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2.6 The Rabbit Rule

In the remainder of this tutorial, we will explore some simple principles which help us identify all the co-premises in a simple argument.

The first principle is the Rabbit Rule.  It says that any significant term or concept which appears in the contention must also appear in one of the premises. 


This classic, simple argument conforms to the Rabbit Rule.


This simple argument from Tutorial 1 violates the Rabbit Rule. It is not yet properly mapped.



The Rabbit Rule is one of the key principles of structure for simple arguments.  A fully articulated simple argument MUST obey the Rabbit Rule.

Why is it called the Rabbit Rule?  The idea behind the rule is that you can't pull rabbits out of hats just by magic.  If a rabbit appears above the hat, it must have been put in there previously.  In argument mapping terms, nothing can magically appear in the contention; it must have been put in the premises first. 

The Rabbit Rule is a very simple idea.  However, properly applied, it has an amazing - almost magical! - effect in forcing hidden premises out into the open.  But the simplicity of the Rabbit Rule is in a way misleading.  Applying it properly is often a lot harder than you would expect.

Corresponding to the Rabbit Rule there is the Rabbit Test.  This is a simple test to determine whether you have a properly structured argument.  To apply the Rabbit test, just examine the contention to see if there are any significant terms or concepts which appear there but not in any premise.  If there are any, the argument fails the Rabbit Test.

Applying the Rabbit Test will give you clues as to what is going to have to go in any additional co-premises required to make the argument properly structured.

New Concepts

The Rabbit Rule: every significant word, phrase or concept appearing in the contention of a simple argument must also appear in one of the premises.

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