Step 1. Carefully read and think about the argument
When presented with an argument in philosophy (or any other area, for that matter), you should carefully read the argument and identify the primary conclusion and all of the premises used to support that conclusion. Informally, to identify the conclusion ask yourself, What claim or point is the author of the argument trying to make? To identify the premises ask yourself, What reasons are presented to convince you of the truth of the claim? To illustrate this skill, consider this example argument:
It is a good idea to make sure you have working fire alarms in your house. Just look at the family whose house burned down on Christmas. They lost everything in their house, and almost lost their daughter who nearly died of smoke inhalation. Their house did not have working fire alarms, and for that reason, the fire itself went unnoticed while the family slept. They were saved only by the chance occurrence of a neighbor's teenage son arriving home late from a Christmas-eve date who noticed the fire and woke the family up.