Argument Identification: The Problem of Non-Argumentative Phenomena

Teaching Philosophy (forthcoming)
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A major part of philosophical work is engagement with argumentative texts. Engaging with an argumentative text involves correctly identifying the arguments presented in this text. In the context of teaching philosophy in school, the difficulty of correctly identifying arguments in philosophical texts is often underestimated. In this paper, I focus on one specific problem with argument identification that has been neglected in philosophy didactics thus far: the problem that there are many non-argumentative phenomena in an argumentative text that are easily misidentified as expressing (part of) an argument. It is easy to fall for such phenomena if one is not aware of this problem, thereby misinterpreting the author’s intentions. This paper aims to present and discuss such phenomena, as well as to provide guidelines on how to help students recognize them.

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Matthias Holweger
University of Tuebingen


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