A Little Roundup of Modus Tollens in the Flesh

Teaching Philosophy 30 (1):111 (2007)
Modus Tollens is the following valid deductive argument form: “If P, then Q. (But) Not Q. Therefore not P.” I show how this structure plays an important part in everyday argument and in everyday non-argument; I show how the argument form fits into non-argument cases. The structure is common as argument, as rhetorical emphasis, and as explanation. Students can see how this pattern is rooted in everyday thought, when elements of the structure are unspoken but nonetheless relied upon, what pictures the structure evokes, and how these pictures and this pattern fit into everyday thought and discourse. Many examples are provided. A homework handout is presented which encourages the student to find and explicate sample cases from current media, world literature, movies, proverbs, etc
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