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PERSUASIVE TEXT Basic Elements of Argument Central Argument The main idea, thesis, or point the author is making. Author’s Purpose Is it to inform, entertain, persuade? Usually in persuasive text, the author desires to persuade you to see his or her point of view. Target Audience Who is the text written for? Who is targeted? Who would be most affected by this persuasion? Fact vs. Opinion In persuasive text, the author supplies both. Analyze the statements to determine which he incorporates to prove his point. Fact – statistics, quotes from others, provable sources EXAMPLE: According to a report published in the New Journal of Medicine: 25% of all patients who took this drug showed a decrease in blood pressure. Opinion – cannot be proven EXAMPLE: No one should take this blood pressure medicine since it causes weight gain and nervous tension. !!! WARNING !!! Be careful: some authors word their argument so subtly that the reader may confuse what is actually fact vs. opinion. It takes a careful analysis to determine the difference. • Arguments are presented to persuade the reader to believe the thesis presented. • These arguments can appear in many forms, and a piece of writing can incorporate more than one of the following techniques: Cause and Effect These claims argue that one person, thing, or event caused another thing or event to occur. EXAMPLE: The popularity of SUV's in America has caused pollution to increase. Cause Effect • The reader will need to look closely for the cause/effect relationship; sometimes it is not as obvious as this example. Analogy This is an argument in which a conclusion is drawn about a situation based on similarities of this situation (analogies) to previous situations. It is considered the weakest of all of the techniques. EXAMPLE: It is not a good idea to invade a foreign country and help solve their governmental problems; afterall, look at how disastrous it was for US forces in Vietnam. • We can then proceed to determine whether the two situations/things are indeed similar in the relevant respects, and whether those aspects of similarity support the conclusion. • Did our intervention in Vietnam mirror the intervention and problems? • Is the analogy appropriate? Authority (ethos) Ethos, or the ethical appeal, is based on the character, credibility, or reliability of the writer. There are many ways to establish good character and credibility as an author. EXAMPLE Dr. Montgomery, Chief Medical Examiner, explained the importance of the new found medicine for cancer patients. Dr. Montgomery has studied medicine for over twenty years. Emotion (pathos) Pathos is an appeal based on emotion. It appeals to an audience's needs, values, and emotional sensibilities. EXAMPLE A baby turtle breaks free from the leathery shell of its egg, catching its first glimpse of its first sunrise. It pauses a moment to rest, unaware of the danger that lies so close to it. As the tide comes in, approaching the nest, it also approaches a small pile of metal - cesium. The water draws closer and closer, the turtle unsuspecting of the danger. Finally, the water touches the cesium. The nest is torn to bits in the resulting explosion, destroying even more of an endangered species. We, Americans, can prevent this devastation from occurring again. • What emotional appeal is this attempting to extract from the reader? Logic (logos) Logos is appeal based on logic or reason. Facts or details are given to appeal to the logical side of the brain. It is the exact opposite of using emotion. EXAMPLE By combining cesium and dihydro-oxide in laboratory conditions, and capturing the released energy, ACME has promised to lead the way into the future. Our energy source is clean, safe, and powerful. No pollutants are released into the atmosphere. The world will soon have an excellent source of clean energy. • Can you determine which part(s) of the previous example is actually the logos? • Statements are often made after the fact is stated to further persuade the point. • Again, no emotion will be used.
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