Argument Types

What is an Argument Type? 

There are a million arguments, but not a million ways of making an argument. An argument can be broken into steps, each step conforming to one of a small number of types.

  • Argument types make reasoning more objective. The types make it easy to specify an argument exactly.
  • Argument types simplify the building of arguments. The types are a model for the student of how to build up an argument.
  • Argument types introduce critical questions. Each type of argument has characteristic ways in which it can be supported or undermined and these are captured by the critical questions. This helps the student think further about how to develop the argument.
Device Frame

The Argument Types


The Analogy argument type has two or three premises. Analogy is saying that if two things are similar in one way, they are probably similar in another way.


The And argument type can have two or more premises. It is used to connect statements together into one compound statement.


The Because argument type works “backwards”, from effect to cause. Given the situation, what is most likely to account for it?

Cause and Effect

The Cause and Effect argument type has two premises. One is a generalisation about a cause-effect relationship, the other is an event. From these, another event is inferred.


The Combine argument type requires two premises. One is equivalent to a definition or general rule, while the other concerns a specific case. Using the Combine premise, a new fact can be derived about the specific case.


The Confirm argument type has two premises. One is an “if A, then B” statement, and the second says B is true. This confirms that A is true. Confirm is similar to If / Then, but weaker and easier to undermine.

Either / Or

The Either / Or argument type has two premises. One premise presents two alternatives, the other states that one of the alternatives is false (or true). This means the other alternative is true (or false).


The Generalise argument type can have any number of premises. It is used to move from specific cases to a general statement about those cases.

If / Then

The If / Then argument type has two premises. The first is an “if A, then B” statement. The second either says A is true – in which case B is true, or it says B is false – in which case A must be false.


The Opinion argument type has two premises. One says what someone, such as an expert has said. The other says why we should believe them. The conclusion is to believe or do what this person has said.


The Therefore argument type has one or more premises. In this case, one statement ensures the truth or falsity of another, usually based on common sense.


The Value argument type has two premises. One says that a certain state of affairs has value. The other states that an action will bring this about. The conclusion is whether the action should be done or not.