Sure. Let's start with "premise," "fact," and "evidence." These are all different words for a statement that we accept as true. For the most part, these terms are interchangeable, but "premise" and "evidence" imply that the information is being used to support an argument, while "fact" might in some cases refer to information that is not used to support one side or the other.
"Context" is going to be more neutral. If something is context, it is providing the background for the argument, but doesn't itself constitute an argument. Typically, context will be factual, but some kind of initial position or disagreement could also serve as context (this is less likely).
A "consideration" is something we need to consider in making a decision. This will generally also be a premise, but it is likely to be something new that is introduced after an initial argument. For instance, I might say that because John was late to his interview, we shouldn’t hire him. If you point out that John was hit by a car on his way to the interview, that would be a consideration introduced to counter my conclusion.
A “principle” is a different sort of premise—it’s not a fact, but rather an initial idea upon which we build. For instance, I might say “No one who has committed a felony should be allowed to run for governor. Candidate X robbed a bank, so she should not be allowed to run for governor.” In this case, “Candidate X robbed a bank” is a factual premise, while “No one who has committed a felony should be allowed to run for governor” is a principle. For the purposes of the argument, we would grant both of them as true. Therefore, the only assumption in this argument is that robbing the bank was a felony.
“Judgment” is tricky. It sounds like a conclusion, but it may refer to a sub-conclusion or principle. For instance, in #123 in OG 13
, it is used to refer to a premise. We are basically told that “If people are right to believe X, then Y is also true.”
“Position” means conclusion. It may refer either to the author’s conclusion or an opposing position that the author is refuting.
This was fun! Let me know if you come across any more troublesome vocab.
Dmitry Farber | Manhattan GMAT Instructor | New York
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