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Critical Reasoning 101: Argument Structure

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Critical Reasoning 101: Argument Structure [#permalink]

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New post 30 Jun 2014, 02:46
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Critical Reasoning 101: Argument Structure



Different components of an argument


The mayor of the city recently announced the construction of seventeen high-rise buildings in and around the area of Mira road, a northern suburb of Mumbai. The construction of these new buildings will create a large amount of pollution, a nuisance for residents who live near the construction sites. However, many of the residents in the neighborhood work in civil and mechanical construction, and the contract to construct the buildings has been tendered to a local construction company. So, the construction of the buildings will lead to an increased quality of life for the residents of Mira road.

Background, Conclusion, Premise, Conclusion

Premise: A premise is a piece of information used by the author to support a claim or a conclusion. The information can be either a fact or an opinion. In the above example, the sentence in red (sentence 3) is a premise because it helps to support the author’s conclusion. On the GMAT, all arguments will have at least one premise.
Conclusion: A conclusion is a claim that the author is trying to prove. This is easily the most important sentence in the argument. For example, the last sentence in green is an example of a conclusion.
Background Information: Some arguments contain sentences that provides context to let us know the basics of the situation. For example, sentence 1 in yellow provides context.
Counterpoint or Counterpremise: A piece of information that goes against the author’s conclusion. In the above example, sentence 2 represents a counterpoint because it goes against the author’s conclusion.

How to classify the argument into different structures:


Argument: The mayor of the city recently announced the construction of seventeen high-rise buildings in and around the area of Mira road, a northern suburb of Mumbai.
Thoughts: This is likely to be background information because it introduces a plan in form of an announcement. The argument is probably going to be about the announcement or the result of it.
Argument: The construction of these new buildings will create a large amount of pollution, a nuisance for residents who live near the construction sites.
Thoughts: This is in the “claim” area. This talks about something negative that will come out of the project. Why are they telling me this? I can’t figure out till I read further.
Argument: However, many of the residents in the neighborhood work in civil and mechanical construction, and the contract to construct the buildings has been tendered to a local construction company.
Thoughts: This starts with a contrast, signified by “however”. This goes against the contrast sentence above. Looks like one of these statements is a premise and the other a counterpoint.
Argument: So, the construction of the buildings will lead to an increased quality of life for the residents of Mira road.
Thoughts: This is definitely a conclusion, marked by “so”.

Not all arguments will have a conclusion. The premise and the conclusion form the core of an argument. In the above sentence the core is defined by

However, many of the residents in the neighborhood work in civil and mechanical construction, and the contract to construct the buildings has been tendered to a local construction company. → So, the construction of the buildings will lead to an increased quality of life for the residents of Mira road.

Building blocks of an argument.


Premise
• Part of the core of the argument; present in every argument
• Supports the authors conclusion
• Can be a fact or an opinion; can be a description, historical information, statistical or numerical data, or a comparison of things
• Often signaled by words or phrases such as because o f since, due to, and as a result of

Conclusion
• Part of the core of an argument; present in most arguments
• Represents the authors main opinion or claim; can be in the form of a prediction, a judgment of quality or merit, or a statement of causality
• Is supported by at least one premise
• Often signaled by words such as therefore, thus, so , and consequently (though note that harder arguments might use such a word elsewhere in the argument in an attempt to confuse us)

Background
• Not part of the core; often present, but not always
• Provides context to help understand the core
• Almost always fact-based; can be in almost any form: historical information, numerical or other data, descriptions of plans or ideas, definitions of words or concepts, and so on

Counterpoint
• Not part of the core; only present occasionally
• Opposes or goes against the authors conclusion in some way
• Introduces multiple opportunities for traps: believing that the conclusion is the opposite of what it is, mistakenly labeling a counterpoint the premise (and vice versa), and so on
• Often signaled by transition words such as however, yet, and but\ typically, the transition word will be found somewhere between the counter-premise and the conclusion (though the two sentences may not be right next to each other)

Follow up exercise:


Break down the following arguments into Premise, Conclusion, Background and Counter-point!
1. Budget Fitness will grow its membership base by 10% in the next six months. Budget Fitness has recently crafted a clever ad campaign that it plans to air on several local radio stations.

2. Last year, the Hudson Family Farm was not profitable. However, the farm will be profitable this year. The farm operators have planted cotton, rather than corn, in several fields. Because cotton prices are expected to rise dramatically this year, the farm can expect larger revenues from cotton sales than it previously earned from corn.

This is the first part of the Critical Reasoning 101 Series. One CR article every week. Watch this space next Monday for the next.

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Re: Critical Reasoning 101: Argument Structure [#permalink]

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New post 09 Jul 2014, 22:31
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Re: Critical Reasoning 101: Argument Structure [#permalink]

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New post 28 Aug 2016, 06:52
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Re: Critical Reasoning 101: Argument Structure   [#permalink] 28 Aug 2016, 06:52
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