5.3: Formal and informal argument
In a nutshell
The following presents what you essentially need to know about this topic.
In a nutshell - Text version
- All academic writing uses a combination of formal and informal argument to persuade the reader of the truth of its claims.
- Before considering these kinds of arguments, it is useful to distinguish between ‘formal’ and ‘natural’ language.
- ‘Formal’ language is a rule-governed set of symbols whose arrangement expresses certain relations; for example, in formal logic, mathematics and computer code.
- ‘Natural’ language is ordinary human language (such as English or Chinese) which refers to objects, representations and ideas and is primarily used for communication.
- A formal argument is an argument expressed in either formal or natural language, which is validated solely in terms of its logical form.
- An informal argument is an argument expressed in natural language which may obscure in its logical form, and which is validated mainly by the persuasive power of words.
- If you want more information about this topic, refer to ‘The complete’ version below.
The complete version
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