Fundamentals of Writing April 3, 2014
What is the author trying to argue? How does he/she support his/her point? What kind of evidence is used? Do you think the author presents an effective argument overall?
Today Argumentative writing (continued) - Logical fallacies - opposing arguments + rebuttals
Argument One of the keystones of university learning - Expressing a point of view & supporting it w/evidence - Involves use of research, critical thinking, & logic A good piece of argumentative writing: - Demonstrates your understanding of material - Demonstrates ability to use or apply the material i.e.) critique, apply it to something else, explain it in a different way.
Argument It is something you do on a daily basis - Academic - Non-academic The more you improve your skill in argument, the better you are at: - critical thinking - reasoning - making choices - negotiating - weighing evidence
Argument – a group of statements An argument consists of: - Claim: Drinking water daily is good for your health (i.e., thesis statement) - Support : as it cleans out your liver and reduces the level of toxins in your blood. (i.e., evidence and reasoning throughout an essay) Example: Drinking water daily is good for your health as it cleans out your liver and reduces the level of toxins in your blood.
Argumentative Writing - Example Body paragraph 1: Cake increases study performance. Elementary school students have increasing pressures to do well in school as expectations of what they should learn and how much they should learn change. As a result, elementary school students now study more difficult subjects, such as math, for longer periods of time. By increasing study performance, cake can help students cope with these new demands. First, cake has been proven to increase concentration. A study found that children who eat just one piece of cake per day have 30% better concentration than children who have no cake (Wonka, 2011). An increase in concentration can allow students to cope with increased class demands, especially in more difficult classes, such as math, which require concentration to solve complex problems. Cake also has a positive effect on reaction time. The chemicals in cake improve the function of the reticular formation, allowing cake eaters to more quickly process visual and auditory information (Jones, 2009). Increased reaction times allow students to answer questions faster and to more readily understand explanations and examples. By providing a much needed increase in study performance, cake should clearly be included on the daily menu of elementary school cafeterias.
Reaching Logical Conclusions Example 1 Premise 1: Non-renewable resources do not exist in infinite supply. Premise 2: Coal is a non-renewable resource. Conclusion: ? - Coal does not exist in infinite supply.
Logic – What is it? “A formal system of analysis that helps writers invent, demonstrate, and prove arguments.” (O.W.L.: Para 2) In logic: - Test propositions against each other to determine accuracy. Logic is not simply the absence of emotion in an argument, or “common sense”.
Logic - Syllogism Most famous type of logical sequence. - Developed by Aristotle. Aristotle’s most famous syllogism: Premise 1: All men are mortal.Premise 2: Socrates is a man.Conclusion: Therefore, Socrates is mortal. Premise 2 tested against Premise 1 to reach conclusion. Since both premises are valid, there is no other logical conclusion.
Logic In logic: Argument = The assertion of a conclusion based on logical premises. Premise = Proposition used as evidence in an argument. Conclusion = Logical result of the relationship between the premises
Reaching Logical Conclusions Example 2: It can often take several premises to reach a conclusion. Premise 1: All monkeys are primates. Premise 2: All primates are mammals. Premise 3: All mammals are vertebrate animals. Conclusion: Monkeys are vertebrate animals.
Using logic in writing Simply creating a syllogism… Premise 1 Premise 2 Conclusion …is not enough to convince all readers. 1. Not all readers will automatically follow your line of reasoning. 2. The elements of the argument needs to be expanded.
Using logic in writing To convert a logical syllogism into a written argument: - Present each premise clearly - Provide evidence to support each premise - Draw a clear connection to the conclusion
Using logic in writing – Example Context: The government in Moronville wants to use taxpayer money to construct a new stadium. The author of the following argument is opposed to this.
Using logic in writing – Example 1 Author’s logic: Premise 1: Projects funded by taxpayer dollars should benefit a majority of the public. Premise 2: The proposed stadium constructions benefits very few members of the public. Conclusion: Therefore, the stadium construction should not be funded by taxpayer dollars.
Using logic in writing – Example 1 Author’s logic: Premise 1: Projects funded by taxpayer dollars should benefit a majority of the public. Premise 2: The proposed stadium constructions benefits very few members of the public. Conclusion: Therefore, the stadium construction should not be funded by taxpayer dollars. This conclusion is logical. However, if there is no elaboration, it may not be persuasive to the audience.
Using logic in writing – Example 1 The author elaborates on the premises (explains them adequately) and provides evidence to support each premise.
Logical Fallacies • When creating an argument, be careful with using “faulty logic”. • At times, a writer may go off course with his/her logic or may write an argument that has no logical support. • In the next few slides, we will examine some common logical fallacies
Logical Fallacies Slippery Slope Problem: based on the premise that if A happens a series will follow: B, C…X, Y, Z. Basically saying A = Z. Topic: banning SUVs. If we ban SUVs because they are bad for the environment, eventually the government will ban all cars; therefore, we should not ban SUVs.
Logical Fallacies Hasty Generalization Problem: The conclusion is based on insufficient or biased evidence. Basically: Rushing to the conclusion. Even though this is only the first episode, this TV show is clearly going to be terrible.
Logical Fallacies Post hoc ergo propter hoc (after this, therefore, because of this) Problem: Conclusions that assumes that if ‘A’ occurred after ‘B’, then ‘B’ must have caused ‘A’. Basically: Assuming that if one event follows another, the first event must have caused the second. I ate some pizza and got sick. Thus, the pizza must have made me sick.
Logical Fallacies Genetic Fallacy Problem: Conclusion is based on an argument that the origins of an idea, person, theory, etc. determine its value.Basically: Drawing a conclusion based on premises that are not inherently related. Volkswagen cars are evil because they were used by Hitler’s army.
Logical Fallacies Begging the Claim Problem: The conclusion that needs to be proven is already validated in the claim. Filthy and polluting oil should be banned.
Logical Fallacies Circular Argument Problem: Instead of proving the argument, the writer re-states the argument. Basically A is B because B. Barack Obama is a great communicator because he speaks effectively.
Logical Fallacies Either/Or Problem: The conclusion over simplifies the argument by reducing it to only two sides or choices. We can either stop using cars or destroy the earth.
Logical Fallacies Ad hominem Problem: An attack on the character of a person (or organization, etc.) rather than on opinions or arguments of that person. Basically: Because you’re bad, your argument is invalid. Green Peace’s strategies are not effective because they are all dirty, lazy idiots.
Logical Fallacies Red Herring Problem: A diversionary tactic that avoids the key issues, often avoiding opposing arguments instead of addressing them. The level of mercury in seafood may be dangerous, but what will fishermen do to support their families if we cut down on fishing?
Logical Fallacies Moral Equivalence Problem: Comparing a minor misdeed with a major atrocity. The parking attendant who gave me a ticket is as bad as Hitler.
Spot the fallacy Physical education classes are regularly opposed by policy makers who want to promote more traditional academic class in school. These policy makers are not the most qualified people to promote these changes. The issue with policy makers opposing physical education classes is that most policy makers tend to be promotion-seeking workers whose primary interest is moving ahead of everyone else. They will often resort to using unethical methods to attain advancement. ad hominem
Spot the fallacy Schools must ensure that enjoyable and health-promoting physical education class is part of the curriculum. Since students, even young students, spend most of their time in the classroom, they may become bored or distracted by the lack of physical activity. Many students, as a result, look forward to physical education (gym) class as something fun to break the tedium of the classroom. While having fun, the students are also becoming more health conscious through knowledge provided by gym teachers and activities in gym class. begging the claim
Spot the fallacy Parties insisting on a decrease in physical education classes support their views with research data that indicate students’ math and language skills have dropped drastically since more physical education classes were added to the curriculum. While this may have some value, the parties calling for less physical education classes ignore the fact that gym teachers have studied just as hard as other teachers and are a valuable component of the education system. What they teach has significant value. red herring
Spot the fallacy Many people argue that sports should not be part of the school curriculum. However, removing sports from the curriculum will have dangerous consequences. Sports are one of the best ways to encourage children to be physically active. Removing sports from the curriculum will decrease children’s interest in exercising and will lead to more obese children. slippery slope
Spot the fallacy While eager parents often assert that more academic classes, like math and science, should take precedence over physical education class because those classes have more value, they ignore the fact that physical education class has real-world value for students by teaching team work. Team work is a skill required in most jobs because it is a necessary skill at work. Students learn this skill through playing team sports like basketball and soccer in gym class. circular argument
Argumentative Writing – How to Organizing your ideas – Make an outline Organization type A: Introduction (thesis statement) Pro argument 1 Pro argument 2 Pro argument 3 Counterargument(s) and refutation [2 paragraphs]Conclusion
Argumentative Writing – How to Organizing your ideas – Make an outline Organization type B: Introduction (thesis statement)Counterargument(s) and refutation [2 paragraphs] Pro argument 1 Pro argument 2 Pro argument 3 Conclusion
Opposing arguments (counter-arguments) A view/opinion/idea OPPOSED to your position. Some may ask: “Wouldn’t this WEAKEN the argument?” - If used improperly, OF COURSE. • BUT…
Opposing arguments (counter-arguments) If chosen well, counter-arguments make YOUR argument stronger: 1. It gives the writer the chance to respond to the readers’ possible objections to the writer’s ideas BEFORE they even finish reading. 2. It also demonstrates that the writer is a reasonable person who has considered both sides of the argument.
How to present an opposing argument You should express the counter-argument objectively. (do not present it using overly negative language) i.e., “Some people foolishly believe that…” “For some crazy reason, it is thought that…” “Unbelievably, some assert that…” Remember: The point is to show the reader that you have considered both sides carefully (and seriously).
How to present an opposing argument An opposing argument can usually be presented in a sentence (or a few sentences). The important thing is to make sure you have presented the opposing argument clearly and with enough detail that it is understandable to the reader. - If an opposing argument is not described adequately, it will weaken the rebuttal. - Doing so also makes the writer appear overly biased orunder-prepared to argue the issue.
To present an opposing argument in writing: Here are some typical introduction phrases: Many people [believe/argue/feel/think/suppose/etc.] that [opposing argument]. i.e., “Many people argue that chocolate ice cream should be banned from the KMU campus because it makes students too happy, which creates a disruptive environment.” “Many people assert that chocolate ice cream should be banned from the KMU campus because…”
To present an opposing argument in writing: Here are some typical introduction phrases: It is often [thought/imagined/supposed/etc.] that [opposing argument] i.e., “It is often supposed that chocolate ice cream is dangerous because it makes students too happy, which creates a disruptive environment.” “It is often thought that chocolate ice cream is dangerous because it makes students too happy.”
To present an opposing argument in writing: Here are some typical introduction phrases: [It would be easy to/One could easily] [think/believe/imagine/suppose/etc.] that [opposing argument] i.e., “One could easily believe that chocolate ice cream is dangerous because it makes students too happy, thus creating a disruptive environment” “It would be easy to suppose that chocolate ice cream is dangerous because it makes students too happy.”
To present an opposing argument in writing: Here are some typical introduction phrases: It might [seem/appear/look/etc.] as if [opposing argument ] i.e., “It might seem as if chocolate ice cream is dangerous because it makes students too happy.” “It might appear as if chocolate ice cream is dangerous because it makes students too happy.”
Refuting an opposing argument (rebuttal) One of the most effective ways to refute/rebut an opposing argument is to show that it is based on faulty assumptions, logic, or ideas. - The facts are wrong - The analysis is incorrect. - The argument is based on values that are not acceptable.
Rebuttals - Examples NOTE: These examples are related to a claim from James Loewen’s book, Lies My Teacher Told Me (1995). Our position: “To function adequately in society, students must learn what causes racism.” Thesis: Despite objections to this claim, to function adequately in society, students must learn what causes racism.
Opposing argument: Racism is a thing of the past; therefore, students don’t need to bother with it. “Some people argue that racism is a thing of the past; therefore, students don’t need to bother with it.” - This is faulty factual assumption. What is the faulty (wrong) assumption here? “Racism is a thing of the past”.
Opposing argument :“Some people argue that racism is a thing of the past; therefore, students don’t need to bother with it.” This is faulty factual assumption. “Racism is a thing of the past”. Possible rebuttal: One response could be to give facts (evidence) that show that racism continues to be a problem.
Opposing argument :“Some people argue that racism is a thing of the past; therefore, students don’t need to bother with it.” A second faulty assumption here: - Student’s don’t need to think about what was is in the past. Possible rebuttal: - Another possible response could be to show that students must understand that past as well as the present “to function adequately in society.”