In any situation involving reasoning, we can discuss the degree of support needed for a conclusion to be acceptable in terms of the 'burden of proof on the person presenting the argument or explanation. Burdens of proof are usually implied and contextual. (See chapter 6.)


Casting is a process of looking at someone else's argument or explanation, in the narrative form, and then recovering from that form, an analytical structure which is done best by marking claims and traces of reasoning in the text, and then drawing a diagram to show the interlinkage of those claims. Casting is most usefully used as a way of building your understanding of reasoning, so that you can use the analytical structure format from scratch for your own arguments and explanations. (See chapter 3.)

cause, reasoning from

The conclusion proposes the relationship between cause and effect; the premises give evidence about the cause or causes and show why it is that the effect relates to that cause or causes. The key questions to ask in relation to reasoning from cause concern similarities and differences that might reveal the cause(s). Care is needed to avoid assuming a causal relationship when two events are simply coincidental or are both effects of an underlying cause. (See chapter 7.)


The measurement of probability involved in a claim; an important property in well-formed claims, useful in assessing the degree of support necessary for a particular conclusion. A conclusion and its premises are said to be 'coherent' in certainty when there is little variation in the measure of probability that all the claims make. The certainty component of a claim is often implicit but, in good reasoning, should be stated explicitly. Compare with scope. (See chapter 2.)

circular reasoning

A false form of reasoning in which the premise(s) appears to be different from the conclusion but which in fact is a restatement of that conclusion. You cannot reason for a claim by using the same claim again. (See chapter 4.)


A claim is a statement that represents some event or idea about the way the world is or should be. It is distinguishable from other statements because, when considering a claim, it is possible to ask 'is this statement true or false?'. In relation to value claims, 'true or false' may be better expressed as 'sound or unsound'. (See chapter 2).

complex structure

Arguments and explanations are complex when they involve more than two layers of claims, that is, when they have premises that lead to a conclusion, and claims

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