What is a Deductive Argument?

Posted by Splice, Essay Tips Chief Writer

A Deductive Argument is a form of argument where the conclusion logically follows from the given premises. If the premises in a deductive argument are true and strongly support the conclusion, then the conclusion of the argument must also be logically true. It basically has three parts: (1) the major premise, (2) the minor premise, and (3) the conclusion.

A premise is a statement in an argument that gives support or reason or for the argument's conclusion. A major premise is the first premise in typical forms of deductive arguments. It contains both the "middle" and "major" terms. The middle term (symbol: M) is basically the term found in the argument's premises and not in the conclusion. The major term is the term found in the major premise and is also the predicate (symbol: P) in the conclusion.

A minor premise is the second premise in a Deductive Argument. It contains both the "middle" and "minor" terms. The minor term is also the subject term (symbol: S) of the conclusion. Here is an example of a simple deductive argument:

All men are mortal.
Socrates is a man.
Therefore, Socrates is a mortal.

In the deductive argument example, All men are mortal is the major premise. Within it, men is the middle term (M) while mortal is the major term. On the other hand, Socrates is a man is the minor premise. Within it, Socrates is the minor term. In the conclusion Socrates is a mortal, Socrates is the subject term (S) while mortal is the predicate term (P). Notice that the conclusion necessarily and logically follows from the given set of premises. That is, the conclusion Socrates is a mortal necessarily follows from the premises All men are mortal and Socrates is a man.

A deductive argument may be valid or invalid, sound or unsound. A deductive argument is valid if the conclusion necessarily follows from the premises and invalid if otherwise. On the other hand, if the premises of the argument are true, then the argument is sound; it is unsound if otherwise. A valid deductive argument may or may not be sound. For a deductive argument to be sound, the premises must be true and the argument valid.

See more examples of deductive arguments.

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