Sample Arguments, Types of Claims, and Logical Fallacies
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Sample Arguments, Types of Claims, and Logical Fallacies AP English III/Mr. Kelly/Fall 2008 To the Editor: Re “Once Elected, Palin Hired Friends and Lashed Foes” (front page, Sept. 14): What struck me most in your article about Sarah Palin is how much her governing style resembles that of George W. Bush. She conducts the business of the state in secret, appoints friends and cronies to positions of power and authority regardless of their credentials, surrounds herself with supporters and refuses to listen to those who disagree with her, and makes decisions based on gut instinct instead of knowledge and thoughtful consideration. It is helpful to have this glimpse into Ms. Palin’s “executive experience,” so Americans can see that it is the same management style that brought us the Iraq war, the tragic lack of response to Hurricane Katrina, a decimated Justice Department and an economy in shambles. Our country cannot afford to have such a leader a heartbeat away from the presidency. Mary Humstone Fort Collins, Colo. Sept. 15, 2008 To the Editor: Because Barack Obama has been campaigning for the presidency for years, journalists feel that he has been suitably “vetted” by them. They treat him with respect, if not awe. Gov. Sarah Palin was unknown until two weeks ago. With just two months to the election, the media are having to cram everything in. They competitively report what they find the minute they find it, with no opportunity to ensure that what they put out is a balanced account. The result is a kind of mean-spirited hysteria that is not fair to the candidate, her family or the voters. Governor Palin is more qualified to be president of the United States than Mr. Obama. Given the inexperience and charisma of his opposition, John McCain’s choice of Ms. Palin was a courageous and frankly brilliant move. The only criticism to be made is this: he should have picked her sooner. Laurie Olsen Rome, Sept. 13, 2008 Five Categories of Claims Argumentative essays are based on a claim, which almost always falls into one of the five following categories. (From Nancy Wood’s Perspectives on Argument, 2nd ed. (pp.161-72) Claims of fact. Is it real? Is it a fact? Did it really happen? Is it true? Does it exist? Examples: Global warming is occurring. Women are just as effective as men in combat. Claims of definition. What is it? What is it like? How should it be classified? How can it be defined? How do we interpret it? Does its meaning shift in particular contexts? Examples: Alcoholism is a disease, not a vice. Claims of cause. How did this happen? What caused it? What led up to this? What are its effects? What will this produce? Examples: The introduction of the computer into university writing classes has enhanced student writing ability. Claims of value. Is it good or bad? Beneficial or harmful? Moral or immoral? Who says so? What do these people value? What value system will be used to judge? Examples: Doctor-assisted suicide is immoral. Claims of policy. What should we do? How are we to act? What policy should we take? What course of action should we take to solve this problem? Examples: We should spend less on the prison systems and more on early intervention programs. Fallacies are not some form of mistake: parents, teachers, politicians, and other rhetoricians may quite purposefully employ ad hominem, false analogy, and appeals to fear and pity to convince their audiences. The goal for the student of rhetoric is to study the types of logical argument and the reliability of this evidence. Writers often employ logical fallacies, such as hasty generalization and oversimplification, to mask problems in their arguments and manipulate their readers.