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Aristotle - The Organon - index for TOPICA Book 8 Part 11

Five kinds of criticism of arguments

  
Paragraph 1 Adverse criticism of an argument on its own merits, and of it when presented in the form of questions, are two different things.
Paragraph 2 Inasmuch as it is indeterminate when people are claiming the admission of contrary things, and when they are claiming what originally they set out to prove - for often when they are talking by themselves they say contrary things, and admit afterwards what they have previously denied;
Paragraph 3 In itself an argument is liable to five kinds of adverse criticism:
Paragraph 4 (1) The first is when neither the proposed conclusion nor indeed any conclusion at all is drawn from the questions asked, and when most, if not all, of the premisses on which the conclusion rests are false or generally rejected, when, moreover, neither any withdrawals nor additions nor both together can bring the conclusions about.
Paragraph 5 (2) The second is, supposing the reasoning, though constructed from the premisses, and in the manner, described above, were to be irrelevant to the original position.
Paragraph 6 (3) The third is, supposing certain additions would bring an inference about but yet these additions were to be weaker than those that were put as questions and less generally held than the conclusion.
Paragraph 7 (4) Again, supposing certain withdrawals could effect the same:
Paragraph 8 (5) Moreover, suppose the premisses be less generally held and less credible than the conclusion, or if, though true, they require more trouble to prove than the proposed view.
Paragraph 9 One must not claim that the reasoning to a proposed view shall in every case equally be a view generally accepted and convincing:
Paragraph 10 Whenever by the argument stated something is demonstrated, but that something is other than what is wanted and has no bearing whatever on the conclusion, then no inference as to the latter can be drawn from it:
Paragraph 11 If something were to be shown from premisses, both of which are views generally accepted, but not accepted with like conviction, it may very well be that the conclusion shown is something held more strongly than either.
Paragraph 12 It is also a fault in reasoning when a man shows something through a long chain of steps, when he might employ fewer steps and those already included in his argument:


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