Difference between a sound and Valid Argument: This article discusses the difference between a sound and valid argument. A deductive argument is valid if the premises are true and the conclusion is false. If not it is invalid. A deductive argument, one the other hand, is sound if the it is valid and its premises are true. Before diving into the meat of this article, we would be discussing what a deductive and inductive reasoning entails, so that you don’t get confused when the word comes up.
When we talk about deductive reasoning, we are referring to a type of argument in which a general premise leads to a specific conclusion. The premise is that deductive argument, because it is a law, a rule or a general principle, is accepted as true. In short, deductive reasoning is one that starts from premises that necessarily lead to a conclusion.
There is no new information provided in the conclusion for deductive reasoning but a confirmation of the premise. Also, this is one of the main types of reasoning along with inductive and abductive.
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The inductive argument requires the observation of a large number of cases. When we observe that there are certain patterns that are repeated in them, we generalize arguing that if it is repeated in those observed, it is repeated in all cases. In the scientific field, it is developed through the inductive method. It is about moving from the particular to the general.
This argument has an advantage because the new knowledge has more info than the premises. The premises are parts of the resulting argument, which is the whole.
In this type of argument, the premises we use provide us with a solid foundation, but they do not guarantee the validity of our argument, since there can always be exceptions.
The idea of a valid argument is one of the most important concepts in critical thinking, so make sure you fully understand this topic. Basically, a valid argument is one in which the premises lead to the conclusion. What this means is that if the premises are true, the conclusion must also be true. This is a valid argument with a conclusion: Moby Dick is a whale. All whales have fins. So, Moby Dick has fins. This is another argument with only one premise and one conclusion: Barbie is 90 years old. So Barbie is over 20 years old. In both arguments, if all the premises are true, there is no way for the conclusion to be false. So the arguments are indeed valid.
Note that the validity of the argument does not depend on whether the premise is actually true. Consider the second argument above. Even if Barbie is really just a ten-year-old girl, the argument still holds true. It depends on the logical connection between the premises and conclusion. It does not depend on its actual truth or falsehood.
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Difference Between A Sound And Valid Argument
1. A valid argument can have false premises and a true conclusion: A valid argument can also have a false premise but a true conclusion, like when Barbie is 30 years old. This, however, is not a valid argument. It’s not valid: Barbie is over 20 years old. So, Barbie is over 90 years old. The argument is invalid because it is possible for the premise to be true and the conclusion to be false. For example, Barbie could be 21 years old. Or she could be 80. These situations are counterexamples to the plot.
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2. Basically, a valid argument is an argument with no possible counterexamples: To sharpen your skills in evaluating arguments, it is important that you are able to discover and construct counterexamples. Giving a counterexample can help you convince other people that a certain argument is wrong. There are some important points worth remembering: An invalid argument can have true premises and a true conclusion.
In the above argument, both the premise and the conclusion are true if Barbie is 99 years old. But remember that true premises and a true conclusion are not enough for validity, because the logical connection between them is missing. This means that an argument with true premises and a conclusion can still be a bad argument.
Take note of the distinction we are making between validity and truth. The statements (the premises and the conclusion) can be true or false, but they are neither valid nor invalid. Arguments can be valid or invalid, but must never be described as true or false. It is possible to have a valid argument where the premises are false but the conclusion is true.
Validity only guarantees that when you start with true premises, you end up with a conclusion that is true. So we should never say things like your assumptions are false, so even if your reasoning is logical your conclusion cannot be true.
Soundness: An argument is sound if it is
b. It’s premises are true.
Sound arguments end with a true conclusion.
This is an example of a valid and sound argument:
In some states, no criminals are policemen.
In those states, some politicians are
Therefore, in some states, some politicians are not criminals.
This statement shows that sound arguments always end with true conclusions. The premises are actually true if they provide the right sort of support for the conclusion. Sound arguments start out with true premises and have a form that guarantees that the conclusion must be true if the premises are. An example of an argument that is sound is all rabbits ARE in fact mammals, and Bugs Bunny IS in fact a rabbit.
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Things to note when evaluating an argument
a. Solidity: When an argument is sound, all
we know is that the conclusion is true if the premises are true. However, validity does not reveal the truth of the premises or the conclusion. An argument is strong if it is valid and all of its premises are true. Naturally, this definition implies that a convincing argument must also have a valid conclusion. It would be nice if we could provide solid arguments to back up our opinions during discussion. This requires demonstrating the validity of our argument and the truth of each of the presumptions.
Those who disagree would have to demonstrate either that the argument is invalid or that not all of the premises are true. When it comes to argument analysis, these are good habits to develop to improve critical thinking: Clearly identify an argument’s premises. Can we clearly state our assumptions? Verify the validity of the presumptions. Analyze the argument’s veracity. Even if the premises are correct, the argument’s logical reasoning may still be quite poor.
The reasoning and the evaluation of the premises are two distinct tasks. Always try to find more than one argument to support a particular conclusion when arguing for it. This would strengthen your argument. A critical thinking ability is the capacity to count the number of arguments in favor of a position.
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b. Negative Assumptions: When people argue, there are times when certain assumptions are made. Example: Because it is not natural, it is wrong to create animals with human DNA. The argument as it stands is unfounded. The implicit assumption that anything that is unnatural is wrong is probably in mind by the person making this argument.
The argument becomes valid only when this assumption is added. After pointing this out, we can consider whether or not it is justified. We could argue, for instance, that numerous unnatural activities (such as circumcision, going to the moon, cosmetic surgery, etc.) are not typically regarded as immoral.
Identifying an argument’s hidden assumption can aid in dispute resolution or clarification. Many arguments in everyday life are based on significant implicit assumptions that have not been made clear. Being able to identify these assumptions is an essential component of effective critical thinking. Identifying which additional premises an argument requires to be valid is one important approach.
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In conclusion, the two ways of evaluating a deductive argument is to find out if the premises provide support for the conclusion by examing the form of the argument. If that’s the case, then it is valid. Secondly, ask whether the premises are true or false. If it passes both of the tests then it is sound. If an argument doesn’t pass any of this tests, it’s conclusion may still be true, though no support for its truth is given by the argument.
Edeh Samuel Chukwuemeka, ACMC, is a lawyer and a certified mediator/conciliator in Nigeria. He is also a developer with knowledge in various programming languages. Samuel is determined to leverage his skills in technology, SEO, and legal practice to revolutionize the legal profession worldwide by creating web and mobile applications that simplify legal research. Sam is also passionate about educating and providing valuable information to people.