An argument is a statement to prove and strengthen a statement (thesis). The greater the quality of the arguments that are found for a thesis, the stronger it is. An authority argument is an argument that refers to verifiable statements by professionals as well as persons with significant influence in an area → argument types.
An authority is a person who has a very great influence in a field. This can either be because it has a lot of expertise or there is a clear relationship of authority between that person and the others (superior / employee, teacher / student). If authority is recognized in other people, they will orient themselves to their actions and thoughts. An authority argument therefore refers to such an authority. Let’s look at an example.
A spokesman for the duden said that the spelling reform was pointless.
The reform should therefore be reversed.
The authority argument is supported in the above example by the editors of the duden. The Duden is in our society one of the most important instances in terms of spelling and grammar. If the editors came to the conclusion that the reform is completely superfluous, the thesis that one should reverse it, of course, can enormously strengthen.
Logically, the strength of such a statement depends very much on the authority that is used for the reasoning and also on the extent to which the chosen group or person is socially and / or socially recognized. Let us also look at another example.
Ms Meyer said that you can not rely on her property.
That is why you are not allowed to enter her garden.
Also in this example, the thesis, namely, that one should not enter a certain property, is strengthened with an authority. In this case, Mrs. Meyer. Perhaps she is a teacher or a different person of respect for the speaker, which is why she is also cited as the basis and proof of the authority.
However, Ms Meyer is not a person of public life or has influence in her role as a teacher on a very, very large group of people. This means, however, that the authority argument only works for the person who acknowledges Ms Meyer as an authority.
Note: This means that authority arguments only apply when the authority mentioned plays a role for both parties, ie, the sender of the statement and the recipient (reader, listener). If a person who does not have authority as an authority formulated a norm, this can, of course, still apply and strengthen the thesis (→ normative argument).
Use of Authority Patents
In Europe, there is a long tradition of leading authorities to reaffirm a thesis. Let us think, for example, of the Bible or other religious communities.
Nowadays, the Bible is no longer literally interpreted, but a few centuries ago that looked quite different. When a belief is formulated in the Bible, the authority is usually God or the Son of the Holy Father, that is, Jesus Christ.
If, in the Bible, sentences and statements are formulated, we are thinking, for example, of the Old Testament’s ten commandments, we can summarize them as ecclesial dogmatics. A dogma is understood as an opinion or a content, the truth of which is regarded as irrefutable.
This means that almost all religious communities rely on authority instruments to transport their own content. In this case, the authority is God or a comparable authority. However, such arguments are not to be judged as serious because an authority argument must fulfill certain conditions in order to be scientifically valid.
Trust: The authority quoted must be trustworthy because it has proved its worth.
Correctness: The authority was correctly quoted in the context.
Competence: The person mentioned has competence in the respective field.
Argumentation: The rules of argumentation were adhered to.
Diversity of opinion: Authorities who say the contrary are led and disproved.
The most important thing in the short overview
An authority argument refers to an authority to strengthen a thesis. An authority is defined as a person who is socially and socially recognized in a particular field.
The authorities mentioned can be perceived as strong or weak. The more acknowledged the authoritarian status of a personality or group is to be stronger they are to strengthen an argument with their help.
Faiths are almost always based on authority arguments and thus create the dogma, that is, the rules of the respective community. Knowledge