The boys from Monty Python do it again. In philosophy, an argument isn’t just contradiction, it’s “a connected series of statements intended to establish a proposition”. The series of statements are called premises and the proposition they aim to support is the conclusion. If an argument is valid (a good argument), then the truth of the premises guarantees the truth of the conclusion. That is to say, if the premises are true, then the conclusion must also be true. Additionally, if the premises of a valid argument are actually true, then the argument is called sound. Compare the below arguments.
Premise 1: All Philosophers are attractive
Premise 2: Jean-Paul Sartre was a philosopher
Conclusion: Therefore, JPS was attractive
(Valid – but not sound)
Premise 1: All men are mortal
Premise 2: Socrates is a man
Conclusion: Therefore, Socrates is mortal
Sound – therefore also valid
Of course, some arguments aren’t valid at all, they are just jibberish.
Premise 1: All bicycles make fish
Premise 2: Rolls Royce headlamps
Conclusion: Therefore, Morrissey
However, other arguments look like jibberish – but are still valid.
Premise 1: All fish ride bicycles
Premise 2: Morrissey is a fish,
Conclusion: Therefore, Morrissey rides a bicycle
Remember, a valid argument is one where if the premises are true, then the conclusion must be true. An argument may have false premises and a false conclusion, yet still be valid. More logic to follow!