Premise & Conclusion

Premise & Conclusion

They are the constitutive elements of an argument.  They are also the definition of an argument. An argument is nothing more than just a premise plus a conclusion.

So, let’s take a closer look at what "premise" and "conclusion" actually entail.

These are the four things you really need to remember about premise and conclusion.

1. How to recognize them

First of all you have to know how to recognize them.  This is tactically very important. When you’re actually doing the LSAT and you have to figure out whether the argument is good or bad, you better be able to tell premises apart from conclusions fast.  Otherwise you won't even know what the argument is.  We'll cover this in a later lesson.

2. Support is the relationship

We've covered this in a previous lesson, but remember that support is the relationship between the premise and the conclusion.

3. Definition of premise

The definition of premise is "a sentence that supports another sentence."  It's not hard to remember, but, in order for you to internalize the definition, in order for these words to mean something to you, that might take some time.  For some of you, I’m sure this is all very old news, but for others, it might take some time.  It’s not hard.  A sentence that supports another sentence.  But, what’s this mysterious “other sentence?”

4. Definition of conclusion

It's the conclusion.  The definition of conclusion is “a sentence that is supported by another sentence." Similarly here, what’s the “other sentence?”  It’s the premise!

Is it all coming together now?  A premise is a premise only in so far as it supports another sentence.  A conclusion is a conclusion only in so far as it is supported by another sentence. So really, they define each other.  The definitions are dependent on each other.  That shouldn't be surprising because after all, these two ideas – premise and conclusion – they exist in a relationship where one supports the other and the other is supported by the first.

As you get more and more advanced with evaluating arguments, you'll come to see that all the weakening questions, all the strengthening questions and all the Logical Reasoning questions on the LSAT really just gets to the root of the idea of "support." Do you really know what it means for one idea to support another idea?

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