Definition and Examples of Conclusions in Arguments

Conclusions in Arguments
Words such as therefore, so, hence, and thus are called conclusion-indicators: they signal the arrival of a conclusion in an argument. (Gustav Dejert/Getty Images)

In argumentation, a conclusion is the proposition that follows logically from the major and minor premises in a syllogism. An argument is considered to be successful (or valid) when the premises are true (or believable) and the premises support the conclusion.

"We can always test an argument," says D. Jacquette, "by seeing whether and how far we can modify it in order to attain the opposite conclusion" ("Deductivism and the Informal Fallacies" in Pondering on Problems of Argumentation, 2009).

Examples and Observations

  • "Here is a simple list of statements:
    Socrates is a man.
    All men are mortal.
    Socrates is mortal.
    The list is not an argument, because none of these statements is presented as a reason for any other statement. It is, however, simple to turn this list into an argument. All we have to do is to add the single word 'therefore':
    Socrates is a man.
    All men are mortal.
    Therefore, Socrates is mortal.
    Now we have an argument. The word 'therefore' converts these sentences into an argument by signaling that the statement following it is a conclusion and the statement or statements that come before it are offered as reasons on behalf of this conclusion. The argument we have produced in this way is a good one, because the conclusion follows from the reasons stated on its behalf."
    (Walter Sinnott-Armstrong and Robert J. Fogelin, Understanding Arguments: An Introduction to Informal Logic, 8th ed. Wadsworth, 2010)
  • Premises That Lead to a Conclusion
    "Here is an example of an argument. This job description is inadequate because it is too vague. It doesn't even list the specific tasks that should be performed, and it doesn't say how my perfomance will be evaluated. 'This job description is inadequate' is the conclusion and is stated first in the argument. The reasons advanced to support this conclusion are: 'It is too vague,' 'It doesn't list specific tasks,' and 'It doesn't state how performance will be evaluated.' They are the premises. If you accept the premises as true, you have good grounds for accepting the conclusion 'The job description is inadequate' is true."
    (Michael Andolina, Practical Guide to Critical Thinking. Delmar, 2002)
  • The Conclusion as Claim
    "When someone makes an argument, typically that person is, at the minimum, advancing a claima statement the advocate believes or is in the process of evaluating—and also providing a reason or reasons for believing or considering that claim. A reason is a statement advanced for the purpose of establishing a claim. A conclusion is a claim that has been reached by a process of reasoning. The rational movement from a particular reason or reasons to a particular conclusion is called an inference, a conclusion drawn on the basis of reasons."
    (James A. Herrick, Argumentation: Understanding and Shaping Arguments, 3rd ed. Strata, 2007)
  • Misdirected Argumentation
    "This general fault [misdirected argumentation] refers to cases in which there is a line of argumentation moving along other than the path of argumentation leading towards the conclusion to be proved. In some such cases the path leads to the wrong conclusion, and in these cases the fallacy of wrong conclusion can be said to have been committed. In other cases the path leads away from the conclusion to be proved, but not to any specific alternative conclusion, as far as we can judge from the data given in the case. [See the fallacy of the red herring.]"
    (Douglas Walton, Argumentation Methods for Artificial Intelligence in Law. Springer, 2005)
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Your Citation
Nordquist, Richard. "Definition and Examples of Conclusions in Arguments." ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, Nordquist, Richard. (2021, February 16). Definition and Examples of Conclusions in Arguments. Retrieved from Nordquist, Richard. "Definition and Examples of Conclusions in Arguments." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 4, 2023).