Were I to tell you that I just had an argument with my spouse, you might assume a number of things about that argument. For instance, you might immediately think that my spouse and I were involved in a disagreement or dispute of some kind. You might also think that any of the following were involved: anger, harsh words, door slamming, object throwing – you get the picture!
In logic (and in most academic subjects), we use the word “argument” very differently. An argument is not a disagreement and no emotion is involved in expressing an argument. Rather, an argument is simply the expression of one opinion of some matter, with support given for that opinion. The expression of the opinion in an argument is called the argument’s conclusion, and the expression of the support for that opinion is called the argument’s premises. Premises and conclusions are always expressed in the form of declarative sentences or statements. Such statements are always said to have truth value (which means that they are either true of false).
One of the most important tasks in argument analysis is figuring out what the author intends as his/her conclusion, and what he/she intends as support (premises) for that conclusion. Fortunately, we have words in English that can give us clues to the author’s intention. Often in an argument, the author will use certain words that clue the reader in on whether he/she intends to be stating a premise or conclusion. These words are called indicator words. Here are two lists: premise indicator words and conclusion indicator words.
... and ... so ... but ... thus since ... hence because ... therefore however.. consequently assuming that ... accordingly inasmuch as ... it follows that nevertheless ... which implies that this is why ... which means that implied by ... one can conclude that
Sometimes, an author chooses not to include any indicator words. In an…