Creating a Logical Argument

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By Chris Leslie

A logical argument is necessary to help the reader understand a document. Without a logical argument, writing seems to be disorganized and thoughts seem to be thrown at the reader in no particular order. With a logical argument, thoughts clearly lead to one another.

One way to demonstrate a logical argument is the use of transitional signals. Each paragraph should begin with some indication of its relationship to the document as a whole. Transitions indicate to the reader why the paragraph is there. Often, you can do this with a word or two; other times, a full sentence may be needed.

The most common transitional signal is repetition. You can use repetition to indicate that there is no shift in the ideas; when words are repeated readers know that they are at the base level of the argument. A change of direction, however, is indicated by transitional words and phrases.

The concept of thermal insulation was investigated in this experiment. A container was designed [...]

Thermal insulation is a repetition of the lab's title. The reader knows that the general situation will be discussed.

If a heated egg is set on a table it will reach equilibrium with

its environment quickly.

Heat will be lost due to conduction, as heat [...]

The word if sets up the reader for a hypothetical case. Inventing an example of an ideal case is a good way to provide an illustration for the reader.

In this experiment, the team had to build a container that would slow down the process of heat loss. [...]

The words In this experiment signal to the reader that the hypothetical case is going to be contrasted with a specific case.

The design also had to adhere to the principle of minimal design. Minimal design means that [...]

The word also indicates that there is information being added to the argument; here, another consideration is mentioned.

In order to evaluate the design, the insulating capacity (IC) [...]

In order to indicates that the document will next examine a reason.

Thermal insulation is important to engineers because much effort goes into changing the temperature [...]

Thermal insulation repeats the title, as did the first paragraph. It indicates a return to a discussion of the general topic.

Here are some common transitional words. Try to use them, along with repetition, to demonstrate a logical argument.

  • Addition: in addition (to); also, too, as well (as); besides, beyond that, equally important (as, to); first, second, finally; for another thing; furthermore, likewise, similarly, in the same way, moreover; next
  • Concession: of course, certainly, granted
  • Contrast: in contrast, on the contrary; on one hand [...] on the other hand; however, nevertheless, conversely; after all, although this may be true, yet, and yet, but, even so, otherwise, still
  • Emphasis: after all, certainly, indeed,especially, in any event, in fact, in other words, in particular, indeed, most important(ly)
  • Example: for example, as an example, as an illustration, for instance, in this case, in other words, in particular, specifically, namely, that is
  • Reason: for this purpose, for this reason, to this end, in order to [...]
  • Result: therefore, for that (this) reason, accordingly, as a consequence (to)/consequently, as a result, that being the case, then, thus, so
  • Summary: in summary, in conclusion, as has been noted, as was said, finally, in brief, in other words, in short, in sum
  • Time: currently, afterward, before; finally, briefly, promptly, soon, immediately; while, during

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