Self-Argued Claim

1. Argumentation as a composition of statements

1.1 Argument, claim

Consider a discourse, composed of two statements, {S1, S2}. This sequence is argumentative if it can be paraphrased using some of the following sentences:

S1 backs, supports, motivates, justifies, S2
, so, thus, … S2
E2, because, since, as, given that, … S1

The Argumentation within Language theory formulates the same relation in a way that has proved extremely fruitful: the conclusion, it is what the speaker has in mind or in view, what he or she is getting at, when he or she produces the argument:

The speaker puts forward D1, in order to, with a view to… D2.
The reason why he states D1 is D2.
The meaning of D1, that is the direction towards which it strives, the sense… of D1 is D2.
and, ultimately, “D1, i.e., that is to say, in other words, that means, D2
S: — You say you have homework, that means that you will not go out with us tonight?

A conclusion can thus be introduced not by a connector or an indicator of consequence, but by a connector of reformulation. The claim D2 essentially “repackages” the argument, revealing the contextual meaning of the statement as argument. The interlocutor fully understands the statement-argument, only if the conclusion is grasped S. Orientation.

The claim is somehow integrated in the argument. This is why the conclusions may frequently remain implicit.

1.2 Argument, conclusion, inferring license

It is generally assumed that the argument-claim link is provided by a topic, an argument scheme, often left implicit; the consistency of a chain:

The wind is rising, it will rain.

is based on the empirically observed regularity:

Generally, when that kind of wind comes up, it rains.

From an epistemic perspective, there is “more” in the argument than in the conclusion, as far as the argument is more reliable than the conclusion, which is only a hypothetical projection of the argument. From a semantic perspective however, there is “less” in the argument than in the conclusion, to the extent that the conclusion is more than an analytical development of the argument, it is the product of this argument enriched and structured by its combination with a general scheme or topic.

1.3 Argument, conclusion, inferring license, modal

This combination corresponds to Toulmin’s layout of argument, which articulates the argumentative unit around five elements, Data, Claim, the two-level transition principle, Warrant and Backing, and finally, a Qualifier which refers to the argument Rebuttal conditions ([1958], chap. 3).

2. Self-argued conclusions

From the perspective of the theory of knowledge, in order to be valid an argumentation must be expressed in a coordinated sequence “S1 (argument), S2 (claim)”, such that the claim is not a reformulation of the argument. It follows that it must be possible to assess each statement independently. This is the case in the following sentence, “the wind has picked up, it will rain”, which expresses two independently observable facts, the fact that there is wind and the fact that it will rain a little later. The first fact is measured by an anemometer, the second by a rain gauge, two devices which operate according to entirely different principles.

In ordinary discourse, not only is the conclusion already present, if not contained, in the argument (cf. §1.1), but the argument statement can also be embedded in the concluding statement in the form of a subordinated clause or somehow integrated in a component phrase of the statement expressing the claim:

These people come to work in our country, welcome them!
let us welcome these people who come to work!

Ultimately, the argument is absorbed within the meaning of one key term of the statement,

let us welcome these workers!

In this case, the argument is included in the word (Empson [1940]); the statement is self-argued, it expresses a complete perspective, which presents itself as obvious, irrefutable.

Scientific language has one tier of signification, while natural language has several and relies on implicit significations. This essential fact opposes scientific languages and natural language. Arguments loaded with a preordained conclusion they “support” can be considered to be “biased”, fallacious, and censored as such. But this is a rather desperate maneuver. It does not makes much sense to pretend to develop critical thinking about human affairs whilst ignoring or condemning the medium and substance which makes the very stuff of all transactions concerning human affairs, and will continue to retain this function for a long time.