Since there is no survival value in an animal's having an organ that is able to function when all its other organs ha...

CBLACKBURN1923 on March 11, 2020

premis or conclusion.

How do we go about trying to differentiate the conclusion from the premise. I know that the premise support the conclusion but in the 2nd and 3rd question I though the premise was the first sentence and everything else was backing up that idea, for the 4th question I thought that the premise was closer towards the end. is there any words or phrases they say to help distinguish the premise from the conclusion.

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SamA on March 11, 2020

Hello @CBLACKBURN1923,

Good question, understanding the structure of an argument is critical not only for main point questions, but for most other question types.

Yes, there are key words and phrases that indicate premises and conclusions. However, these indicators are not always present. I use a question-and-answer strategy to help me identify conclusions. Remember that a conclusion will always require support. It will leave you asking "why?" or "how?" The premises are the support, and they will answer these questions.

Let's discuss the examples from the video.

2. The first sentence: "It is probably within the reach of human technology to make the climate of Mars inhabitable." I agree with you that this does sound like a conclusion at first glance. A statement of what is "probable" is often a conclusion. However, upon reading the rest of the passage, I can see that the other sentences do not support the first one. They do not explain why it is probably within the reach of human technology. So, which sentence is supported by the premises?

C: Research efforts are now justified if there is even a chance of making another planet inhabitable.
P1: It is probably within reach of human technology.
P2: It is worth doing even if it takes several centuries.
P3: The intellectual exercise of understanding the Martian atmosphere could help us on Earth.

All of these premises explain why research efforts are justified.

Let's look at #3.
First sentence: "The city is in a financial crisis and must reduce its spending."
If this were the main point/conclusion, the rest of the passage would explain why the city must reduce its spending. However, the rest of the passage is all about the zoo. The main point must have something to do with the zoo. The first sentence is just background information.

C: Cutting City Zoo's funding in half is false economy.
P1: The zoo's budget is very small compared to the deficit, so it won't help the financial crisis.
P2: The zoo attracts tourists and tax dollars.
P3: The zoo makes the city an attractive place for businesses to locate.

There are two indicators in the conclusion sentence. First is the word "nevertheless," a common indicator. Second is the element of opinion. By saying "false economy," the author is arguing against a particular course of action, and then presents here evidence.

C: It was wrong of my brother Mark to tell our mother he missed the party because of a traffic accident.
P1: Saying something that is false is always morally wrong.
P2: Mark said something false.

Notice that, just like a sufficient and necessary drill, connecting those two premises leads directly to the conclusion.