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Hidden assumptions and arguments

So what do these hidden arguments and assumptions look like. Well, here’s a classic example:

These new violent computer games will never become widespread, because most parents don’t like their children decapitating people with chainsaws, even if it is ‘only a game’.

The ‘unseen’ question here is something like: "Are we in danger of an invasion of violent computer games?"

The obvious argument the writer is pursuing here is that these computer games won’t take on. So are there any hidden messages in what he’s saying. Yes!

The writer gives some evidence to support his claim. He (let’s say it’s a he) says that most parents don’t like violent computer games. He uses this to support his claim that the new violent games will not catch on. There’s a hidden assumption here: the writer is assuming that parents control whether their children buy and play computer games.

Now, hidden assumptions aren’t necessarily any less justified than more obvious assumptions. The hard part is searching them out. In this case, this assumption is probably an OK one, although it is obviously more valid for younger children. Older children are usually more financially independent and have the means to purchase the games without their parents knowing.

A hidden argument is even harder to find. Hidden arguments are very common in advertising. Take this rather simple advertisement for instance. The text on the right is telling the reader that by taking a vitamin supplement called Supero, you can improve your general health.

Hidden assumptions and arguments

However, there’s also a picture in the advertisement of a muscly man flexing. The hidden argument or message the advertiser is trying to get across is that if you take these vitamins you’ll get all big and muscly. This hidden argument is trying to appeal to people (guys, mainly) that want bigger muscles. The advertiser is using a hidden argument because they can’t really back it up with any evidence. If they had come straight out and said something like that, the advertisement would look ridiculous and far fetched:

Hidden assumptions and arguments

This is a ridiculous claim to make openly in the advertisement. So instead, they make it using a hidden argument.

Hidden arguments are often weaker or less supported than the obvious arguments. This means that if you can find any, there’s a good chance that there’s something wrong with the argument that you can point out in your analytical essay.