convincing readers of the soundness of a particular opinion on a controversial issue using clear thinking and logic; incorporates all other modes of writing, including description, narration, exposition, analysis, reporting
utilizes emotional language and dramatic appeals to readers' concerns, beliefs, and values in order to convince the reader and urge him/her to commit to a course of action
soundness of argument: facts, statistics, examples, authoritative statements; must be unified, specific, adequate, accurate, and representative
crucial with a hostile audience
emotional power of language; appeals to readers' needs, values, and attitudes, encouraging them to commit themselves to a viewpoint or course of action; relies on connotative language
use primarily with a supportive audience
thesis or proposition of an argumentative paper
can support, oppose, or qualify; should be debatable and narrow
statements that require support
claim of opinion
judgment based on facts and arguable on the basis of facts
The school needs a new chemistry lab to replace the existing outdated lab.
claim of fact
potentially verifiable and thus not arguable
The cost of medical care is rising.
claim of belief
while seemingly arguable, is not based on fact and so cannot be contested on the basis of facts
The primary goal of government should be to provide equality of opportunity for all.
must relate to readers' needs, values, and experience; must be unified, adequate, specific, accurate, and representative
personal observation or experience; statistics; facts, examples; expert opinion; appeals
an opinion, a principle, or a belief that ties evidence to claims: the assumption explains why a particular piece of evidence is relevant to a particular claim assumptions are not flaws, but necessities; however, if your audience does not share your assumptions, it will be harder to convince them of your claims
claim: The school needs a new chemistry lab. evidence (in part): testimony of the teachers assumption: teachers are the most capable of evaluating the present lab's quality
those who hold an opposing viewpoint; you should respectfully acknowledge your opposition and their counter-claims, make concessions when appropriate, and refute their counter-claims when possible
- inference of generalization based on specific evidence; in inductive reasoning, you present your case and then form a conclusion based on the evidence
- specific to general
Analyze advertisements in newspapers and magazines (evidence).
Read comments by advertisers, publishers, and critics (more evidence).
For a conclusion about print advertising (generalization/claim).
- begin with a premise/assumption (generalization, belief, or principle), provide evidence or new information, then draw a conclusion
- general to specific then back to general
Premise: The administration should not raise fees on dorm rooms in poor condition. (generalization)
Premise: The room in Polk Hall are in poor condition. (evidence)
Conclusion: The administration should not raise feels on the rooms in Polk Hall. (claim)
- logical equation used in deductive reasoning
- syllogistic errors can lead to faulty conclusions, which are the basis for many logical fallacies (see list 9 terms)
see above (deduction)
premises must be true in order for the conclusion to be true
state claim; provide evidence (weakest to strongest); anticipate and refute counter-claims; conclude
standard deductive structure
- Three parts of an argument:
- Claim - thesis, proposition, or conclusion
- Data - evidence
- Warrant - underlying assumption that justifies moving from evidence to claim
Readers are more apt to consider your argument valid if they know what your warrant is.
Implicit warrant can be sufficient.
Encourages qualifying the claim--explain under what circumstances it might be invalid or restricted.
- goal is to reduce conflict rather than produce a "winner' and "loser"
- use a respectful, conciliatory posture and empathetic tone
- emphasize share interests and values / common ground
- Begin by making a conscientious effort to understand the viewpoints with whom you disagree; put yourself in theirs shoes and focus on what they believe and why they believe it
- Open your essay with an unbiased, even-handed restatement of opposing points of view (shows you're fair and open-minded).
- When appropriate, acknowldege the validity of some of the arguments raised by those with differing views.
- Point out the areas of common ground.
- Finally, present evidence for your position.
Prevents alienation of opposition
works towards compromise
earlier you acknowledge opposition, the more effective your argument will be
use complex sentences that open with subordinate clauses (acknowledging opposition's opinion) followed by a main clause (stating your opinion)
use balanced sentences
(see Longman, 547-550 for complete explanation)
errors in argument, which either evade the issue or treat the argument as if it were much simpler than it is
begging the question
treating an opinion that is open to question as if it were already proved or disproved
The college library's expenses should be reduced by cutting subscriptions to useless periodicals. [Begged questions: Are some of the library's periodicals useless? useless to whom?]
non sequitur (Latin: "It does not follow.")
linking two or more ideas that in fact have no logical connection
If high school English were easier, fewer students would have trouble with the college English requirement. [Presumably, if high school English were easier, students would have more trouble.]
introducing an irrelevant issue intended to distract readers from the relevant issues
A campus speech code is essential to protect students, who already have enough problems with rising tuition. [Tuition costs and speech codes are different subjects.]
pathos (appeal to fear or pity)
substituting emotions for reasoning
She should not have to pay taxes because she is an aged widow with no friend or relatives. [Appeals to people's pity. Should age and loneliness, rather than income, determine a person's tax obligation?]
inviting readers to accept a claim because everyone else does
As everyone knows, marijuana leads to heroin addiction. [What is the evidence?]
ad hominem (Latin: "to the man")
attacking the qualities of the people holding the opposing view rather than the substance of the view itself
One of the scientists has been treated for emotional problems, so his pessimism about nuclear waste merits no attention. [Do the scientist's previous emotional problems invalidate his current views?]
making a claim on the basis of inadequate evidence
It is disturbing that several of the youths who shot up schools were users of violent video games. Obviously, these games can breed violence, and they should be banned. [A few cases do not establish the relation between the games and violent behavior. Most youths who play violent video games do not behave violently.]
making an insupportable statement; these are often absolute statements involving words such as all, always, never, and no one that allow no exceptions; can also be stereotypes
People who live in cities are unfriendly.
Californians are fad-crazy.
Women are emotional.
Men can't express their feelings.
oversimplifying the relation between cause and effect
Proverty causes crime. [If so, then why do people who are not poor commit crimes? And why aren't all poor people criminals?]
post hoc fallacy (Latin: after this, therefore because of this)
assuming that because A preceded B, then A must have caused B
The town council erred in permitting the adult bookstore to open, for shortly afterward two women were assaulted. [It cannot be assumed without evidence that the women's assailants visited or were influenced by the bookstore.]
assuming that a complicated question has only two answers, one good and one bad, both good or both bad
Either we permit mandatory drug testing in the workplace or productivity will continue to decline. [Productivity is not necessarily dependent on drug testing.]