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The Types Of Argument In Philosophy You’ll Encounter

Wondering how to engage in philosophical discourse? Well, you must first be familiar with the different types of arguments.

Without knowledge of the different types of arguments, you’ll find yourself lost in philosophical conversation.

This blog will introduce you to the three most common types of arguments; deductive, inductive, and abductive- so that you can enter any debate prepared.

Types Of Arguments In Philosophy And Logic

If you’re studying philosophy, you’ll come across three types of arguments. Each type of philosophical argument is used for a specific purpose, and understanding the different types will help you argue your point more effectively.

Let’s take a look at each type of reasoning in philosophy in more detail.

Deductive Arguments

Deductive arguments are the most straightforward type of argument. In a deductive argument, the conclusion is logically derived from the premises. 

For example, consider the following argument:

Premise 1: All humans are mortal
Premise 2: Socrates is a human
Conclusion: Socrates is mortal

In this example, the conclusion is logically drawn from the truth of the premises. If all humans are mortal and Socrates is a human, then it follows that Socrates is mortal. 

Deductive logic is considered valid if and only if the conclusion necessarily follows from the premises.

An invalid deductive argument will still have a logically valid conclusion. But in this case, the conclusion doesn’t necessarily follow from the premises. 

For example, consider this argument:

Premise 1: All politicians are liars
Premise 2: John is a politician
Conclusion: John is a liar

Even though the conclusion follows logically from the premises, it’s not necessarily true. Just because someone is a politician doesn’t mean they’re automatically a liar. This makes the argument invalid.

Inductive Arguments

Inductive argument is a valid argument. They are used to support a conclusion, but the conclusion is not guaranteed to be true. Instead, an inductive argument relies on the premises to build a case for the conclusion.

For example, consider this argument:

Premise 1: Most politicians are liars
Premise 2: John is a politician
Conclusion: John is likely a liar

In this argument, the conclusion is supported by the premises. Premise 1 states that most politicians are liars, and premise 2 says that John is a politician. This builds a case for the conclusion that John is likely a liar. 

Let’s take another example for a better understanding:

Premise 1: Every time Sara has flipped a coin, it landed on head. 
Conclusion: Therefore, the next time Sara flips a coin, it will also land on heads. 

In this case, even though all of Sara’s past experiences tell us that flipping a coin results in heads 100% of the time. There’s still a chance (however small) that tails could come up instead. 

Inductive arguments are not valid- they can only be evaluated by their strength of support. If the premises are true, then the argument is strong. If the premises are weak, then the argument is weak.

Abductive Arguments

Abductive arguments are used to generate a new hypothesis. Unlike deductive and inductive arguments, abductive arguments are not valid or invalid- they’re only evaluated by their plausibility. 

Let’s look at an example to see how this works in practice:

Premise 1: Most politicians are liars
Premise 2: John is a politician
Conclusion: It’s plausible that John is a liar

In this argument, the conclusion is not supported by the premises. However, the conclusion is plausible, given the information provided. This makes the argument abductive. 

Abductive arguments are not as strong as deductive or inductive arguments, but they can be useful for generating new hypotheses.

Let’s look at another example. Say that you’re walking through the park, and you see a dog lying on the ground. Its eyes closed, and tongue hanging out. You might reasonably conclude that the dog is asleep. But how did you come to that conclusion? 

After all, there are other possible explanations for what you’re seeing. The dog could be sick, or it could be dead. 

In this case, the best explanation is that the dog is asleep because that explanation fits all the evidence. The dog’s eyes are closed, its tongue is hanging out, and it’s not moving. 

The other explanations don’t fit all of the evidence. For example, if the dog were sick, we would expect it to be moving around a bit or at least making some noise. 

The Power of Abduction

Abduction is a powerful tool because it allows us to reason from limited evidence to the best explanation. In many cases, we don’t have all of the information that we would like to make a decision. 

Abduction allows us to make do with what we have and still come to a reasonable conclusion. 

Of course, abduction isn’t perfect. Just because an explanation fits all available evidence doesn’t mean it’s necessarily true. 

How To Structure An Argument For An Essay?

When it comes to writing an essay, there are a lot of things that you need to take into consideration. In this section of the blog post, we will be discussing how you can structure an argument for your essay. 

By the end of this post, you should have a better understanding of how to write a convincing argument.

Come Up With An Interesting Topic 

The first step in writing a convincing argument is to come up with an interesting topic. Spend some time brainstorming potential topics. Once you have come up with a few ideas, do some research. 

Make sure there is enough information on the topic to write a full essay. 

Identify The Type Of Claim You Want To Draft For Your Essay 

There are three different types of claims that you can draft for your essay: fact, value, and policy. 

A fact claim is when you are claiming something that happened in the past or present. For example, “George Washington was the first president of the United States.” 

A value claim is when you are making a claim about something that is good or bad. For example, “Cheating is wrong.” 

A policy claim is when you are making a claim about what should or should not be done. For example, “The drinking age should be lowered to 18.” 

Decide On The Argument Type 

Once you have identified the type of claim you want to make, you need to decide on the argument type.

There are four different types of arguments: logos, pathos, ethos, and Kairos. 

  • Logos is when you use formal logic and reasoning to make your case.
  • Pathos is when you appeal to emotions in order to make your case.
  • Ethos is when you use your credibility and expertise to make your case. 
  • Kairos is when you use timeliness and relevance to make your case. 

Consult Credible And Authentic Sources 

It is important that you consult credible sources when writing your essay. Credible sources are those that are written by experts in the field and have been peer-reviewed. 

Some examples of credible sources include books, scholarly articles, and government websites.

Draft An Essay Outline And Organize Data 

Once you have gathered all of your information, it is time to start drafting your essay outline. Begin by organizing your thoughts into main points and subpoints. 

Once you have done this, start filling in supporting evidence for each point. As you are doing this, keep in mind the type of argument you want to make. This will help ensure that your essay flows logically. 

Draft An Introduction With A Strong Claim 

Your introduction needs to grab the reader’s attention. It will give your readers an idea of what your essay will be about. 

Start with a hook, such as a quote, statistic, or rhetorical question. Then, give some background information on the topic. 

Finally, end your introduction with a strong thesis statement that outlines the main points of your argument. 

Make Sure To Develop Logical Body Praghraphs

It is essential to develop logical body paragraphs when writing a philosophy essay. As we know, there are different types of arguments in philosophy. Be mindful of how to make an argument as well as a counter-argument.

Write The Conclusion 

Your conclusion should summarize all of the main points of your argument. It should also leave the reader with something to think about after they finish reading your essay. 

One way to do this is to end with a call to action or propose further research on the topic. 

Types Of Argument In Philosophy Pdf Examples

The pdf examples can be extremely helpful if you are about to write a philosophy essay. You can use these arguments to persuade others to see your point of view if you have different opinions. If you can identify the different types of arguments, you’re more likely to be able to hold a mature discussion or debate with someone.

Here are some PDF examples of types of argument in philosophy.

Argumentative Essay Topics Philosophy

Here are just a few ideas of argumentative essay topics on philosophy:

  • The existence of God 
  • The nature of reality 
  • The mind-body problem 
  • Free will vs. determinism 
  • The problem of evil 
  • The ethics of abortion 
  • The ethics of euthanasia 
  • The ethics of animal experimentation 
  • Environmental ethics 
  • The philosophy of law 
  • The philosophy of religion 
  • Existentialism 
  • Logic and reasoning 
  • Ethics and morality 
  • Political philosophy 
  • Aesthetics and art 
  • Epistemology 
  • Metaphysics
  • Feminist philosophy 
  • Philosophical counseling

How To Choose Philosophy Argumentative Essay Topic

Choosing a good philosophy argumentative essay topic is quite challenging since there are so many potential topics to choose from. But this is also what makes the process interesting- you can explore any topic that you find interesting. 

Here are some tips to share with you on choosing a philosophical argumentative essay topic.

Choose a Controversial Topic

There’s nothing worse than being assigned a boring essay topic. So when you’re choosing a topic for your argumentative philosophy essay, make sure to choose something controversial. 

That way, you’ll be sure to get your professor’s attention and keep them engaged in your paper.

Make Sure You Can Actually Argue Your Point

Before committing to a side in an argument, make sure you understand the arguments for and against your position. Otherwise, you’re just setting yourself up for failure.

Choose A Topic That Interests You

Remember, if you’re not interested in the topic of your paper, it will show in your writing. And if your writing is boring, chances are your professor won’t be too interested either. 

So when choosing a topic for your argumentative philosophy essay, make sure to choose something that interests you. That way, you’ll be more likely to produce interesting and engaging writing.

We’ve introduced you to the three most common types of arguments. However, there are many more variations beyond what we’ve covered here. Stay tuned for future blog posts that will explore the other types of arguments in detail.

The three most common types of arguments in philosophy are deductive, inductive, and abductive. Each has its strengths and weaknesses. It’s important to identify which type an argument is using so that you can respond appropriately. 

In the meantime, start practicing using these three argument styles so that you can become a master arguer!

Emily Brown
Emily Brown

An experienced author and writing instructor. Has been teaching composition and creative writing at the college level since 2015.

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