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Structuring Arguments

Structuring Arguments

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Structuring Arguments

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  1. Structuring Arguments

  2. Inductive Reasoning Inductive Reasoning – the process of generalizing on the basis of a number of specific examples Ex. I get hives after eating crawdads. My mouth swells when I eat clams. Shrimp triggers my asthma.  I am allergic to shellfish

  3. Deductive Reasoning • Deductive Reasoning – the process of reaching a conclusion by assuming a general principle (called the major premise) and then applying that principle to a specific case (called the minor premise). Ex. I am allergic to shellfish  Lobster is a type of shellfish  Lobster will cause me to have an allergic reaction. This is called a syllogism.

  4. Syllogisms All humans are mortal. Socrates is a human being. Therefore, Socrates is mortal.

  5. Enthymemes Syllogisms that leave out the middle (and obvious) minor premise = Enthymemes • We’d better cancel the picnic because it is going to rain. • I’ll buy a PC laptop instead of a Mac because it’s cheaper.

  6. If you can construct sound inductive or deductive arguments and present them clearly in words or images, you will influence most audience.

  7. The Toulmin Argument • British Philosopher Stephen Toulmin, The Uses of Argument (1958) describes how ordinary people make reasonable arguments. • Because this system acknowledges qualifiers (sometimes, often, unless, almost) it is not as airtight as formal logic – using syllogisms. • But because of that, it has become a practical tool for understanding and shaping arguments in the real world.

  8. Making Claims • Debatable and controversial statements or assertions that you hope to prove. • Arguments depend on conditions set by others – your audience or readers. • Claims that are worth arguing tend to be controversial – there is no point worrying about points on which most people agree. Claims should be debatable, able to be demonstrated using logic or evidence.

  9. Making Claims Many claims are developed through questions: Question: What should NASA’s next goal be? Should the space agency establish a permanent moon base? Should NASA launch more robotic interstellar probes? Can NASA even afford to send people to Mars? Statement: NASA should launch a human expedition to Mars.

  10. Offering Evidence and Good Reasons Claims need evidence and good reasons to support it. Claim: Campus needs more officially designated spaces for parking bicycles. Evidence: • Personal experience: At least twice a week for two terms, I was unable to find a designated space for my bike. • Anecdotes: Several friends told similar stories. One even sold her bike as a result. • Facts: I found out that the ratio of car to bike parking spaces was 100 to 1, whereas the ratio of cars to biker registered on campus was 25 to 1. • Authorities: The campus police chief has indicated in an interview with the college newspaper that she believed a problem existed for students who tried to park bicycles legally.

  11. Determining Warrants The logical and persuasive connection between a claim and the reason and data supporting it. Reason (so) Claim  (since) Warrant The mushroom is poisonousSo don’t eat it!  Sinceeating poison is dangerous

  12. Determining Warrants Continued The warrant tells readers what your often unstated assumptions are. When you state a warrant accurately, you sometimes expose a fatal flaw in an argument. I don’t like grades So grades should be abolished  Since what I don’t like should be abolished

  13. Stating and then examining a warrant can help you determine the grounds on which you want to make a case. Enthymeme: Flat taxes are fairer than progressive taxes because they treat all taxpayers in the same way. Warrants: Treating people equitably is the American way. All people should be treated in the same way. Issues with the warrant: If it is inequitable than why are federal and state income taxes progressive?

  14. Stating and then examining a warrant can help you determine the grounds on which you want to make a case. Enthymeme: Progressive taxes are fairer than flat taxes because people with more income can afford to pay more, benefit more from government, and can shelter more of their income from taxes. Warrants: People should be taxed according to their ability to pay. People who benefit more from government and can shelter more of their income from taxes should be taxed at higher rates.

  15. Offering Evidence: Backing Claims and Warrants = skeleton of an argument The bulk of a writer’s work – the richest, most interesting part- remains to be done after the argument is outlined.

  16. Offering Evidence - Backing • Enthymeme: NASA should launch a human expedition to Mars because Americans need a unifying national goal. • Warrant: What unifies the nation ought to be a national priority. • Backing: On a personal level, Americans want to be part of something bigger than themselves (Emotional appeal as evidence) • In a country as regionally, racially, and culturally diverse as the United States, common purposes and values help make the nation stronger (Ethical appeal as evidence). • In the past, big government investments such as the Tennessee Valley Authority, Hoover Dam, and Apollo moon program enabled many – though not all – Americans to work toward common goals. (Logical appeal)

  17. In addition to evidence to support your warrant (backing), you’ll needevidence to support your claim: Enthymeme: NASA should launch a human expedition to Mars because Americans now need a unifying national goal. Evidence: • The American people are politically divided along lines of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, and class (Facts as evidence). • A common challenge or problem often unites people to accomplish great things (Emotional appeal as evidence) • Successfully managing a Mars mission would require the cooperation of the entire nation – and generate tens of thousands of jobs (Logical appeal as evidence) • A human expedition to Mars would be a valuable scientific project for the nation to pursue (Appeal to values as evidence.)

  18. Using Qualifiers Qualifiers make writing more precise and honest: Few More or less Often It is possible In some cases Perhaps Rarely Many It seems In the main Possibly Some Routinely It may be Most If it were so Sometimes In general One might argue Under these conditions For the most part

  19. Qualifiers Never assume that readers understand the limits you have in mind. By spelling out the terms of the claim as precisely as possible, you’ll have less work to do, and your argument will seem more reasonable. Your ACT scores are So (it is likely) you will in the 98th percentile  get into a good college  High ACT scores are an important factor in college admissions

  20. Qualifiers Unqualified Claim: People who don’t go to college earn less than other who do. Qualified Claim: In most cases, people who don’t go to college earn less than those who do. Unqualified Claim: Welfare programs should be cut. Qualified Claim: Ineffective federal welfare programs should be identified, modified, and if necessary, eliminated.

  21. Understanding Conditions of Rebuttal Claim: The federal government should support the arts. Argument in brief: The federal government should support the arts because it also supports the military. Warrant: If the federal government can support the military, then it can also support other programs. Rebuttal: Just because we support the military we should support anything? Revised Argument: If the federal government can spend huge amounts of money on the military, then it can afford to spend moderate amounts on arts programs.

  22. Outline of the Toulmin Argument Claim: The federal government should ban smoking. Qualifier: The ban would be limited to public spaces. Good Reasons: Smoking causes serious diseases in smokers. Nonsmokers are endangered by secondhand smoke. Warrants: The constitution promises to “promote the general welfare” Citizens are entitles to protection from harmful actions by others

  23. Outline of the Toulmin Argument Backing: The United States is based on a political system that is supposed to serve the basic needs of its people, including their heath. Evidence: Numbers of deaths attributed to secondhand smoke. Lawsuits recently won against large tobacco companies, citing the need to reparation for smoking-related health care costs. Examples of bans already imposed in many public places. Authority: Cite the surgeon general.

  24. Outline of the Toulmin Argument Conditions of Rebuttal: Smokers have rights too. Smoking laws should be left to the states. Such a ban could not be enforced. Response: The ban applies to public places, smokers can smoke in private. The power of the federal government to impose other restrictions on smoking (such as warning labels on cigarettes and bans on cigarette advertisements on television) has survived legal challenges. The experience of New York City, which has imposed such a ban, suggests that enforcement would not be a significant problem.

  25. What Toulmin Teaches • Claims should be stated clearly and qualified carefully. • Claims should be supported with evidence and good reasons. • Claims and reasons should be based on assumptions that readers will likely accept. • Effective arguments respectfully anticipate objections readers might offer.

  26. Classical Oration Structure of argument devised by Greek and Roman rhetoricians 2000 years ago for presenting cases in courts or making speeches to a senate. Still influences our attitudes toward persuasion because oration taught speakers and writers to think of arguments as debates that have winners and losers.

  27. Structure of Classical Oration • Exordium: The speaker/writer tries to win the attention and goodwill of an audience while introducing a subject or problem • Narratio: The speaker/writer presents the facts of the case, explaining what happened when, who is involved, and so on. The narration puts an argument in context. • Partitio: The speaker/writer divides up the subject, explaining what the claim is, what the key issues are, and in what order the subject will be treated.

  28. Structure of Classical Oration continued • Confirmatio: The speaker/writer offers detailed support for the claim, using both logical reasoning and factual evidence. • Refutatio: The speaker/writer acknowledges and then refutes opposing claims or evidence • Peroratio: The speaker/writer summarizes the case and moves the audience to action.

  29. Benefits of Classical Oration • The structure is powerful because it covers all the bases: readers or listeners want to know what your subject is, how you intend to cover it, and what evidence you have to offer. • Begins with presenting a pleasing ethos • Concludes with enough pathos to win an audience over completely

  30. Updated Version of Classical Oration Introduction: • Gains reader’s interest and willingness to listen • Establishes your qualifications to write about your topic • Establishes some common ground with your audience • Demonstrates that you’re fair and evenhanded • States your claim

  31. Updated Version Continued Background • Presents any necessary information, including personal narrative, that’s important to your argument Lines of Argument • Presents good reasons, including logical and emotional appeals, in support of your claim Alternative Arguments • Examines alternative points of view and opposing arguments • Notes the advantages and disadvantages of these views • Explains why your view is better than others

  32. Updated Version continued Conclusion • Summarizes the argument • Elaborates on the implications of your claim • Makes clear what you want the audience to think or do • Reinforces your credibility and perhaps offers and emotional appeal

  33. Example: Declaration of Independence • Exordium – “When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another…” “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…” • Narratio – “He has…” Establishes what King George has done. • Partitio – “The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations.” • Confirmatio – “Long train of abuses and usurpations.” • Refutatio – “We warned them” “We have reminded them” “We have appealed to their native justice” • Peroratio – “That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be FREE and INDEPENDENT STATES:

  34. Rogerian Argument Carl Rogers, psychologist, developed non-confrontational principles of discussion, later applied to public situations. Rogers believed people involved in disputes should not respond to each other until they could fully, fairly, and even sympathetically state the other person’s position.

  35. Rogerian Structure • Introduction: The writer describes an issue, a problem, or a conflict. The description is rich enough to demonstrate that the writer fully understands and respects any alternative position or positions. • Contexts: The writer describes the contexts in which the alternative positions may be valid or legitimate.

  36. Rogerian Structure • Writer’s position: The writer states his or her position on the issue and presents the circumstances in which that opinion would be valid. • Benefits to opponent: The writer explains to opponents how they would benefit from adopting his or her position.

  37. Benefits of Rogerian Argument The key is a willingness to think about opposing positions and to describe them fairly. Example: Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.   “When we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, ‘Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!’”