Argumentation Notes

Argumentation often involves a major premise and a minor premise

Example from Declaration of Independence of a major and minor premise

Ø Major Premise: People have natural rights, and when they are violated something must be done

Ø Minor Premise: King George III has violated the colonist’s rights.

Ø Conclusion: Something must be done about King George III

Jefferson does not argue the rightness of point one, he accepts that his audience agrees. Rather, he argues and supports his minor premise in order to lead the audience to his conclusion.

In reference to the roles of debate, sections 1 and 2 of the “Declaration” would be the ‘stater’, and sections 3 and 4 would be the ‘prover’. The ‘stater’ introduces and establishes the major idea (premise) and then previews/explains the minor premise or stance of the team on the issue. The ‘prover’ then supports the stance with research and then ends the argument.

Argumentation in Debate

One way to look at a debate: two sides are arguing over a central issue. They often agree on a major premise, but they disagree on an aspect of it. For this debate, you have been assigned a major premise (as a group of four), and a minor premise (as a group of two).

Example in Debate (simplistic)

Topic: Driving Age

Ø Major Premise: People need to learn how to drive

Ø Minor Premise:
· Young adults should be allowed to drive by their 16th birthday

o Vs.

· Young adults should not be allowed to drive until after their 16th birthday (when is decided by the group)

Both groups accept that the major premise is true (that people DO need to learn to drive). They do not argue that the issue is an issue. Rather, they argue as to the impact or process of that issue.