want to develop an effective argument or explanation, we have to decide which premises need to have their relevance substantiated and which premises do not. Making this decision requires that we understand what is expected of us in reasoning. We must also consider the degree to which our audience will accept that what we claim to be relevant really is, even though we give no evidence for its relevance.
Decisions about what to include or not include to establish relevance can only be made by thinking about the context. Imagine if I were to argue that all Australians should give due recognition to Aboriginal native title claims' (claim 1) and I gave, broadly, three reasons to show why:
2. Both common law and legislation demand such recognition.
3. Aborigines were the first inhabitants of the continent we now call Australia.
4. Henry Reynolds has written an excellent book on the history of Aboriginal-European relations called The Other Side of the Frontier (1980).
For claim 2, I would not consider it necessary to explain the relevance of the legal position; I would simply assume that my audience would see that a legal requirement was relevant to what all Australians should do. For claim 3, I would consider it necessary to explain to some audiences (perhaps those ignorant of such matters) the relevance of the claim (by adding the claim 'The first inhabitants of a land mass have inalienable rights to that land', claim 5); I would assume that other audiences would see the relevance. For claim 4, I would always seek to explain the relevance of this unusual premise (by adding the claims 'This book incontrovert-ibly demonstrates the need for reconciliation and native title claims are essential to reconciliation', claim 6).
Here is another example that shows how context involves both people and ideas. Students at university usually write for a knowledgeable academic and fail to work carefully through all the issues, assuming that the academic will 'fill in the gaps'. In doing so, they forget that they must also meet one of the contextual requirements of scholarly work: that they not make too many assumptions, not presume that the audience is clever and will 'get' the point of the essay. Hence many essays fail to achieve the required standard because their authors have not consciously considered and learnt about the context into which they fit. This point is significant in all communication. Whenever we communicate we must actively imagine and reflect on our context and how that might influence the way we present our arguments and explanations.
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