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always offer enough support for your audience to be convinced that the conclusion of your argument is acceptable or that the explanation of it is complete. Strength of support is, like relevance, very dependent upon the context in which we are reasoning, and we can never be certain that we have given enough support for our conclusions. On the other hand, if we do think about this context, then we can greatly improve the chances that we will be effective.

The first such context issue concerns the burden of proof. The following example is drawn from a legal situation. In a court case, the two opposing parties do not come to court each with an equal task. In a criminal trial, for example, the prosecution has the burden of proof. If it fails to establish the guilt of the defendant, then the defendant goes free; the defence does not have to prove innocence, but must merely defeat the prosecution's attempts to prove guilt. There are two common measures of the burden of proof in the law. In criminal cases, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty. In civil cases, a less onerous burden is carried by the plaintiff (the one who initiates the action). The plaintiff must prove, on the balance of probabilities, that they are right; the respondent's task is to establish a greater probability that their side of the argument is correct.

It is rare, outside legal and quasi-legal contexts, for the burden of proof on one side of an argument to be recognised formally. Yet, the implicit idea behind it is found in all reasoning. One person has a more demanding job of proving a point and, if they fail, then an alternative position remains the preferred one. One person must provide more evidence, must positively show their conclusion to be true. Usually existing conclusions require less evidence or, perhaps, will be taken to be true unless clearly shown otherwise. Obviously, those who have the burden of proof in an argumentative situation will need stronger, more compelling support for their conclusion than their opponents. The problem, however, is to determine where this burden lies.

As with all these contextually based judgments, it is impossible to provide some ready formula by which we can always ascertain the burden of proof—who has it and how onerous it is. Each situation will be different. However, as a general rule, we must (when arguing or explaining) consider the established true claims that conflict with our proposed reasoning. For example:

Historians in twentieth-century Australia had, up until the 1970s, a well-established position on Aboriginal responses to white invasion: Aboriginal people, it was claimed and accepted, did little to resist the encroachment of Europeans' settlement. Both experts and the community agreed; this view was found in numerous books and articles. In fact, few historians even bothered to explore the issue, since they were sure they had the correct answer to the question 'What was the Aborigines' response?'. Then, from about 1972 onwards, historians began to look again at the evidence and come to startling new conclusions. But, as Henry Reynolds, a leading exponent of this historical revision, has noted, he and like-minded historians had to amass significant amounts

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