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A brief overview of argumentation and persuasion as well as coverage of some logical fallacies.

A brief overview of argumentation and persuasion as well as coverage of some logical fallacies.

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  • 1. Argumentation: A Primer “Happiness is when everyone agrees that I’m right!”
  • 2. What is Argumentation?
      • Argumentation -- clear thinking, logic to convince reader of the soundness of a particular opinion on a controversial issue.
      • Persuasion -- emotions used to convince reader to take a particular action.
      • Persuasion and argumentation are often combined.
  • 3. Arguments must have the following:
    • Logos
    • Ethos
    • Pathos
  • 4. Logos
    • "Logos" or soundness of argument -- facts, statistics, examples, and authoritative statements to support viewpoint.
    • Evidence must be: unified, specific, sufficient, accurate, and representative. This is the main strength of the argument.
  • 5. Pathos
    • "Pathos" -- appeals to readers' needs, values, and attitudes, encouraging them to commit themselves to a viewpoint or course of action.
    • Pathos is derived from language (connotative -- strong emotional overtones).
  • 6. Ethos
    • "Ethos" -- credibility and integrity. Prove to the reader that you're knowledgeable and trustworthy.
    • Give a balanced approach, acknowledge differing points of view; give lots of support for your viewpoint.
  • 7. There are two basic types of reasoning:
    • Inductive reasoning -- draw a conclusion from using specific details.
    • (Small to big)
    • Deductive reasoning -- apply a generalization to a specific case.
    • (Big to small)
  • 8. There are lots of things to consider.
    • First: There are perfectly wonderful, reasonable, intelligent people who disagree with you absolutely. (And there are dunderheads who may agree with you.) The moral: judge the argument, not the person.
  • 9. Know what you know.
    • You need to be certain of what you know as well as of what you are uncertain -- that knowledge affects your use of proofs as well as your use of language.
  • 10. Don’t offend.
    • Goodwill -- readers are more likely to listen to an argument if it is reasoned, cool, calm, and relatively dispassionate.
    • Focus on the issues, not the reader or opponent.
  • 11. Know the history.
    • Be able to identify the controversy of your issue and why there is a controversy in the first place.
  • 12. Know all sides.
    • You should be able to see the validity of both (all) sides of an issue.
    • Also, you should be able to determine what the two sides may agree on.
  • 13. What can you do with both sides?
    • Refutations -- restate opposing points of view, acknowledge the validity of some of the arguments given by opponents, point out common grounds, present evidence for your position.
    • You must be able to refute the opposition in order to have a strong argument (and get an “A” on your essay).
  • 14. Things to avoid:
    • faulty conclusions, post hoc fallacy (cause-effect sequential but not related); non sequitur fallacy (conclusion has no connection to evidence); ad hominem argument (attach person rather than point of view);
  • 15. More things to avoid:
    • faulty authority (when authority is in doubt); begging the question (reader expected to accept a controversial premise without proof); false analogy (two things share all characteristics if they share only a few); either-or fallacy (viewpoint can only have one of two solutions); red herring argument (deflect attention).
  • 16. Structure
    • There is no one “better” way to structure an argument. Whatever works, whatever is actually convincing, is the “right” way to do it.
    • Do consider the “Rogerian” method, however, because it does contain all elements of a strong argument.
  • 17. More stuff to think about:
    • Always be thorough. Find out what you don’t know -- do your research -- and don’t spout nonsense.
    • Avoid loaded words and prejudicial statements -- generalizations that are vague and often misleading and inaccurate.
  • 18. Language issues:
    • Vary sentences structure.
    • Be aware of homonyms.
    • Be aware of transitions.
    • Be aware of connotations and denotations.
    • Have a clearly identifiable thesis.
  • 19. Things to remember.
    • Avoid announcements. Please never say something like, “In this paper I will discuss…” That is fine for papers written in science or math classes, but it is not acceptable in an English class.
  • 20. Possible Beginnings
    • Broad statement narrowing to a limited subject (end introduction with thesis statement)
    • Brief anecdote leading up to thesis
    • Comparative or opposite ideas leading up to thesis
    • Series of short questions leading to thesis
    • Quotes leading to thesis
    • Refutation of a common belief leading up to a thesis
    • Dramatic fact or statistic leading to thesis
  • 21. Possible Conclusions
    • Summary of information presented (useful if your argument is long and/or complicated)
    • Prediction based on information presented
    • Quotation leading to concluding statement
    • Statistics leading to concluding statement
    • Recommendation or call for action
  • 22. Double Check These:
    • Does the paper answer the assignment given?
    • Does the paper address your audience?
    • Does the paper have the appropriate tone?
    • Does the paper serve the purpose intended?
    • Is the thesis clear and easily understood?
    • Add information where it appears to lack adequate support.
  • 23. More to remember:
    • Delete useless or confusing information.
    • Do all of the supporting statements actually support the thesis?
    • Are clear transitions used between thoughts, ideas, paragraphs?
    • Are the introduction and conclusion adequate and appropriate?
    • Is your organization systematic and methodical (consistent throughout the paper)?
  • 24. More to consider:
    • Consider sentence structure and length.
    • Reconsider word choice. Never use profanity or slang. Always identify abbreviations.
    • Proofread for correct grammar, punctuation, typing errors.
    • REPEAT ALL OF THIS UNTIL YOU ARE SATISFIED (or cannot stand to look at it anymore).
  • 25. Last Items
    • Give your paper a title
    • Make sure that your paper is on correct paper stock, typed, and legible.
    • Make sure that your paper is properly identified with your name, course title, date, and paper title
    • Make a copy of your paper and keep it as a record for yourself
    • Turn in your paper on time