no matter how many distinct groups of dependent premises there are, such arguments are not complex. Compare with complex structure. (See chapter 3.)


Sources can be either direct (primary) or indirect (secondary). The difference between them is usually contextual, but generally speaking, direct sources relate to the topic of our reasoning; indirect sources relate to what others have reasoned about our topic. Obviously, if the topic of our argument or explanation is what others have written or said, then what appears to be an indirect source can in fact be direct. (See chapter 8.)

specific cases, reasoning from

The conclusion generalises beyond the scope of the specific cases in the premises; the premises give the evidence regarding those cases. The key question to ask is: do these cases give rise to some reliable generalisation that applies to all of them or all like cases? (See chapter 7.)


The generic name for an ordered, meaningful group of words. Statements may or may not be claims. A statement is not a sentence: 'sentence' is a term used to describe the narrative flow of words; statement is a term to denote the analytical units that make up reasoning. Compare with claim. (See chapter 2.)

strength of support

Even acceptable and relevant premises do not always provide sufficient support to show or explain their conclusions. Judgments of the necessary strength of support needed in reasoning are difficult, since they depend largely on the context in which that reasoning is taking place. Compare with burden of proof (See chapter 6.)

structure diagram

One half of the analytical structure format. A structure diagram shows the interrelationship of claims in a standardised way. It is distinguished from the arrangement of claims in narrative flow by the fact that, in a diagram, the conclusion is always last and the order of claims above it indicates the 'steps' we need to take to reach that conclusion from our starting point. The key elements are the [-1] symbol, to show premise-conclusion links; the + symbol, to show premise-premise links; and the use of horizontal lines (_), to show grouped chains of premises. (See chapter 3.)


Any one component layer of a complex argument. For example, consider an argument structure in which claims 2 and 3 support claim 4, which in turn joins with claim 5 to support the conclusion—claim 1. The main argument concerns claim 1 and so the sub-argument consists in the structure 2+3 [-1] 4. (See chapter 3.)

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