In the prior Describe the Argument lesson we had to identify an argument’s structure. Now we are focusing on a specific argument part and it’s Role.

CHALLENGE: Identify the role of an assertion

Role questions are identifiable by their distinct questions stems:

  • Which of the following describes the role…
  • The assertion that UFOs are real figures into the argument in which of the following ways?

How to solve

  1. Identify the premises and the conclusion and how they relate to each other. Then, see if the statement is an argument, premise, or something external to the argument.
  2. You need to understand very complex argument structures. So, you could have:
    a. Subsidiary conclusions (that supports the conclusion).
    b. Claims that the author intends to refute.
    c. Counter-arguments.
  3. Try to get a handle on critical reasoning terminology (deductive reasoning, inductive reasoning, premises, and conclusions) because they’ll be in the answer choices. We wouldn’t burden our dear students with such heavy and intimidating terms if it weren’t absolutely necessary to know these terms down for test day.
  4. It helps to diagram these questions so that you can visualize the argument structure. You can look for keywords that signal premises and conclusions (but don’t over-rely on them).
  5. Like the prior lesson, Conclusions, we’re not terribly concerned with logical flaws in the argument, just describing the argument.
  6. Avoid trap choices:
    a) Since the assumptions are typically unstated, this is a common trap answer choice.
    b) Sometimes the statement isn’t even part of the argument. So, it has no role in the argument.

Video Quiz

Role in an Argument

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