Episode 10: Major and Minor Premises 2
In Episode 12 Nick and Dave continue their discussion of major and minor premises.What words are used to indicate each?
Dave: You are listening to Critically Minded.
Nick: Critical Thinking For 2nd Language Learners. We’re your hosts, Nick . . .
Dave: And Dave. In our last episode, we were looking at major and minor premises. Now we should discuss the words used to indicate major premises and minor premises.
Nick: Major premise indicators include words like: all, no, none, every, only, everybody, nobody, always, never, completely, totally.
Dave: And minor premise indicators include words like: the, a, an, this, that, these, those, some, a few, my, his, and hers.
Nick: Other words related to major premises are, “except,” “but,” “although,” “despite.” In this episode, we are going to look at three short arguments and ask you to identify the minor premise, the major premise and the conclusion.
Dave: And also tell whether the argument is conclusion-first or conclusion-last. So, here we go: # 1. Only birds have feathers. This has feathers, so it must be a bird.
Nick: # 2. No one but the owner of this car will have the correct key. Tom’s key starts the car. So, the car belongs to Tom.
Dave: Next # 3. It is clear that John and Rebecca worked together to paint the door pink and green. Although some painters have red paint and purple paint; and some painters have yellow paint and brown paint, nobody except John has blue and white paint and nobody but Rebecca has red and yellow paint.
Dave: Let’s discuss the answers now.
Nick: Right, so, in the first problem, we have the argument: Only birds have feathers. This has feathers, so it must be a bird . . . In this problem the major premise is indicated by the word, “only.”
Dave: Yes, like the word, “all,” the word “only” is exclusive. It excludes all other items from the group.
Nick: So the premise, Only birds have feathers is major. The second premise, This has feathers is minor.
Dave: Indicted by the word, “this” which indicates that this is a particular thing that is being referred to.
Nick: The word, “so” indicates the conclusion, so this must be a bird.
Dave: As for the organization, this argument is a conclusion-last one. The conclusion, indicated by the word “so” is in the last of the three sentences. Let’s have a look now at our second problem: No one but the owner of this car will have the correct key. Tom’s key starts the car. So, it must be Tom’s car.
Nick: Again an easy one. The word “no” in “No one” indicates the major premise. We could also use the word, except, as in, “No one except the owner will have the key.” Next, “Tom’s key,” a specific reference to one key, indicates the minor premise. And “So” indicates a conclusion. The conclusion comes at the end, making this a premise-first conclusion-last argument. Let’s look at the third argument now.
Dave: I’ll read it again. It is clear that John and Rebecca worked together to paint the door pink and green. Although some painters have red paint and purple paint; and some painters have yellow paint and brown paint, no one except John has blue and white paint and no one but Rebecca has red and yellow paint.
Nick: This was a conclusion-first, premise-last argument. It was not so easy to identify the conclusion indicator, because “It is clear that” is a new conclusion indicator that we haven’t talked about yet. And there were no simple premise indicators like “because.” However, there are the major premise indicators “no one except Tom” and “No one but Rebecca,” and the minor premise indicator, “some painters.”
Dave: And of course, as we all know, green paint can only be made by mixing blue and yellow; and pink paint can only be made by mixing red and white; and that is why, the only way the door could be painted pink and green is if John and Rebecca worked together.
Nick: That will probably be enough for today.
Dave: So until next time, this has been, Critically Minded: Critical Thinking for 2nd Language Learners.
Episode 10: Major and Minor Premises 2