More Effective Reasoning II Better Links

Writing well-formed and well-founded claims is only half the task of effective reasoning. The links between these claims must also be well made if our overall argument or explanation is to be strong. Looking carefully at the links between premises prevents us from making unconscious assumptions about how information is interrelated. We must also check the connections of our premises with their conclusion, making sure they are relevant and provide strong support. Otherwise our conclusion will not be acceptable, or the explanation of it will be unconvincing. At each stage, as discussed in chapter 5, we will need to consider the way that the context of our reasoning will affect our judgments about its effectiveness.

In this chapter we will consider three main issues:

1 We look at how effective reasoning requires that we work out the necessary links between dependent premises. Carefully expanding our 'reasons' into a fully expressed chain of premises ensures that our reasoning has depth, so that no important premises remain 'implied' (not explicitly stated).

2 We will consider how relevant premises provide information that does actually bear on the conclusion, whereas irrelevant premises (even if well formed and well founded) do not.

3 We examine the strength of the support that premises provide for a conclusion. As we saw with well-founded claims, judgments of audience expectations and other contextual issues play a central role in making sure our reasoning is effective.

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