Necessary Assumptions

Informal Logic 19 (1):41-61 (1999)
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In their book EVALUATING CRITICAL THINKING Stephen Norris and Robert Ennis say: “Although it is tempting to think that certain [unstated] assumptions are logically necessary for an argument or position, they are not. So do not ask for them.” Numerous writers of introductory logic texts as well as various highly visible standardized tests (e.g., the LSAT and GRE) presume that the Norris/Ennis view is wrong; the presumption is that many arguments have (unstated) necessary assumptions and that readers and test takers can reasonably be expected to identify such assumptions. This paper proposes and defends criteria for determining necessary assumptions of arguments. Both theoretical and empirical considerations are brought to bear.
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