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Transcript of Argumentation
the Nyack College Writing Center
Problems in Reasoning
Reasoning requires that you sift and weigh your thoughts
like hunting: track down the facts and notice problems
recognizing problems of reasoning can help in two ways: 1.You will be able to spot them when assessing an article 2. You will be able to prevent them in your own writing
Errors of Insufficient Evidence
Oscar Wilde: "Nothing worth knowing can be
also called "hasty generalizing" or "faulty generalizing"
drawing a larger conclusion than the evidence supports
question sweeping statements
Key words to watch out for:
selecting only data that supports your own point of view and ignoring contradictory data
biased, unfair thinking
means that the researcher went looking for evidence that supports his/her side
Hitler wanted what was best for the world. He fostered healthy communication within his troops, and was a Christian who advocated for man becoming the best he could be
"appeal to ignorance"
the writer tells readers something must be true because they can't prove it otherwise
"You can't prove there aren't leprechauns in Ireland, therefore, they must exist."
Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc
"after this, therefore because of this"
Assuming that a later event was caused by an earlier event
temporal sequence is often important in causation, but Post Hoc fails to consider other factors that could play in
does a rooster crowing cause the sun to rise?
Problems of Ambiguity
Ambiguity: unclear, indefinite
Problems of Ambiguity
Begging the Question
Loaded Language and False Analogies
comes from the Latin for "ambiguous"
caused by syntax that can be interpreted in multiple ways
Ex: "We had an officer for dinner"
can occur even when each term in the argument is univocal, if the grammatical construction of the sentence is ambiguous
ex: "a reckless motorist struck and injured a student jogging on campus in his pickup truck"
Also known as circular reasoning
premises in which the truth of the conclusion is claimed or the truth of the conclusion is assumed
In essence, the starting premises are the conclusion
is it unsafe to jog in a pickup truck?
the misleading use of a word or term with more than one meaning or sense
in contrast to Amphibole, this pertains to words (instead of syntax)
"to the man"
criticism of the author behind an idea or statement, rather than the idea or statement itself
name calling or offensive remarks
common to politics and televised political events
Straw Man Argument
to create the illusion of having refuted a proposition by replacing it with a superficially similar yet nonequivalent position
then proceeding to knock this "straw man" down
Can contain quotes out of context or an oversimplified version of the opponent's argument
an irrelevant point or some side issue leading away from the main point in an argument
according to the legend, fleeing prisoners or
slaves used to drag a red herring
across their escape
trails hoping that the
smell would draw
the dogs away.
"you did it too"
accused persons seek to justify their crime by charging that their accusers are "guilty" of the same crime
Plain Folks Appeal vs. Snob Appeal
in Snob Appeal, the speaker associates himself or his concept with qualities of social or intellectual superiority
in Plain Folks Appeal, the speaker presents himself as the Average Joe, someone with similar experience to the listener
"smoking tobacco is like drinking poison"
Not so--often tobacco can lead to causes of death, but drinking cyanide will kill 100% of the time
exaggerated or overly harsh analogies and language
the Romans kept slaves
we as Westerners today can therefore keep slaves
"Other stores charge more, therefore our outrageous prices aren't so high"