The Science Of Scientific Writing    Set 1     Set 1-Argument Parts : Second Page : Third Page :Fourth Page :Example : Exercise 1 : Exercise 2 : Exercise 3 : Exercise 4 : Exercise 5 : Final Page - Set 1.

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OVERVIEW: The way to well-written science

How to do the Course


PART I: Paragraphs and Sentences...

SET 1: The Parts of Arguments

SET 2: Indicator Words

SET 3: Refining Claims

SET 4: Locating Arguments in Prose

SET 5: Rationale's Essay Planner

SET 6: Assessing

SET 7 : More on Assessing


An argument is a set of one or more reasons or objections bearing upon some claim.

Arguments have a number of key components:

  • A position is the main claim under consideration. It can also be called the contention, the conclusion, the issue, assertion, hypothesis or opinion: many different words are used in different contexts to describe it - and also other basic elments of an argument. The position statement must be an idea that is debatable, that is some people will believe it to be true, while others believe it to be false, or as yet unclarified. In Rationale we will represent a position with a white box:


  • A reason provides evidence that the position statment, or a secondary claim, is true. Reasons go in green boxes:


The Word "because" can have two uses in logical thinking

Note: The word "reason" as used when talking about an Argument has a different meaning than when it is used when talking about an Explanation. Explanations are a big part of science, and explanations and arguments have lot in common. As noted by David Kelley in his excellent book "The Art of Reasoning", they have the same internal structure, and the logical relationships between component elements are often identical. As he pithily says though:

"The difference lies in their goals: an argument tries to show that something is true; an explanation tries to show why it is true"

An explanation might concern itself over why the sky is blue, whereas an argument might try to convince us that the sky is a lonely place. As such, explanations deal with "effect-cause" relationships rather than those between "positions-claims".

We will discuss this distinction more a bit later.

You will often find it useful to double-check your arguments to see whether you have introduced explanatory rather than argumentative elements.

There will be a quiz at the end of this Set on the difference between Arguments and Explanations.



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