This handout discusses presumptions using a sample article about environmental racism and Hurricane Katrina. (It’s the same article used in the handout on creating a paragraph outline.)


All arguments require assumptions.

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This handout discusses different types of assumptions and also gives examples. However first, a definition:

An assumption is a point that the writer doesn’t also try come prove.

Rather than proving the assumption, the author simply assumes it is true.

Remember: An assumption is not a allude that the writer tries to prove and fails. It’s a allude he or she doesn’t even try to prove.

Assumptions and also Theses: Comparison and also Contrast

Here space two necessary ways the an presumption is favor a thesis:

An assumption can it is in proved and also disproved.An assumption can it is in expressed only as a complete, explain sentence (not a question, no a word or expression or fragment).

And below are two methods that an presumption is not favor a thesis:

The writer never tries come prove an assumption, whereas the author constantly tries come prove the thesis.The thesis is what the record is aiming at; the assumptions are what that starts from. Premises

An assumption on i m sorry the dispute depends is also sometimes dubbed a premise. for example, in the classic syllogism:

All men are mortal;Socrates is a man;therefore, Socrates is mortal.

the an initial two statements are premises. They room assumptions, due to the fact that no effort is made to prove them. We simply assume they are true. However the 3rd statement relies on them: if they are true, the is true. If one of two people of them to be false, the 3rd statement would certainly be one of two people false or unproven.

All arguments—all attempts to prove something—require assumptions. They are not bad; they are, on the contrary, essential. If girlfriend tried to prove every point you would never finish, because every proof would depend on another point or points, i beg your pardon would need to be proved, and so on come infinity. So you need assumptions, yet you also need to be cautious with them. Know what lock are, test them to be certain you think they’re valid, and try to use only those the your reader is likely to share.

Think about proving a thesis. One basic procedure because that doing therefore is as follows. We begin with the thesis—the point we want to prove. Then, us list points we would have to prove in order to prove the thesis. Then we list points essential to prove those points. That procedure could walk on forever—but in ~ some suggest you have to stop. In ~ that allude you i think no additional proof is needed. The cheat is learning when to stop, i m sorry points do not need proof.

Thesis: The overall point the essay is trying to prove.

First main allude that you need to prove come prove the thesisFirst sub-point come prove the an initial main pointAssumption: At part level you avoid proving points. You simply assume they’re true.Second sub-pointAssumptionThird sub-pointAssumptionSecond main pointFirst sub-pointAssumptionSecond sub-pointAssumptionThird sub-pointAssumptionThird main pointFirst sub-pointAssumptionSecond sub-pointAssumptionThird sub-pointAssumption

As you have the right to see, most disagreements actually involve many assumptions, at the very least one because that each sub-point.

To keep things simple, I’ll usually refer to “assumptions.” however most of the time, as soon as talking around assumptions I’m talking about the special subset of assumptions called premises—the ones the are required to prove the thesis.

Types that Assumptions

Assumptions can be either explicit (directly stated) or implicit (not directly stated however implied). As soon as you determine someone’s assumptions, look because that both kinds.

An explicit premise in the sample article is the statement the “the stranded were poor, black, disproportionately elderly” (paragraph 5). The author states this however makes no attempt to prove it, probably because she figures it’s obvious: No proof needed.

An implicit premise in the article is the assumption that racism is a bad thing. She never ever says this, and she absolutely never tries to prove it, but it is straightforward to the suggest she is trying to make.

Notice that an presumption can be, and often is, perfect reasonable. Assumptions are not necessarily errors—they are an indispensable part of any argument, the radical on which it rests.

Some assumptions deal with facts, choose the statement “all men are mortal.” an instance of a factual presumption in the sample write-up would be the statement about those stranded in brand-new Orleans. An additional is the case that “The ’toxic soup’ that has actually received much public fist is filled v the effluence from the oil and also petrochemical industry” (paragraph 4). Both these assumptions address straightforward factual information that can be measure or it was observed directly.

Other presumptions are analytical. castle are based upon facts, but they walk a step additional in making some kind of declare about those facts—interpreting them, analyzing them, explaining them, judging or ranking or weighing them. An instance of one analytical assumption in the sample would be that “larger systemic problems ... , such as the exemption of voices and also perspectives of gyeongju minorities and working-class populaces from ecological policy-making,” caused environmental racism (paragraph 5). This presumption goes past measurable or observable data to examine meanings and also relationships. Together such, the is always much more open to dispute than factual assumptions which—at least in theory—can be showed or disproved by direct observation.

Still various other assumptions address values. uneven factual and also analytical assumptions, which can be defended with evidence and reason, it is virtually impossible come prove values. Either you share them or you don’t. Among the sample article’s implicit assumptions around values is that negative people and people of shade should not experience unfair effects simply because of your socio-economic status. This presumption depends on ideas around what is “fair” that are really difficult, if not impossible, to protect with evidence and also reason. This walk not mean they space wrong, just that you space unlikely to to convince anyone the them with logical argument.

The assumptions you recognize in the assigned reading can be clear or implicit, and they can be factual, analysis or relating to values.

Identifying, examining and revising Your very own Assumptions

Like the write-ups you read and also analyze, any kind of argument you do will additionally contain assumptions. Often we are not aware of the assumptions we make, and sometimes us make bad presumptions without establish it. One important component of persuasive writing is to research your own assumptions to make sure that they are valid and consistent with the argument, and also to revise those that room mistaken.

You can analyze her own assumptions in the same method that you analysis others’. After writing a draft of your argument, go through the main points and try to point out the cases you make, or those friend imply, that you execute not shot to prove. Make a list of the most vital ones.

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Once girlfriend have established your assumptions you will want some strategies for handling them. Revising presumptions discusses 4 things you can do through your very own assumptions.