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Writing An Arguementative Essay

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Ian Muriuki

on 5 October 2013

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Transcript of Writing An Arguementative Essay

Writting An Arguementative Essay
What is Argument?
The study of argumentation has two components: truth seeking and persuasion.
• Truth seeking: involves a diligent, open minded and responsible search for the best solution to a problem taking into account all available information and alternative points of view.
• Persuasion: involves making a claim on an issue and justifying it convincingly so that the audience’s initial resistance to your position is overcome and they are moved toward your position.
These two components seem paradoxically at odds: Truth seeking asks us to relax our certainties and be willing to change our views: Persuasion asks us to be certain, to be committed to our claims and get others to change their views.

We can overcome this paradox if we dispel two common but misleading views concerning argument.
The most common view is that an argument is a fight as in “I just had a terrible argument with my wife.” This view of argument promotes fist waving, shouting matches and ridiculing of peoples opposing opinions such as is seen on radio and T.V discussion forums and this tosses out the truth seeking aspects of argument as well as the persuasion aspect because it polarizes people rather than promoting new ways of seeing change.
Another common misleading view is the view of argument as a pro/con debate modeled after high school and college debate matches. Argument can develop critical thinking however it promotes a mindset of one of two extremes: there are either winners or losers. Controvesial issues involve many diverse viewpoints that simply can’t be bundled up into just two categories, reducing them to pros/cons distorts the complexity of the disagreement. Instead of thinking of both sides of the issue we must think of all sides. The debate image gets us asking “who won the debate?” rather than “What is the best solution to the issue of debate?”

Writing a Classical Argument
The need for argument arises when members of a given community express opposing ideas concerning a particular topic. Classical rhetoricians believed that argument is essential to good citizenship. This is because argument presents an opportunity for people of varying opinions to iron out solutions to disputes in a manner that takes all viewpoints into account and can work to avoid the intensification of conflict that could lead to war.

Group Members
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The best image for understanding a debate is neither a fight nor a debate but the deliberations of a committee representing a wide spectrum of the community charged with finding the best solution to a problem. From this perspective argument is both a process and a product.
• Process: As A process argument is an act of inquiry characterized by fact finding, information gathering and consideration of alternative view points.
• Product: As a product it is someones contribution to the conversation at any one moment-a turn taking in a conversation, speech, or written position paper.
The goal of argument as a process is truth seeking and as a product is persuasion.

Understanding Classical Argument
Stages of development: Your Growth as an Arguer
Stage 1: Argument as personal opinion.
At the beginning of instruction in argument, students typically express strong personal opinions but have trouble justifying their opinions with reason and evidence and often create short undeveloped arguments that are circular, laking evidence and an insult to those who agree.
Eg The family shouldn’t have killed the starlings because that is really wrong! I mean that act was disgusting. It makes me sick to think how so many people are just willing to kill something for no reason at all. How are these parents going to teach their children values if they just go out and kill little birds for no good reason?!! This whole family is what’s wrong with America.

Stage 2: Argument structured as claim supported by one or more reasons.
This stage represents a quantum leap in argumentative skill as the writer can now produce a rational plan containing point sentences (the reasons) and particulars (the evidence).
Eg The family’s act constituted cruelty to animals
• Because the starlings were doing minimal harm
• Because other options were available
• Because the way they killed the birds caused needless suffering.
Stage 3: Increased attention to truth seeking.
In stage 3 students become increasingly engaged with the complexity of the issue as they listen to their classmates views, conduct research, and evaluate alternative perspectives and stances. They are often willing to change their positions when they see the power of other arguments.


Stage 4: Ability to articulate the unstated assumtions underlying their arguments.
Each reason in a writers argument is based on an assumption, value, or belief (often unstated) that the audience must accept if the argument is to be persuasive. Often the writer needs to state these assumptions explicitly and support them. At this stage students identify and analyse their own assumptions and those of their intended audiences. Students gain increased skill at accomodationg alternative views through refutation and concession.
Stage 5: Ability to link an argument to the values and beliefs of the intended audience. In this stage students are increasingly able to link their arguments to their audiences values and beliefs and to adapt structure and tone to the resistance level of their audience. Students also appreciate how delayed-thesis arguments or other psychological strategies can be more effective than closed-form arguments when hostile audiences.

Creating an Argument Frame: A claim with reasons.
Somewhere in the writing process you need to create a frame for your argument. This frame includes a clear question that focuses the argument, your claim, and one or more supporting reasons. Often your reasons, stated as because clauses, can be attached to your claim to provide a working thesis statement.
Finding an Arguable issues.
At the heart of every argument is an issue, which we can define as a question that invites more than one reasonable answer and thus leads to perplexity or disagreement. This requirements based on personal tastes, where no shared criteria can be developed (“baseball is more fun than soccer.”) It also excludes purely private questions because issues arise out of disagreements in communities.
Issue questions are often framed as yes or no choices, especially when they appear on ballots or in courtrooms: Should Should gay marriage be legalized? Is prostitution an occupation that should be recognized officially by government? Just as frequently they can be framed openly, inviting many different answers: How can we solve the deteriorating stability of families as an institution? How can we takle the problem of insecurity?
How you frame your question greatly affects the scope and shape of your argument itself.

Stating a Claim
Your claim is the position you want to take on the issue. It i: your brief, one-sentence answer to your issue question:
• The family was not ethically justified in killing the starlings.
• The city should build skateboarding areas with ramps in all city parks.
• The Kenya Government should substantially increase its taxes on petrol.


Articulating Reasons
You will appreciate argument as truth seeking if you find that your clairr evolves as you think more deeply about your issue and listen to alternative views Be willing to rephrase your claim to soften it or refocus it or even to reverse it a; you progress through the writing process.
Your claim, which is the position you take on an issue, needs to be supported by reasons and evidence. A reason (sometimes called a "premise") is a subclaim that supports your main claim. In speaking or writing, a reason is usually linked to the claim with such connecting words as because, therefore, so, consequently, and thus In planning your argument, a powerful strategy for developing reasons is t: harness the grammatical power of the conjunction because; think of your reasons as because clauses attached to your claim. Formulating your reasons in this way allows you to create a thesis statement that breaks your argument into smaller parts, each part devoted to one of the reasons.
Suppose, for example, that you are examining the issue "Should the gov¬ernment legalize hard drugs such as heroin and cocaine?" Here are several different points of view on this issue, each expressed as a claim with because clauses:

ONE VIEW
Cocaine and heroin should be legalized:-
• because legalizing drugs will keep the government out of people's private lives.
• because keeping these drugs illegal has the same negative effects on our society tha alcohol prohibition did in the 1920s.


Another view
Cocaine and heroin should be legalized:-
• because taking drug sales out of the hands of drug dealers would reduce street violence.
• because decriminalization would cut down on prison overcrowding and free police to concentrate on dangerous crime rather than on finding drug dealers.
• because elimination of underworld profits would change the economic structure of the underclass and promote shifts to socially productive jobs and careers.

STILL ANOTHER VIEW
The government should not legalize heroin and cocaine
- because doing so will lead to an increase in drug users and addicts.
- because doing so will send the message that it is okay to use hard drugs.

Although the yes/no framing of this question seems to reduce the issue to a -position debate, many different value systems are at work here. The first pro-legalization argument, libertarian in perspective, values maximum individual dom. The second argument—although it too supports legalization—takes a mmunity perspective valuing the social benefits of eliminating the black market drug-dealing culture. In the same way, individuals could oppose legaliza¬tion for a variety of reasons.

Articulating Underlying Assumptions
So far, we have focused on the frame of an argument as a claim supported with one or more reasons. Shortly, we will proceed to the flesh and muscle of an argu¬ment, which is the evidence you use to support your reasons. But before turning to evidence, we need to look at another crucial part of an argument's frame: its underlying assumptions.

What Do We Mean by an Underlying Assumption?
Every time you link claim with a reason, you make a silent assumption that may need to be articulated and examined. Consider this argument:
The family was justified in killing the starlings because starlings are pests.
To support this argument, the writer would first need to provide evidence that starlings are pests (examples of the damage they do and so forth). But the persuasiveness of the argument rests on the underlying assumption that it is okay to kill pests. If an audience doesn't agree with that assumption, then the argument flounders unless the writer articulates the assumption and defends it. The complete frame of the argument must therefore include the underlying assumption.
Claim: The family was justified in killing the starlings.
Reason: Because starlings are pests.
Underlying assumption: It is ethically justifiable to kill pests.

It is important to examine the underlying assumption that connects any reason to its claim because you must determine whether your audience will accept the assumption. If not, you need to make it explicit and support it. Think of the underlying assumption as a general principle, rule, belief, or value that connects the reason to the claim. It answers your reader's question, "Why, if I accept your reason should I accept your claim?"
Here are a few more examples:
Claim with reason: Women should be allowed to join combat units because the image of women as combat soldiers would help society overcome gender stereotyping.
Underlying assumption: It is good to overcome gender stereotyping.
Claim with reason: The government should not legalize heroin and cocaine because doing so will lead to an increase in drug users.
Underlying assumption: It is bad to increase the number of drug users.
Claim with reason: The family was guilty of cruelty to animals in the star¬ling case because less drastic means of solving the problem were available.
Underlying assumption: A person should choose the least drastic means:: solve a problem.

*Our explanation of argument structure is influenced by the work of philosopher Stephen Toulmin. who viewed argument as a dynamic courtroom drama where opposing attorneys exchange arguments and cross-examinations before a judge and jury. Although we use Toulmin's strategies analyzing an argument structure, we have chosen not to use his specialized terms, which include warrant (the underlying assumption connecting a reason to a claim), grounds (the evidence that supports the claim), backing (the evidence and subarguments that support the warrant), conditions rebuttal (all the ways that skeptics could attack an argument or all the conditions under which the argument wouldn't hold), and finally qualifier (an indication of the strength of the claim). Howe' your instructor may prefer to use these terms and in that case may provide you with more explanation and examples.


Identifying Underlying Assumptions

1. Identify the underlying assumptions in each of the following claims with reasons.
2. Cocaine and heroin should be legalized because legalizing drugs will keep the government out of people's private lives.
3. The government should raise petrol taxes because the higher price would substantially reduce petrol consumption.
4. The government should not raise gasoline taxes because the higher price would place undo hardship on low-income people.
5. The government should not raise petrol taxes because other means of reducing petrol consumption would be more effective.
6. The government is justified in detaining suspected terrorists indefinitely without charging them with a crime because doing so may prevent another terrorist attack.

Using Evidence Effectively
Inside your arguments, each of your reasons (as well as any underlying assumptions that you decide to state explicitly and defend) needs to be supported either by sub arguments or by evidence. By "evidence" we mean facts, examples, sum¬maries of research articles, statistics, testimony, or other relevant data that will persuade your readers to accept your reasons. Note that evidence always exists within a rhetorical context; as a writer you select and shape the evidence that will best support your position, knowing that skeptics may point to evidence that you did not select. Evidence is thus not the same as "proof"; used ethically, evidence presents the best case for your claim without purporting to be the whole truth.
Evidence can sometimes come from personal experience, but in most cases it comes from your own field or library research. The kinds of evidence most often used in argument are the following:

Factual Data Factual data can provide persuasive support for your arguments. (Keep in mind that writers always select their facts through an angle of vision, so the use of facts doesn't preclude skeptics from bringing in counterfacts.) Here is how evolutionary biologist Olivia Judson used factual data to support her point that malaria-carrying mosquitoes cause unacceptable harm to human lives and wealth.
Each year, malaria kills at least one million people and causes more than 300 million cases of acute illness. For children worldwide, it's one of the leading causes of death. The economic burden is significant too: malaria costs Africa more than $12 billion in lost growth each year. In the United States, hundreds of millions of dollars are spent every year on mosquito control.
Examples An example from personal experience can often be used to support a reason. Here is how student writer Ross Taylor used personal experience to argue that paintball is safe even though accidents can happen. (You can read his com¬plete essay on pp. 359.

I admit that paintball can be dangerous and that accidents do happen. I personally had a friend lose an eye after inadvertently shooting himself in the eye from a very close range. The fact of the matter is that he made a mistake by looking down the barrel of a loaded gun and the trigger malfunctioned. Had he been more careful or worn the proper equipment, he most likely would have beer fine. During my first organized paintball experience I was hit in the goggles by a very powerful gun and felt no pain. The only discomfort came from having to clean all the paint off my goggles after the game. When played properly, paintball is an incredibly safe sport.
Besides specific examples like this, writers sometimes invent hypothetical examples, or scenarios, to illustrate an issue or hypothesize about the consequence of an event. (Of course, you must tell your reader that the example or scenario hypothetical.)

S

summaries of Research Another common way to support an argument is summarize research articles. Here is how a student writer, investigating whet] menopausal women should use hormone replacement therapy to com menopausal symptoms, used one of several research articles in her paper. 1 student began by summarizing research studies showing possible dangers hormone replacement therapy. She then made the following argument:
Another reason not to use hormone replacement therapy is that other means are available to ease menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, irritability, mood changes, and sleep disturbance. One possible alternative treatment is acupuncture. One study (Cohen, Rousseau, and Carey) revealed that a randomly selected group of menopausal women receiving specially designed acupuncture treatment showec substantial decreases in menopausal symptoms as compared to a control group. What was particularly persuasive about this study was that both the experimental group and the control group received acupuncture, but the needle insertion sites f the experimental group were specifically targeted to relieve menopausal symptom whereas the control group received acupuncture at sites used to promote general well-being. The researchers concluded that "acupuncture may be recommended a: safe and effective therapy for reducing menopausal hot flushes as well as contribu to the reduction in sleep disruptions" (299).*

Statistics Another common form of evidence is statistics. Here is how one w used statistics to argue that the federal government should raise fuel-effici standards placed on auto manufacturers:
There is very little need for most Americans to drive huge SUVs. One recent survey found that 87 percent of four-wheel-drive SUV owners had never taken their SUVs off-road (Yacobucci). ... By raising fuel-efficiency standards, the government would force vehicle manufacturers to find a way to create more earth-friendly vehicles that would lower vehicle emissions and pollution.
Testimony Writers can also use expert testimony to bolster a case. The following passage from a student essay arguing in favor of therapeutic cloning uses 1 testimony from a prominent physician and medical researcher. Part of the para¬graph quotes this expert directly; another part paraphrases the expert's argument.

As Dr. Gerald Fischbach, Executive Vice President for Health and Biomedical Sciences and Dean of Medicine at Columbia University, said in front of a United States Senate subcommittee: "New embryonic stem cell procedures could be vital in solving the persistent problem of a lack of genetically matched, qualified donors of organs and tissues that we face today." Fischbach goes on to say that this type of cloning could also lead to the discovery of cures for diseases such as ALS, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and possibly others.

Rather than provide direct research evidence that stem cell cloning might one day lead to cures for diseases, the writer draws on testimony from the dean of a prestigious medical school. Opponents of stem cell research might draw on other experts, selecting those who are skeptical of this claim.

Sub-Arguments Sometimes writers support reasons not directly through data but through sequences of subarguments. Sometimes these subarguments develop a persuasive analogy, hypothesize about consequences, or simply advance the argument through a chain of connected points. In the following passage, taken from a philosophic article justifying torture under certain conditions, the author uses a subargument to support one of his main points—that a terrorist holding victims hostage has no "rights":
There is an important difference between terrorists and their victims that should mute talk of the terrorist's "rights." The terrorist's victims are at risk unintentionally, not having asked to be endangered. But the terrorist knowingly initiated his actions. Unlike his victims, he volunteered for the risks of his deed. By threatening to kill for profit or idealism, he renounces civilized standards, and he can have no complaint if civilization tries to thwart him by whatever means necessary.

Rather than using direct empirical evidence, the author supports his point with a subargument showing how terrorists differ from victims and thus relinquish their claim to rights.
Evaluating Evidence: The STAR Criteria
To make your arguments as persuasive as possible, apply to your evidence what rhetorician Richard Fulkerson calls the STAR criteria (Sufficiency, Typicality, Accuracy, and Relevance),* as shown in the chart on this page.
It is often difficult to create arguments in which all your evidence fully meets the STAR criteria. Sometimes you need to proceed on evidence that might not be typical, verifiable, or as up-to-date as you would like. In such cases, you can often increase the effectiveness of your argument by qualifying your claim. Consider the difference between these two claims:
Strong claim: Watching violent TV cartoons increases aggressive play behavior in boys.
Qualified claim: Watching violent TV cartoons can increase aggressive play behavior in some boys.

To be made persuasive, the strong claim requires substantial evidence meeting the STAR criteria. In contrast, the qualified claim requires less rigorous evidence, per¬haps only an example or two combined with the results of one study.

STAR Criteria Implied Question Comments
Sufficiency Is there enough evidence? If you don't provide enough evidence, skeptical audiences can dismiss your claim as a "hasty generalization." To argue that marijuana is not a harmful drug, you would probably need more evidence than the results of one study or the testimony of a healthy pot smoker.
Typicality
Are the chosen data representative and typical?
If you choose extreme or rare-case examples, rather than typical and representative ones, your audi¬ence might accuse you of cherry-picking your data. Testimony from persons whose back pain was cured by yoga may not support the general claim that yoga is good for back pain.

Accuracy
Are the data accurate and up-to-date?
Providing recent, accurate data is essential for your own ethos as a writer. Data from 1998 on homeless-ness or inaccurately gathered data may be ineffec¬tive for a current policy argument.

Relevance
Are the data relevant to the claim?
Even though your evidence is accurate, up-to-date, and representative, if it's not pertinent to the claim it will be ineffective. For example, evidence that nu clear waste is dangerous is not relevant to the issue of whether it can be stored securely in Yucca Mountain.


'Richard Fulkerson, Teaching the Argument in Writing, Urbana: National Council of Teachers of English, 1996, pp. 44-53. In this section we are indebted to Fulkerson's discussion.

As you gather evidence, consider also its source and the extent to which your audience will trust that source. While all data must be interpreted and hence are never completely impartial, careful readers are aware of how easily data can be skewed. Newspapers, magazines, blogs, and journals often have political biases and different levels of respectability. Generally, evidence from peer-reviewed scholarly journals is more highly regarded than evidence from secondhand sources. Particularly problematic is information gathered from Internet Web sites, which can vary widely in reliability and degree of bias.

Addressing Objections and Counterarguments

Having looked at the frame of an argument (claim, reasons, and underlying assumptions) and at the kinds of evidence used to flesh out the frame, let's turn now to the important concern of anticipating and responding to objections and counter¬arguments. In this section, we show you an extended example of a student's anticipating and responding to a reader's objection. We then describe a planning schema that can help you anticipate objections and show you how to respond to counterarguments, either through refutation or concession. Finally, we show how your active imagining of alternative views can lead you to qualify your claim.

Anticipating Objections: An Extended Example In our earlier discussions of the starling case, we saw how readers might object to the argument "The fam¬ily was justified in killing the starlings because starlings are pests." What rankles these readers is the underlying assumption that it is okay to kill pests. Imagine an objecting reader saying something like this:
It is not okay to get annoyed with a living creature, label it a "pest," and then kill it. This whole use of the term pest suggests that humans have the right to domi¬nate nature. We need to have more reverence for nature. The ease with which the family solved their problem by killing living things sets a bad example for children. The family could have waited until fall and then fixed the screen.
Imagining such an objection might lead a writer to modify his or her claim. But if the writer remains committed to that claim, then he or she must develop a response. In the following example in which a student writer argues that it is okay to kill the starlings, note (1) how the writer uses evidence to show that starlings are pests; (2) how he summarizes a possible objection to his underlying assumption that killing pests is morally justified; and (3) how he supports his assumption with further arguments.

STUDENT ARGUMENT DEFENDING REASON AND UNDERLYING ASSUMPTION
The family was justified in killing the starlings because starlings are pests. Starlings are non - indigenous birds that drive out native species and multiply rapidly. When I searched "starlings pests" on Google, I discovered thousands of Web sites dealing with starlings as pests. Starlings are hated by farmers and gardeners because huge flocks of them devour newly planted seeds in spring as well as fruits and berries at harvest. A flock of starlings can devastate a cherry orchard in a few days. As inva¬sive nesters, starlings can also damage attics by tearing up insulation and defecating on stored items. Many of the Web site articles focused on ways to kill off starling populations. In killing the starlings, the family was protecting its own property and reducing the population of these pests.

Many readers might object to my argument, saying that humans should have a reverence for nature and not quickly try to kill off any creature they label a pest. Further, these readers might say that even if starlings are pests, the family could have waited until fall to repair the attic or found some other means of protecting their property without having to kill the baby starlings. I too would have waited until fall if the birds in the attic had been swallows or some other native species without starlings' destructiveness and propensity for unchecked population growth. But starlings should be compared to rats or mice. We set traps for rodents because we know the damage they cause when they nest in walls and attics. We don't get sentimental trying to save the orphaned rat babies. In the same way, we are justified in eliminating starlings as soon as they begin infesting our houses.
In the preceding example, we see how the writer uses evidence to support his reason and then, anticipating readers' objection to his underlying assumption, summarizes that objection and provides a response to it. One might not be convinced by the argument, but the writer has done a good job of trying to support both his reason (starlings are pests) and his underlying assumption (it is morally justifiable to kill at least some pests).

Using a Planning Schema to Anticipate Objections
In the previous example, the student's arguing strategy was triggered by his anticipation of reader objections. Note that a skeptical audience can attack an argument by attacking either a writer's reasons or a writer's underlying assumptions. This knowledge allows us to create a planning schema that can help writers develop a persuasive argument. This schema encourages writers to articulate their argument frame (claim, reason, and underlying assumption) and then to imagine what kinds of evidence or arguments could be used to support both the reason and the underly¬ing assumption. Equally important, the schema encourages writers to anticipate counterarguments by imagining how skeptical readers might object to the writer's reason or underlying assumption or both. To create the schema, simply make a chart with slots for each of these elements. Here is how another student writer used this schema to plan an argument on the starling case:

CLAIM WITH REASON

The family showed cruelty to animals because the way they killed the birds caused needless suffering.

UNDERLYING ASSUMPTION
If it is necessary to kill an animal, then the killing should be done in the least painful way possible.

EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT REASON
First I've got to show how the way of killing the birds (starving them slowly) caused the birds to suffer. I've also got to show that this way of killing was needless since other means were available such as calling an exterminator who would remove the birds and either relocate them or kill them painlessly. If no other alternative was available, someone should have crawled into the attic and found a painless way to kill the birds.

EVIDENCE/ARGUMENTS TO SUPPORT UNDERLYING ASSUMPTIONS
I've got to convince readers it is wrong to make an animal suffer if you don't have to. Humans have a natural antipathy to needless suffering—our feeling of un¬ease if we imagine cattle or chickens caused to suffer for our food rather than being cleanly and quickly killed. If a horse is incurably wounded, we put it to sleep rather then let it suffer. We are morally obligated to cause the least pain possible.


WAYS SKEPTICS MIGHT OBJECT
How could a reader object to my reason? A reader might say that the starlings didn't suffer much (baby birds don't feel pain). A reader might also object to my claim that other means were available: They might say there was no other way to kill the star¬lings. Poison may cause just as much suffering. Cost of exterminator is prohibitive.
How could a reader object to my underlying assumption? Perhaps the reader would say that my rule to cause the least pain possible does not apply to animal pests. In class, someone said that we shouldn't worry about the baby starlings any more than we would worry about killing baby rats. Laws of nature condemn millions of animals each year to death by starvation or by being eaten alive by other animals. Humans occasionally have to take their place within this tooth-and-claw natural system.

How many of the ideas from this schema would the writer use in her actual paper? That is a judgment call based on the writer's analysis of the audience. If this student's target audience includes classmates who think it is morally okay to kill pests by the most efficient means possible, then she should summarize her classmates' argument fairly and then try to convince them that humans are ethi¬cally called to rise above tooth-and-claw nature.

Creating Argument Schemas
Working individually or in small groups, create a planning schema for the following arguments. For each claim with reason: (a) imagine the kinds of evidence needed to support the reason; (b) identify the underlying assump-tion; (c) imagine a strategy for supporting the assumption; and (d) anticipate possible objections to the reason and to the assumption.
1. Claim with reason: We should buy a hybrid car rather than an SUV with a HEMI engine because doing so will help the world save gasoline. (Imagine this argument aimed at your significant other, who has his or her heart set on a huge HEMI-powered SUV.)
2. Claim with reason: Gay marriage should be legalized because doing so will promote faithful, monogamous relationships among lesbians and gay men. (Aim this argument at supporters of traditional marriage.)
3. Claim with reason: The war in Iraq was justified because it rid the world of a hideous and brutal dictator. (Aim this argument at a critic of the war.)

Responding to Objections, Counterarguments, and Alternative Views
We have seen how a writer needs to anticipate alternative views that give rise to objections and counterarguments. Surprisingly, one of the best ways to approach counterarguments is to summarize them fairly. Make your imagined reader's best case against your argument. By resisting the temptation to distort a counterargu¬ment, you demonstrate a willingness to consider the issue from all sides. Moreover, summarizing a counterargument reduces your reader's tendency to say, "Yes, but have you thought of ... ?" After you have summarized an objection or counterargument fairly and charitably, you must then decide how to respond to it. Your two main choices are to rebut it or concede to it.

Rebutting Opposing Views
When rebutting or refuting an argument, you can question the argument's reasons and supporting evidence or the underlying assumptions or both. In the following student example, the writer summarizes her classmates' objections to abstract art and then analyzes shortcomings in their argument.
Some of my classmates object to abstract art because it apparently takes no technical drawing talent. They feel that historically artists turned to abstract art because they lacked the technical drafting skills exhibited by Remington, Russell, and Rockwell. Therefore these abstract artists created an art form that anyone was capable of and that was less time consuming, and then they paraded it as artistic progress. But I object to the notion that these artists turned to abstraction because they could not do representative drawing. Many abstract artists, such as Picasso, were excellent draftsmen, and their early pieces show very realistic drawing skill. As his work matured, Picasso became more abstract in order to increase the expressive quality of his work. Guernica was meant as a protest against the bombing of that city by the Germans. To express the terror and suffering of the victims more vividly, he distorted the figures and presented them in a black and white journalistic manner. If he had used representational images and color—which he had the skill to do—much of the emotional content would have been lost and the piece probably would not have caused the demand for justice that it did.

Conceding to Opposing Views
In some cases, an alternative view can be very strong. If so, don't hide that view from your readers; summarize it and concede to it.
Making concessions to opposing views is not necessarily a sign of weakness; in many cases, a concession simply acknowledges that the issue is complex and that your position is tentative. In turn, a concession can enhance a reader's respect for you and invite the reader to follow your example and weigh the strengths of your own argument charitably. Writers typically concede to opposing views with transitional expressions such as the following:

admittedly I must admit that I agree that granted
even though I concede that while it is true that
After conceding to an opposing view, you should shift to a different field of values where your position is strong and then argue for those new values. For example, adversaries of drug legalization argue plausibly that legalizing drugs would increase the number of users and addicts. If you support legalization, here is how you might deal with this point without fatally damaging your own argument:
Opponents of legalization claim—and rightly so—that legalization will lead to an increase in drug users and addicts. I wish this weren't so, but it is. Nevertheless, the other benefits of legalizing drugs—eliminating the black market, reducing street crime, and freeing up thousands of police from fighting the war on drugs—more than outweigh the social costs of increased drug use and addiction, especially if tax revenues from drug sales are plowed back into drug education and rehabilitation programs.
The writer concedes that legalization will increase addiction (one reason for opposing legalization) and that drug addiction is bad (the underlying assumption for that reason). But then the writer redeems the case for legalization by shifting the argument to another field of values (the benefits of eliminating the black market, reducing crime, and so forth).

Qualifying Your Claim
The need to summarize and respond to alternative views lets the writer see an issue's complexity and appreciate that no one position has a total monopoly on the truth. Consequently, writers often need to qualify their claims—that is, limit the scope or force of a claim to make it less sweeping and therefore less vulnerable. Consider the difference between the sentences "After-school jobs are bad for teenagers" and "After-school jobs are often bad for teenagers." The first claim can be refuted by one counterexample of a teenager who benefited from an after-school job. Because the second claim admits excep¬tions, it is much harder to refute. Unless your argument is airtight, you will want to limit your claim with qualifiers such as the following:
perhaps maybe
in many cases generally
tentatively sometimes
often usually
probably likely
may or might (rather than is)
You can also qualify a claim with an opening unless clause ("Unless your apart¬ment is well soundproofed, you should not buy such a powerful stereo system").
Qualifying Your Claim
The need to summarize and respond to alternative views lets the writer see an issue's complexity and appreciate that no one position has a total monopoly on the truth. Consequently, writers often need to qualify their claims—that is, limit the scope or force of a claim to make it less sweeping and therefore less vulnerable. Consider the difference between the sentences "After-school jobs are bad for teenagers" and "After-school jobs are often bad for teenagers." The first claim can be refuted by one counterexample of a teenager who benefited from an after-school job. Because the second claim admits excep¬tions, it is much harder to refute. Unless your argument is airtight, you will want to limit your claim with qualifiers such as the following:
perhaps maybe
in many cases generally
tentatively sometimes
often usually
probably likely
may or might (rather than is)
You can also qualify a claim with an opening unless clause ("Unless your apart¬ment is well soundproofed, you should not buy such a powerful stereo system").

Seeking Audience-Based Reasons
Much of the advice that we have presented so far can be consolidated into a single principle: Seek "audience-based reasons." By audience-based reasons, we mean reasons that depend on underlying assumptions, values, or beliefs that your targeted audience already holds. In such cases, you won't need to state and defend your underlying assumptions because the audience already accepts them. A good illustration comes from civil engineer David Rockwood's argument against wind power that we used in Chapter 1 (pp. 6-7). Rockwood's targeted readers are environmentalists who have high hopes for wind-generated electric¬ity. Rockwood's final reason opposing wind power is that constructing thousands of wind towers will damage the pristine mountain environment. To environmen¬talists, this reason is powerful because its underlying assumption ("Preserving the environment is good") appeals to their values.

When you plan your argument, seek audience-based reasons whenever possi¬ble. Suppose, for example, that you are advocating the legalization of heroin and cocaine. If you know that your audience is concerned about street crime, then you can argue that legalization of drugs will make the streets safer.
We should legalize drugs because doing so will make Audience-based reason:
our streets safer: It will cut down radically on street Underlying assumption is that making
criminals seeking drug money, and it will free up our streets safer is a good thing—a value
narcotics police to focus on other kinds of crime. the audience already holds.

For another group of readers—those concerned about improving the quality of life for youths in inner cities—you might argue that legalization of drugs will lead to better lives for people in poor neighborhoods.

We should legalize drugs because doing so will Audience-based reason:
improve the lives of inner-city youth by eliminating Its underlying assumption is that it is
the lure of drug trafficking that tempts so many good to improve the lives of inner-city inner-city youth into crime. youth.
Or if your audience is concerned about high taxes and government debt, you might say:

We should legalize drugs because doing so will help Audience-based reason:
us balance federal and state budgets: It will decrease Assumes that it is a good thing to balance
police and prison costs by decriminalizing federal and state budgets.
narcotics; and it will eliminate the black market in
drugs, allowing us to collect taxes on drug sales.

In contrast, if you oppose legalizing drugs, you could appeal to those con¬cerned about drug addiction and public health by using the following audience-based reason:

We should not legalize drugs because doing so will Audience-based reason:
increase the number of drug addicts and make drug Appeals to the underlying assumption
use seem socially acceptable. that increasing the number of drug
addicts and making drugs socially acceptable are bad things.

In each case, you move people toward your position by connecting your argu¬ment to their beliefs and values.


Appealing to Ethos and Pathos
When the classical rhetoricians examined ways that orators could persuade listen¬ers, they focused on three kinds of proofs: logos, the appeal to reason; ethos, the appeal to the speaker's character; and pathos, the appeal to the emotions and the sympathetic imagination. We introduced you to these appeals in Chapter 3, Concept 9, because they are important rhetorical considerations in any kind of writing. Understanding how arguments persuade through logos, ethos, and pathos is particularly helpful when your aim is persuasion. So far in this chapter we have focused on logos. In this section we examine ethos and pathos.

Appeals to Ethos A powerful way to increase the persuasiveness of an argument is to gain your readers' trust. You appeal to ethos whenever you present yourself as credible and trustworthy For most readers to accept your argument, they must perceive you as knowledgeable, trustworthy, and fair. In the following chart, we suggest ways to enhance your argument's ethos:

Strategic for enhancing your argument’s ethos

Be knowledgeable by doing your homework Your credibility is enhanced when readers are convinced that you know your subject thoroughly
Use evidence responsibly. If you cherry-pick your evidence, you may be perceived as a propagandist rather than as a thoughtful arguer who recognizes complexity.
Be fair to alternative views. If you scorn or misrepresent opposing views, you will win favor only with those who already agree with you. If you are a good listener to others, they will be more apt to listen to you.
Search for values and assumptions you can share with your audience You will build bridges toward skeptical readers, rather than alienate them, if you can highlight shared assumptions or values. Use audience-based reasons where possible.
Show that you care about your issue; show also why your readers should care about it. By showing why the issue matters both to you and your readers, you portray yourself as a person’s integrity rather than as someone playing an argumentative game.


Appeals to Pathos Besides appealing to logos and ethos, you might also appeal to what the Greeks called pathos. Sometimes pathos is interpreted narrowly as an appeal to the emotions and is therefore devalued on the grounds that arguments should be rational rather than emotional. Although appeals to pathos can some¬times be irrational and irrelevant ("If you don't give me at least a B in this course, I will lose my scholarship and break my ill grandmother's heart"), they can also arouse audience interest and deepen understanding of an argument's human dimensions. The following chart suggests ways to increase pathos in your arguments:

Strategies for Enhancing Your Argument's Pathos
What to Do Explanation Example
Include storylike anecdotes.
Specific stories often create more emotional appeal than abstract statistics or generalizations. In promoting health care reform, President Obama often told stories of persons made bankrupt by an illness or deprived of care because of a pre¬existing condition. On many occa¬sions, he spoke of his own mother's fight with insurance companies as she lay dying of cancer.
Choose words with emotional or values-laden connotations. Connotations of words often carry heavy emotional impact. Opponents of health care reform talked about the Democrats' bill as "being jammed down people's throats"; supporters used words like "safety net," "compassion," or "care for children in poverty."
Where appropriate, use vivid language low on the ladder of abstraction. Specific words paint pictures that have emotional appeal. "The homeless man is huddled over the sewer grate, his feet wrapped in newspapers. He blows on his hands, then tucks them under his armpits and lies down on the sidewalk with his shoulders over the grate, his bed for the night." [creates sympathy for the homeless]"'Several ratty derelicts drinking wine from a shared sack caused shoppers to avoid going into the store." [creates sympathy for shoppers rather than the homeless]
If the genre permits, include visuals with emotional impact.

Photographs or other visuals, including dramatic graphs or charts, can have a strong emotional appeal. Articles promoting the environment often include photographs of smoke-belching factories or of endangered animals (often emphasizing their beauty or cuteness); often charts can have emotional appeals—such as a graph portraying dramatic increases in coal-fired electricity plants.

A Brief Primer on Informal Fallacies
We'll conclude our explanation of classical argument with a brief overview of the most common informal fallacies. Informal fallacies are instances of murky rea¬soning that can cloud an argument and lead to unsound conclusions. Because they can crop up unintentionally in anyone's writing, and because advertisers and hucksters often use them intentionally to deceive, it is a good idea to learn to recognize the more common fallacies.

Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc ("After This, Therefore Because of This")
This fallacy involves mistaking sequence for cause. Just because one event happens before another event doesn't mean the first event caused the second. The connec¬tion may be coincidental, or some unknown third event may have caused both of these events.

Example When the New York police department changed its policing tactics in the early 1990s, the crime rate plummeted. But did the new police tactics cause the decline in crime? (Many experts attributed the decline to other causes.) Persons lauding the police tactics ("Crime declined because the NYPD adopted new tactics") were accused of the post hoc fallacy.

Hasty Generalization Closely related to the posf hoc fallacy is the hasty gener¬alization, which refers to claims based on insufficient or unrepresentative data. Generally, persuasive evidence should meet the STAR criteria that we explained on page 342. Because the amount of evidence needed in a given case can vary with the audience's degree of skepticism, it is difficult to draw an exact line between hasty and justified generalizations.
Example The news frequently carries stories about vicious pit bulls. Therefore all pit bills must be vicious, [or] This experimental drug has been demonstrated safe in numerous clinical trials [based on tests using adult subjects]. Therefore this drug is safe for children.
False Analogy Arguers often use analogies to support a claim. (We shouldn't go to war in Iraq because doing so will lead us into a Vietnam-like quagmire.) However, analogical arguments are tricky because there are usually significant differences between the two things being compared as well as similarities. (Supporters of the war in Iraq argued that the situation in Iraq in 2002 was very different from that in Vietnam in 1964.) Although it is hard to draw an exact line between a false analogy and an acceptable one, charges of false anal¬ogy are frequent when skeptical opponents try to refute arguments based on analogies.

Example Gun control will work in the United States because it works in England. [or] It's a mistake to force little Johnnie to take piano lessons because you can't turn a reluctant child into a musician any more than you can turn a tulip into a rose.



Thank you for staying with us. Hoping you enjoyed. **)
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