Periodic Table of Arguments

The atomic building blocks of persuasive discourse

Argument from criterion

Schermafdruk 2018-03-19 21.02.35The argument from criterion is a first-order predicate argument that supports a value with a fact (1 pre VF).



Schermafdruk 2018-03-17 20.35.43

Unauthorized downloading is not theft, because it doesn’t deprive the original owner of use

The arguer states in the conclusion that some activity is not to be viewed as theft and supports this claim by stating that the activity doesn’t deprive the original owner of use. Since the argument fits the form a is X, because is Y, it can be identified as a first-order predicate argument. In this specific case, a is instantiated by ‘unauthorized downloading’, Y is instantiated by ‘is not theft’, and X is instantiated by ‘doesn’t deprive the original owner of use’.

Unauthorized downloading (a) is not theft (X), because unauthorized downloading (a) doesn’t deprive the original owner of use (Y)

First-order predicate arguments are further differentiated by identifying the types of statement in the conclusion and the premise. In this case, the former is a statement of value (a legal qualification) and the latter a statement of fact, which means that we are dealing with a first-order predicate argument supporting a value with a fact (1 pre VF).

The trivial name of first-order predicate arguments is derived from the characterization of the relationship between the predicates X and Y. In this example, the fact that something does not deprive the original owner of use (Y) functions as a criterion for not qualifying it as theft (X). We can therefore call such an argument an ‘argument from criterion’.


The example is taken from a comment upon an article published on on 05.04.2010.