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By Nota Demopoulou Rethemiotaki

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Sample text

Consequently . . ,” “thus . . ,” “shows that . . ,” “indicates that . . ,” “suggests that . . ,” “it follows that . . ,” and “points to the conclusion that . ” Third, authors may leave out parts of an argument. It is not uncommon when reading archaeology to encounter incompletely formed arguments. The reason is that the training of archaeologists rarely includes exposure to the fundamentals of critical thinking and writing. As a consequence, they may not think to include a critical premise or may assume (incorrectly) that a premise is part of the background knowledge of people who are likely to read the writing.

Part of the argument. Let’s consider an example: [P] Since Iron Age assemblages are above Neolithic assemblages in undisturbed cultural deposits, [C] the Iron Age is more recent than the Neolithic. The first part of the sentence following “Since” is a premise [P], and the last part of the sentence is the conclusion [C]. Since the conclusion is supported by at least one premise (a reason why we should believe it), the sentence contains an argument. Most of us (in our naivety) probably assume that determining whether a set of statements contains an argument or not should be easy.

Therefore, [C] we should burn the prairie. In the first example, the two premises (doing so would increase the browse for buffalo; doing so will increase the preferred forest edge habitat for deer) are independent of each other, since one could be true and the other false (there may be no local forests, for example). In contrast, in the second argument the two premises (not burning the prairie will not attract buffalo; there are too few buffalo on the prairie) are dependent on each other, for if one is not true, then the other cannot support the conclusion either (perhaps there are already plenty of buffalo on the prairie, so even though not burning the prairie will not attract more buffalo, we don’t need to do it, because there are already enough buffalo).

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