OCR AS Critical Thinking - Words you need to know

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What is an argument?

Argument- One view point only (a conclusion) and evidence to back it up (reasons). If it lacks any reasons, it may strictly be described as a claim or an assertion.

This can include an intermediate conclusion- a conclusion drawn from one or two reasons that can summarise some of the points made, but is only made on the way to the main conclusion. 

It must be an attempt to persuade. If there is no attempt to persuade, even if it contains some of the components of reasons and conclusion, it is an explanation.

Arguments often contain indicator words- such as therefore, so, hence or thus before a conclusion, or must, should, ought, need within the conclusion. It can also contains phrases such as it is important/essential/right/wrong.

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An assumption is an unstated part of an argument. It is something which is taken for granted and is not mentioned directly in the text, as it appears obvious to the arguer. Sometimes, assumptions are called suppositions.

Many assumptions made are reasonable ones to make, therefore they do necessarily weaken arguments. Most people accept them as sound, safe or justified.

However, on occasion arguers can make false or unjustified assumptions and it is important to identify these flaws in the reasoning. Try to suggest an alternative assumption when commenting on these.

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