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The Rhetoric of Argument
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The Rhetoric of Argument


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  • 1. The Rhetoric of Argument White and Billings The Well-Crafted Argument
  • 2. Monty Python's "Argument Clinic"
  • 3. Nature and Process
    • The more we know about argument – what it involves, how a strong argument is constructed, and what a weak argument lacks – the more likely we are to benefit from this liberty.
  • 4.
    • Informal versus Formal
      • Casual arguments often consist of little more than exchanges of opinions or unsupported generalizations
      • Formal arguments are expected to include evidence in support of generalizations if they are to succeed in making strong points, solving real problems, or changing minds.
  • 5.
    • Three basic ingredients
      • Pattern of Reasoning
      • Relevant information
      • Convincing Evidence
    • Definition of Argument
      • An argument is a form of discourse in which the writer or speaker presents a pattern of reasoning , reinforced by detailed evidence and refutation of challenging claims, that tries to persuade the audience to accept the claim .
  • 6.
    • Opinion versus Argument
      • Opinion = Public flogging of robbers would be a more effective deterrent than jailing them.
      • Opinion = “yeah, probably.” or “No way – that would contribute to a culture of violence.”
      • Argument = Supporting the statement with statistics that show a correlation between public punishment and the crime rate
      • *A good argument takes time to prepare and also guides the audience through a logical step-by-step line of reasoning from thesis to conclusion.
  • 7.
    • Definition of Argument Breakdown
    • “… a pattern of reasoning”
      • logical progression that leads the reader from thesis to support of thesis to conclusion
      • unfamiliar terms or concepts are carefully defined or explained and background information is given to enable audience to understand larger context
        • EX: SUVs are selling better than subcompacts
        • EX: The enormous popularity of SUVs is rapidly increasing gasoline consumption nationally, which in turn is leading to greater dependence on foreign oil.
  • 8.
    • Definition of Argument Breakdown
    • “… reinforced by detailed evidence”
      • any assertion must be backed up with specific, compelling evidence that is accurate, timely, relevant, and sufficient.
      • Evidence can be data derived from surveys, experiments, observations, firsthand field investigations (statistical evidence), or from expert opinion (authoritative evidence).
  • 9.
    • Definition of Argument Breakdown
    • “… that tries to persuade the audience to accept the claim”
      • the ultimate goal: to convince the audience that arguer’s point of view is a sensible one, worthy of serious consideration if not outright acceptance.
      • Often times Pathos, Ethos appeals are used to reinforce evidence
  • 10.
    • Exercise 1.1
    • Formulate an answer for 2 a,b,c,d
  • 11.
    • Communicating with Purpose
    • Communication (Aristotelian) Triangle (Audience, Writer, Subject)
    • Rhetorical Rhombus (Audience, Writer, Subject, Purpose)
    • Three Basic Kinds of Communication
      • Referential (Expository)
      • Expressive (Narrative)
      • Argumentative
  • 12.
    • Purpose in an Argumentative Context
    • The purpose is the reason why you want your audience to agree with your claim and take whatever actions is necessary to carry it out.
  • 13.
    • Role Play:
      • Teacher X: Student X, your support seems a little limited – doesn’t seem to be any umpf to your argument, where can we add more to this paper?
      • Student: I don’t know.
      • Teacher X: Well, what was your purpose for writing this paper?
      • Student: You assigned it.
      • -------PROBLEM!-------
      • You should find a professional or intrinsic purpose for writing on the topic. This is how your scope will be limited and your essay will be full of passion and energy.
  • 14.
    • Audience in an Argumentative Context
    • Your audience for all papers, unless otherwise noted, is Academic.
      • The purpose of academic writing is knowledge-sharing or idea-sharing
        • Here is what scholars have said, now here is my two-bits
  • 15.
    • Academic Arguments
    • Specialized precise language
    • Formal or semi-formal tone
    • All primary or secondary sources explicitly cited and documented, using standard formats
    • Contributions by other scholars in the field are discussed formally and in detail
    • Scholarly audience
  • 16. Reading
    • The Perils of Obedience by Stanley Milgram (Well-Crafted 691-703)
    • Find Evidence of Academic Tone
    • Answer Questions 1, 2, & (4) Support, Refute, Qualify
  • 17.
    • Writer in an Argumentative Context
    • The Writer’s role is determined by the other elements in the Rhetorical Rhombus.
  • 18.
    • Subject in an Argumentative Context
    • The role of subject differs in each argument based on the other elements of the Rhombus
  • 19. The Process of Composing
    • Read, Read, Read – Immerse yourself in the subject then you may be reading to work through the writing process.
  • 20. Exercise 1.3
    • Question 2: What appeals are at work in each of the following passages?
  • 21. Organizing the Argument
    • Introduce the topic
      • The situation in the narrative
      • The subject matter to be explained in an exposition or explanation; the problem in an argument
    • Present the particulars of the situation
      • the sequencing of incidents in a narrative
      • elements of a phenomenon in an exposition or explanation
      • the nature of the problem, followed by the body of evidence, in an argument
    • Conclude
      • The outcome in a narrative
      • The whole picture in an explanation
      • The interpretation, assessment, and recommendations in an argument
  • 22. Organizing the Argument
    • Classical Model
      • Begins with introduction that establishes the problem and states the thesis
      • Analyzes the evidence and refutes opposing views in light of the evidence collected
      • Draws conclusions and provides recommendations
    • Toulmin Model
      • Value Dependent, truth tested according to the values
    • Rogerian Model
      • One shifts the emphasis to the social act of negotiating difference through argument
      • Value Dependent but it must be negotiated cooperatively
  • 23. Composing Openings
    • Occasional Opening
      • Reference to current event
    • Startling Opening
      • Use of unexpected information
    • Anecdotal Opening
      • Brief story to engage the reader’s attention
    • Analytical Opening
      • Launches immediately into a critical discussion
  • 24. Exercise 1.4
    • Question 1,2,3
  • 25. Composing the Body of the Argument
    • The Promise made to the readers is fulfilled in the body
    • The subject portion of the Rhombus: the detailed support – facts, examples, illustrations – as well as the emotional, logical, ethical appeals.
  • 26. Composing Conclusions
    • A good conclusion enables readers to grasp the full impact of the argument.
      • If the intro states the claim, the body argues for the validity of the claim by citing evidence for it, the conclusion encapsulates all those points of evidence
      • Reflect back on the paper
      • Broaden the scope beyond your paper
      • Reinforce the readers’ emotional involvement
        • Feelings of security, hope, happiness, self-confidence, optimism, or overall well-being
  • 27. Exercise 1.5
    • Discuss the weakness/strengths of Body and Conclusion
  • 28. Revising the Argument
    • Checklist
      • Attend closely to the ways you …
        • Presented the problem
        • Stated your claims
        • Reported evidence and testimony
        • Represented challenging views
        • Drawn inferences
        • Reached conclusions
  • 29. Revision Tasks
    • Holistic (start a different draft)
    • Content (ideas and evidence)
    • Organizational (logical progression)
    • Stylistic (syntax, tone, diction)
    • Proofreading (line-by-line error check)
  • 30. Visual Aids
    • Headings and subheadings
    • Images (must contribute)
  • 31. Read Plato 650-657 Interrupted Reading