How Arguments Work: The Basics

If you understand how arguments succeed and fail, then you can do some important stuff. You can construct a convincing argument, evaluate an argument, fix a broken argument, and — maybe most importantly — avoid being duped by a bullshit argument. So if any of that sounds interesting to you, then you’ll want to understand the basics of how arguments work. I’ll review those basics in the rest of this post.  Continue reading How Arguments Work: The Basics

Evaluate An Argument With Just ONE Flowchart

I love philosophy and science. I also love flowcharts because they can compress many pages of instruction into a simple chart. And three researchers from George Mason University and the University of Queensland have combined these three loves in a paper about climate change denialism. In their paper, they create a flowchart that shows how to find over a dozen fallacies in over 40 denialist claims! In this post, I’ll explain this argument-checking flowchart. First, we will identify a common denialist claim and then evaluate the argument for it. Continue reading Evaluate An Argument With Just ONE Flowchart

Fact-checking is not enough. We need argument-checking.

I see more fact-checking on Facebook than I used to. While I’m glad to see fact-checking catching on, fact-checking isn’t enough — or so I’ll argue in this post.

1. Fact-checking: The problem

Let’s say that you and I agree on all the facts. Now let’s say that we start arguing. Will we argue well? Not necessarily!

After all, we can reason badly even if we agree on the facts. Specifically, we can jump to conclusions that don’t follow from the facts. So fact-checking our argument(s) won’t necessarily fix all the problems with our argument(s).

2. Bad Arguments

Consider some of the claims that people make: