Asking the Right Questions 6/e -- Ch 6 notes

Critical Question: What are the Descriptive Assumptions?

Descriptive assumptions --

Prescriptive or value assumptions --

Illustrating Descriptive Assumptions

We know that, by itself, a reason cannot support a conclusion; the reason must be connected to the conclusion by certain other (frequently unstated) ideas.

CAUTION: Remind yourself that the argument holds together in a certain way only because certain assumptions were made.


Clues for Locating Assumptions

Your job in finding assumptions is to reconstruct the reasoning by filling in the missing gaps.

Applying the Clues

An example

CAUTION: If we have some questions about the accuracy of the descriptive assumption, ask for justification. If inadequate explanations is the only respons, reject the argument as unconvincing.

Avoiding Analysis of Trivial Assumptions

Trivial Assumptions:

Evaluating Assumptions

After locating assumptions you must make an attempt to determine whether the assumptions make sense.

If you have some basis for doubting the appropriateness of the assumption, then it is fair to reject the reason or conclusion that was propped up by that assumption.

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Updated 04.28.99