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The University of Auckland | CTMOOC_Week_2.

You should now know what statements and arguments are. Basically, statements are sentences that
are either true or false. And arguments are ways of combining statements so as to make a point by
providing premises, the reasons, intended to support a conclusion. When you encounter arguments in
the wild, it becomes difficult to isolate the premises from the conclusion and to isolate sentences that
are actually part of the argument.
And that's why it's very useful for us to agree on a systematic way of presenting arguments. And we'll
do that before we can analyse them. We call this a standard form. Before you start evaluating
arguments, your first task will be to put them in standard form.
The standard form of an argument is a way of presenting the argument which makes clear which
statements are premises, how many premises there are, and which statements is the conclusion. In
standard form, the conclusion of the argument is listed last. A standard form looks like this-- premise 1,
premise 2, and so on for as many premises as there are-- therefore, conclusion.
For example, here's a very simple argument presented in standard form. Premise 1-- I'm having a bad
day today. Premise 2-- I only have bad days on Mondays. Therefore, conclusion-- today is Monday. To
illustrate why putting an argument in standard form is useful, let's see the kind of arguments you might
encounter in the wild-- for instance, on YouTube. For this one, we've used an actor to protect the
identity of the original.
Hi. I'm Justin. I'm the author of the book Living a Better Life. And I'm here to tell you my top three
reasons for going vegan. Animals from factory farming spend their entire lives in miserable conditions
until the day they are slaughtered. Most won't ever feel the warmth of the sun on their backs or breathe
fresh air until the day they're loaded onto trucks, bound for the slaughterhouses. Their suffering is
Animals from factory farming are treated cruelly. Now, you might think that eggs are OK to eat because
after all, you don't need to slaughter chickens to eat their eggs. Wrong. Chickens get their beaks cut off
with a burning hot blade and with no painkillers. And half of the chickens on farms, the cockerels, are
slaughtered. The fact is, eggs come from hens that are treated cruelly-- all that so that you can enjoy
bacon and eggs.

But I only eat fish, some people say. Well, that won't cut it either. The problem is that commercial fishing
is destroying and emptying our oceans. As a result of commercial fishing, 90% of large fish populations
have been exterminated in the past 50 years.
When we put the argument in standard form, we have to isolate the statements that form the conclusion
and premises, and we have to reorder them appropriately. The conclusion here was explicitly stated-you should go vegan. And Justin clearly announced that he had three reasons in support of his
But he seems to have given us many more than three-- or has he? Let's first try to isolate the three
main reasons Justin provided. The first one is about factory farming and the maltreatment of animals.
Justin gave some contextual information about factory farming and provided additional reasons to
believe that factory farming is cruel to animals.
However, the reason which directly supports the conclusion is-Animals from factory farming are treated cruelly.
The second reason Justin provided was about eggs, and the fact that they come from hens that are
also treated cruelly. Again, he provided additional reasons as to why you should believe this. But the
main reason directly used in support of the conclusion is-Eggs come from hens that are treated cruelly.
For the third and final reason, we again have the same pattern. Justin talked about the impact of
commercial fishing on the oceans and backed up the claim with additional reasons. But the main reason
that directly supports the conclusion that you should go vegan is-Commercial fishing is destroying and emptying our oceans.
We now have our three reasons and our conclusion. So now we can put the argument in standard form.
Premise 1-- animals from factory farming are treated cruelly. Premise 2-- eggs come from hens that are
treated cruelly. Premise 3-- commercial fishing is destroying and emptying our oceans. Therefore,
conclusion-- you should go vegan.

Call this the main argument. As we've seen, Justin provided reasons to believe each of the premises.
Call those sub-arguments. Now that we've isolated the main argument, the next step would be to look
at each sub-agreement and put them in standard form. We'll ask you to do this as an exercise.
But I'd like to stress that it's very important for you to be able to identify the main argument when you
face arguments in the wild. First, identify the main conclusion and the reasons that are provided to
support it. Then work your way down to each sub-argument. When you get to analyse sub-arguments,
you will follow the same pattern. More about this later.