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10 Good Arguments


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2. Syllogism

Here's a Greek word that means a usage of words to make an inference or draw a conclusion: Syllogism, pronounced, "SILL-lo-ji-zm."

Interestingly enough, there are only 19 basic forms of syllogism, and 4 of those are controversial. So it's really a pretty limited topic, but to cover it fully you should really check out the Wikipedia article on it, from which a couple of representative (and classic) examples are taken.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syllogism#Types_of_syllogism

All men are mortal.
Socrates is a man.
Socrates is mortal.

This doesn't take into account, of course, that Socrates is dead or that this conclusion is really all that shocking, least of all, probably, to Socrates. However, this is about being valid, and the logic is, if all X are Y, and Z belongs to the category X, then Z is also Y. This is one of the most basic forms of valid syllogism.

Here are a couple others:

All kittens are playful.
Some pets are kittens.
Some pets are playful.

All horses have hooves.
No humans have hooves.
No humans are horses.

Again, this one is probably least surprising to horses.

All fruit is nutritious.
All fruit is tasty.
Some tasty things are nutritious.

Notice that this conclusion is more limited than the premises: Why?

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