This presentation is based on Chapter 13: Writinga Classical Argument, from The Allyn and BaconGuide to Writing (6th edition).The purpose of this presentation in ENG 1123 is todeﬁne argument, and to explain how to evaluateand develop arguments.
It starts with a question!What is argument? (Discuss.)Why do we need it?
MODEL: ARGUMENT AS FIGHT
Argument as ﬁghtWhere do we ﬁnd examples of argument ashostility-charged ﬁst waving, argument asshouting match?
THE MEDIA! THE GOVERNMENT! FAMILY FEUDS!POLITICAL TALK SHOWS, CAMPAIGN ADVERTISEMENTS, BLOGS, NEWSPAPERS, ETC.
MODEL: ARGUMENT AS TWO-SIDED DEBATEOR ARGUMENT AS PRO-CON DEBATE
MODEL: ARGUMENT AS COMMITTEE DELIBERATIONOR COLLABORATIVE EXPLORATION WITH CONSIDERATION OF MULTIPLE POINTS OF VIEW
Which model should weprefer in ENG 1123?While the ﬁght model charges argument withhostility and the pro-con debate reduces everyargument to two sides and the ultimate goal is towin, the model of a committee of diverse voicesdedicated to the common cause of ﬁnding asolution to a problem allows us to see argumentas both process and product.
Argument has two maincomponents:Truth seeking: open Persuasion: the art ofminded search for the making a claim on anbest course of action issue and justifying itor solution to a convincingly so thatproblem, taking into the audience’s initialaccount all of the resistance to youravailable information position is overcomeand alternative points and they areof view compelled to move toward your position
Aren’t truth seeking andpersuasion at odds?Truth seeking requires that we relax our certainties andbe willing to change our viewsPersuasion asks us to be certain enough to convinceothersIf we avoid argument as ﬁght and argument as pro-condebate, approaching argument as a truth seekingprocess that results in a persuasive product, or argumentessay, the two work well together.
Stages of developmentLevel 1: Personal opinion: We often startarguments with strong personal opinions but havetrouble justifying our opinions with reasons andevidence; we often rely on circular arguments thatare insulting to those who hold opposingviewpoints.Think of examples. Discuss. When you start from aposition of certainty, what is the focus of yourresearch?
*When the writer’s purpose is to argue a point from an established personal opinion, the focus of research is to find evidence that supports the view one already hasLevel 2: Argument structured as claim supported by oneor more reasons: This stage is a huge leap from theprevious one. Having made the leap to support a claim,the writer can now make develop a structured plan withpoint sentences (the reasons) and particulars (evidence).Pursue one of the previously discussed topics to developpoint sentences and particulars.Our goal in this class is to develop arguments beyondlevel 2.
Level 3: Increased attention to truth seeking: Alevel 3 argument writer becomes increasinglyengaged with the complexity of the issue as he orshe considers multiple points of view, conductsresearch, and evaluates stances.Level 3 argument writers are willing to change theirpositions when they see the power of otherarguments.
Level 4: Ability to articulate the unstatedassumptions underlying their arguments.This argument writer understands that eachreason in an argument is based upon anassumption, value, or belief (often unstated) thatthe audience must accept if the argument is to bepersuasive.At this stage, students are able to identify andanalyze their own assumptions as well as those oftheir intended audience.
Level 5: Ability to link an argument to the valuesand beliefs of the intended audience. When writersunderstand their audience’s values and beliefs,they can adapt the structure and tone of anargument to more effectively appeal to them.Level 5 argument writers who approach argumentas both process and product, thus, become skilledin truth seeking and persuasion.
What is the ﬁrst step to formulating anargument, then,? •Mississippi voter •mother of child who “cannot stay on task” •community college employee •over weight AmericanFind an arguable issue. •SES parentMake a list of several communities that you belongto and then identify one or more questionscurrently being contested within thosecommunities.Pick two or three issues of interest to you, and tryframing them in different ways: as broad or narrowquestions, as open-ended or “yes/no” questions.
Framework for a classical argument:Introduction: grabs the reader’s attention, explains the issue,provides background info, thesis, preview of developmentPresentation of writer’s position: presents reasons to acceptthesis (each tied to a value or belief held by the audience)Summary of opposing views: sums up views differing fromwriter’s without bias (should be fair and complete)Response to opposing views: refutes opposing views, illustratesthe weaknesses in them, and possibly concedes some strengthsConclusion: Brings closure, sums up argument, leaves lastingimpression, often calls for action or relates topic to a largercontext