Argument moves in Babylonian Talmud

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The Talmud provides interesting techniques of logical analysis and debate. For all its logical value, Talmudists devised and applied conceptual instruments to unravel tacit implications or ramifications in arguments. The arguments put forward are subjected to these conceptual instruments in order to test their cogency or validity to the extreme. These instruments frequently are casuistic hypothetical situations, applications of Mishna, Baraitot, etc. To the superficial eye, Talmudic arguments seem artificial and not a few times bordering on the absurd. However, these conceptual instruments have a surgical function which they perform well and are very helpful for the patient student.

R. L. Jacobs (The Talmudic Argument, CUP, 13f) asserts that the following argumentative moves are found in Talmud:
  • Arguments based on pure reason
    1. Argument from authority
    2. Argument from comparison
    3. Argument by differentiation
    4. on the contrary argument
    5. acceptance of an argument in part
    6. Argument based on an opponent's position
    7. Argument exposing the flaws in an opponent's argument
  • Arguments based on the facts or interpretation of facts
    1. Argument based on geographical or historical conditions
    2. Argument based on the analysis of states of mind
  • Other types of arguments
    1. Readmission of an argument that has been previously rejected
    2. Argument against a statement of the obvious
  • Arguments from Texts
    1. Argument to resolve a contradiction between two sources
    2. Argument by textual emendation (Mishnah)
    3. Argument from the principle of literary economy
  • Versions of the same argument
    1. argument presented by different teachers
    2. consequences of different arguments
    3. limited application of an argument

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