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A Hierarchy of Argumentative Structures

(useful) (learning propertarianism)

[T]he next ten arguments you make, try to determine which form of argument the person is relying upon. (Not with me. I have enough to do. Test your cunning elsewhere.) If you do this a few times you will begin to intuit it in every argument.

1) EXPRESSIVE (emotional): a type of argument where a person expresses a positive or negative opinion based upon his emotional response to the subject.

2) SENTIMENTAL (biological): a type of argument that relies upon one of the five (or six) human sentiments, and their artifacts as captured in human traditions, morals, or other unarticulated, but nevertheless consistently and universally demonstrated preferences and behaviors.

3) MORAL (normative) : a type of argument that relies upon a set of assumedly normative rules of whose origin is either (a)socially contractual, (b)biologically natural, (c) economically necessary, or even (d)divine. (Also: RELIGIOUS)

4) RATIONAL (logical) – Most philosophical arguments rely upon contradiction and internal consistency rather than external correspondence.

5) HISTORICAL (analogical): A spectrum of analogical arguments – from Historical to Anecdotal — that rely upon a relationship between a historical sequence of events, and a present sequence events, in order to suggest that the current events will come to the same conclusion as did the past events, or can be used to invalidate or validate assumptions about the current period.

6) SCIENTIFIC (directly empirical): The use of a set of measurements that produce data that can be used to prove or disprove an hypothesis, but which are subject to human cognitive biases and preferences. ie: ‘Bottom up analysis”

7) ECONOMIC: (indirectly empirical): The use of a set of measures consisting of uncontrolled variables, for the purpose of circumventing the problems of direct human inquiry into human preferences, by the process of capturing demonstrated preferences, as expressed by human exchanges, usually in the form of money. ie: “Top Down Analysis”. The weakness of economic arguments is caused by the elimination of properties and causes that are necessary for the process of aggregation.

8) RATIO-EMPIRICAL (Comprehensive: Using all above): A rationally articulated argument that makes use of economic, scientific, historical, normative and sentimental information to comprehensively prove that a position is defensible under all objections. NOTE: See “Styles of Argument” below.

9) TRUTHFUL: categorically consistent, Internally consistent (logical), Externally Correspondent (Instrumentally observable), Operationally articulated (Possible), Fully Accounted, Moral (free of imposed costs).

10) THE TAUTOLOGICAL TRUTH – Not so much an argument but the most parsimonious verbal statement is possible.

Curt Doolittle’s “Degrees Of Political Argument”*1, from least to most substantive: *1[ 2011]


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