Criteria for a Cogent Argument

An argument is cogent if:

  • It is valid
  • It has true or acceptable premises
  • All relevant information has been examined

A cogent argument is sometimes called a sound or strong argument.

Sometimes you must suspend belief because of a lack of evidence. Always be open to changing your mind based on new evidence.

At times there exists relative reasonability for a premise that cannot be proven, that is, it’s acceptable to you but not to someone else (or vice-versa). This is because the entire truth can’t always be known or that it can ever be known with certainty.

Be aware that people use self-interest, prejudice, and narrow mindedness to believe things that are unreasonable. There are many arguments where people disagree on whether a premise is acceptable or believable. They will say, “Well that’s just my opinion. It may be true for you, but it’s not true for me.” Although it’s been said that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, that doesn’t mean the opinion is reasonable. Look for further implications, that is, statements that would be true if the statement would be true.

Examples:

  • All killing is wrong. (counter-example is self-defense)
  • No sea animals are mammals (counter-example is whales)
  • If birthrates continue to increase then the world will get overcrowded. (counter is ‘what if death rates rise faster’)
  • Punishment does not deter crime (counter is ‘would people still pay the IRS?’)
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