II

Refining Claims, Revisited

In Set 3 we were introduced to the need to refine our claims, such that:

  • there was no reasoning in a box
  • there was only one thought per box
  • each claim was a full sentence
  • each claim was capable of being true or false
  • there were no words that didn't contribute to the claim's argumentative force
  • claims were easy to understand
  • claims could make sense when read in isolation

Now that you have a feel for identifying and including assumptions, it's a good time to think more about refining claims, taking what we learnt in Set 3 a little further. These rules are major weapons against the most deadly challenge you face when trying to craft a tight argument: The Curse of the Chinese Whispers!

We will look at three important rules for argument construction:

  • The Binary Rule
  • The Rabbit Rule
  • The Holding Hands Rule

The Binary Rule

Consider this argument:


This is a classic, generic, three part argument comprising

1. A claim

2. A supporting reason

3. An assumption.

The three component claims illustrate some generic features we should aim for in ALL the claims used in an argument. To see this first look at a slightly reformatted version:

We see that only THREE "things" (technically called 'terms' in logic) are referred to:

  • Dogs
  • [animals that suckle their young]

and most importantly, any one claim only refers to one PAIR of terms derived from the larger set (The Binary Rule). This is the way to formulate ALL your claims, i.e. that they are basically sentences that say:

"An X is a Y"

(e.g. Dogs are mammals; Mammals are animals that suckle their young)


"An X is something with property Y"

( e.g. "Dogs have fur")

We can create a "shorthand" version of our Dog argument, using these ideas, and it is now very easy to see how each claims only has TWO terms.


What happens if we don't stick to the Binary Rule? Each of the claims of the following argument contains THREE terms. Do you agree that this makes the job of pulling out the central argument a lot more difficult?



Content of this page drawn in whole or part from the Austhink Rationale Exercises with permission from Austhink.