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					Everything’s an Argument

  English 102
What is argument?
 NOT a fight
 NOT a pro-con debate
 The goal is not to WIN, but to find
  and promote the best belief or course
  of action
 Think of it as a cooperative inquiry
 Searching for truth
What is rhetoric?
 In popular usage, rhetoric often
  means empty or deceptive language
 Another related meaning is decorative
  or artificial language
 Aristotle’s definition: the art of
  determining what will be persuasive
  in every situation
Explicit or Implicit
 Class discussion activity
 Half of the groups will examine fig.
  1.4 and the other half will examine
  fig. 1.5
 Discuss in groups and then we will
  present our findings
Defining features of argument
 An argument requires justification of
  its claims
 Two conflicting assertions and an
  attempt to resolve the conflict
  through an appeal to reason
 Unstated assumption, or warrant
 Argument combines truth seeking
  and persuasion
 He believed that the good person’s duty is
  not to win an argument but to pursue truth
 We live in a pluralistic, multicultural world
  with competing visions of truth
 You must forge a personal stance based on
  your examination of all the evidence and
  your articulation of values that you can
  make public and defend
Argument is a process and a
 A process in which the best solution is
 A product can be a person’s contribution to
  the conversation
 Informal discussions, speeches
 Many written types- grant proposals, legal
  briefs, newspaper editorials, articles, blogs,
  advocacy web sites,etc.
 Visual arguments and documentaries
Who writes arguments?
   Lobbyists and advocacy groups
   Politicians
   Business professionals, labor union leaders
   Lawyers and judges
   Media commentators
   Think tanks
   Scholars
   Film makers
   Citizens and students
“Petition to Waive the University
Mathematics Requirement”
   Separate   class into three groups.
   Group 1:   University Standards Committee
   Group 2:   college students
   Group 3:   mathematics teachers

 Read selection
 Arrive at a group decision on whether to
  exempt this student from the math
A successful argument…
 Considers the needs of the audience
 What are their expectations?
 What are their values- personal,
  social, cultural?
 What is their attitude toward the
 Arguments should always be tailored
  to suit the needs of the audience.
Finding issues to explore
 Good writing grows out of good
  talking- talk with friends, be open to
  issues around you
 Brainstorm
 Explore ideas by free writing
 Idea mapping
 The believing and doubting game
Play the Game
 A student should report a fellow
  student who is cheating on an exam
  or plagiarizing an essay.
 Free write as a believer- what are all
  the reasons to agree?
 and again as a doubter- do your best
  to find counterexamples that
  undermine the idea
Thinking dialectically
 Bring texts and conflicting ideas into
  conversation with one another
 Playing these ideas against each other,
  creating a tension that forces you to keep
  expanding your perspective
 What would writer A say to writer B?
  (example article)
 Effective discussion are one way to foster
  dialectic thinking- Socratic seminar
Obstacles to argument
 The fanatical believer
 The fanatical skeptic
 Lack of shared assumptions- One
  can’t argue about the causes of global
  warming with someone who doesn’t
  believe that global warming is real
Classical Structure of Argument
 Introduction- memorable scene, illustrative
  story, startling statistic. Conclude with
  thesis statement.
 Background and presentation of writer’s
  position- reasons and evidence
 Summary and critique of alternate views
 Conclusion- often includes a call to action
 Classical structure is good for a neutral
 Compare with textbook p.172-173
The Rhetorical Triangle

Issue questions- the origins of
 Working in your group, decide which
  of the following questions are
  information questions and which are
  issue questions. Many could be
  either, depending on the rhetorical
  context. For such questions, create
  hypothetical contexts to show your
1. What percentage of public high
   schools in the US are failing?
2. What is the cause of failing public
   schools in the United States?
3. What is the effect of violent TV shows
   on children?
4. Is genetically modified corn safe for
   human consumption?
5. Should a woman with newly detected
   breast cancer opt for a radical
   mastectomy or a lumpectomy?
 Once you have an answer to your
  issue question, you have created your
 Your claim is your essay’s thesis
  statement, a one-sentence summary
  answer to your issue question.
 Next, you must support your claim
  with reasons.
 A reason is also called a premise.
 Claim: Women should be barred from joining military
  combat units.
 Reason 1: Women for the most part don’t have the
  strength or endurance for combat roles.
 Reason 2: Women in close-knit combat units would
  hurt unit morale by introducing sexual jealousies.
 Reason 3: Women haven’t been socialized into
  fighters and wouldn’t have the “kill them with a
  bayonet” spirit that men can get.
 Reason 4: Women would be less reliable to a combat
  unit if they became pregnant or had to care for infants
  or small children.
Developing claims and reasons
 In groups- pick an issue and develop
  a claim supported by several reasons.
  Express each reason as a because
  clause. Then write out the working
  thesis statement by attaching the
  because clauses to the claim.
 NOTE: Don’t use the word “prove” in
  your thesis.
The Core of an Argument: The
Enthymeme (The Toulmin Model)
 “Women should be allowed to join combat
  units because the image of women in
  combat would help eliminate gender
  stereotypes” is an incomplete logical
  structure called an enthymeme. Its
  persuasiveness depends on an underlying
  assumption or belief that the audience
  must accept- in this case, that gender
  stereotypes are harmful and should be
  eliminated. If the audience is unwilling to
  supply the missing premise, then the
  argument fails.
Let’s try to identify underlying
 Enthymeme: Rabbits make good pets
  because they are gentle.
 Underlying assumption: Gentle animals
  make good pets.
 Enthymeme: Racial profiling should not be
  used by airport screeners because it
  violates a person’s civil rights.
 Underlying assumption: Civil rights are
  more important than security.
 Such underlying assumptions are called
  warrants. The warrant is the value, belief,
  or principle that the audience has to hold if
  the soundness of the argument is to be
  guaranteed or warranted.
 The supporting evidence that causes an
  audience to accept your reason is called the
  grounds (facts, data, statistics, causal links,
  testimony, examples, anecdotes).
Claim: I should be exempted from the
  algebra requirement
Reason: because in my chosen field of
  law I will have no need for algebra
Grounds: testimony from lawyers and
  others that lawyers never use algebra
Warrant: General education requirements
  should be based on career utility
Audience based reasons
 Which of the two reasons would be more
  persuasive to the audience?
Audience: young people ages 15-25
  a. You should become a vegetarian because
  an all vegetable diet will help you lower
  your cholesterol.
  b. You should become a vegetarian because
  doing so will help eliminate the suffering of
  animals raised in factory farms.
 Quiz
 Rhetorical devices
 Letter to the Editor assignment

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