Strategies for finding the 'unstated premise' in arguments?

ApplicantInWI
Posts: 15
Joined: Mon Nov 17, 2008 5:36 pm

Strategies for finding the 'unstated premise' in arguments?

Postby ApplicantInWI » Mon Jan 26, 2009 12:52 pm

I am having trouble on 2 key areas of LR:
Assumptions (finding unstated premise)
Weakening (attacking unstated premise)

I know how to find the premise and conclusion, that is easy, but what are your strategies for finding the unstated premise in an argument? Do you have any tricks? I am missing a ton of these and if I can find something that works, I can increase my score a lot.

Thanks for any assistance.

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gcalvin
Posts: 18
Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2008 2:54 pm

Re: Strategies for finding the 'unstated premise' in arguments?

Postby gcalvin » Mon Jan 26, 2009 1:20 pm

One thing to keep in mind is that you're supposed to be able to answer the question withing a short time, which implies that the unstated premise is not a secret premise, but a rather obvious element of the argument that was not explicitly stated. An unstated premise is going to provide some kind of link between the stated premises and the conclusion, and there could be more than one unstated premise.

One strategy for identifying necessary assumptions is the "negation rule." You take all the answer choices one by one, make them false (negate them) and see which one invalidates the argument -- makes it impossible to reach the conclusion from the stated premises. This rule works well when applied correctly, but can sometimes be tricky -- search the forum for "necessary assumption" and you should find some interesting threads.

Watch out for propositions that seem at first glance to be relevant, but really aren't. For instance, in an argument about traffic fatalities, a statement about frequency of accidents might not be relevant (many accidents do not involve fatalities). Watch out for propositions that are overly broad or overly specific, especially in necessary assumption questions. For instance, in an argument about dental hygiene, an answer choice might say something like "Everyone who flosses daily has excellent dental health," and you should be very suspicious of something so sweeping -- there's probably a better choice.

-Gary-

ApplicantInWI
Posts: 15
Joined: Mon Nov 17, 2008 5:36 pm

Re: Strategies for finding the 'unstated premise' in arguments?

Postby ApplicantInWI » Mon Jan 26, 2009 2:01 pm

Awesome, cannot wait to try it today.
Anything for weakening?

I have to brush up on a few other things and then I'm testing.

viking138
Posts: 223
Joined: Thu Jan 22, 2009 7:55 pm

Re: Strategies for finding the 'unstated premise' in arguments?

Postby viking138 » Mon Jan 26, 2009 4:18 pm

gcalvin wrote:One strategy for identifying necessary assumptions is the "negation rule." You take all the answer choices one by one, make them false (negate them) and see which one invalidates the argument -- makes it impossible to reach the conclusion from the stated premises. This rule works well when applied correctly, but can sometimes be tricky -- search the forum for "necessary assumption" and you should find some interesting threads.


That is an awesome tip! I'm about to do an LR section, here's hoping it helps me :)




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