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Classical Argument, Claims & Reasons

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Stephanie Williams

on 26 January 2015

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Transcript of Classical Argument, Claims & Reasons

Classical Argument, Claims & Reasons
Models of Argumentation
Classical Argument (Aristotelean, the "original")

*All use similar terminology, namely claims, reasons and the appeals
Classical Model of Argumentation
Classical Structure of an Argument
Writer's position = claim based on reason(s) supported by evidence (
our definition of argument
Alternative views = summary and critique of opposing claims

*See recommended organizational structure on p59.
Classical Appeals and Rhetorical Triangle
The appeals are labels, names for ways to be effectively persuasive.
"Claims" need "Issues"
Before you can pick a side about something, i.e., before you can make a claim, there must be an "issue," meaning you need a topic that has at least two sides.
Not all topics have two or more sides and, sometimes, the way a topic is presented is not meant to encourage "side-taking."
Issue questions = are argumentative topics, set out to change the reader's mind
Information questions = are explicative topics, set out to inform or explain
You need to know the difference to be able to evaluate the relationship to audience and purpose (the rhetorical situation).
Information Questions vs Issue Questions p63
1. Issue (most likely) = the concept “failing” open for interpretation and definition. If the arguer and audience had previously agreed on a straightforward definition of what it means for a school to fail and a research instrument to gain numerical data, then this question could become an information question.
2. Information = because scientists can study and compare the addictive chemicals and qualities of the two drugs.
3. Issue (most likely) = because it is positing a strong, single cause-effect relationship that is debatable. If any definitive research studies could come up with clear evidence or if a number of studies agreed, then this would be an information question. If studies disagreed or if an audience found flaws in a study’s research design, then the question would become controversial and hence an issue question.
4. Either = Information: a student could easily consult various authorities—the FDA, a well-known bioethicist, a biologist, etc.—and perhaps get a straight yes or no answer. Issue: it is hotly debated by arguers who could raise serious questions about each researchers’ claims, grounds, warrants, backing, statistical data, and casual projections.
5. Issue = so long as medical controversies are incorrect, poorly correlated, or illogical.
Not All Issues Lead to Rational Arguments
Even though issue questions set out to change a reader's mind, sometimes the argument fails two remaining requirements:
reasonable participants (conventions of behavior)
potentially sharable assumptions (personal opinions or ideologies (belief systems or worldviews))
If these 2 things are absent, argument will fail or be pseudo.
Reasonable (Genuine) Arguments vs Pseudo-Arguments p65
1. Reasonable = Disputants will argue about the criteria for “good” and about whether the Star Wars series meets the criteria.
2. Reasonable = Disputants will need to establish criteria for how they are defining “ethically justifiable” since dolphins are sentient beings.
3. Reasonable = Writer could establish consequences of subsidizing the professional sports venues and argue that the positive consequences do or do not outweigh the negative ones. Disputants might argue about the proper domain of public funds and profit companies.
4. Depends = Although controversy here is apt to degenerate into pseudo-argument, it is possible to establish rational criteria for “true art” and then to argue that a monkey’s painting does or does not meet the criteria.
5. Pseudo = There is probably no way to argue for shared criteria for “attractive,” because such trends as jewelry, hairstyles, and clothing styles are highly subjective.
Framing Your Reasonable (Genuine) Argument
Claim = your position, side, thesis
Reason = your premise, justification (usually linked with because)

*So create a "working thesis" that summarizes your reasons as because clauses to your claim:

working thesis = claim + "because" + reasons
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