Writing Arguments


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Provides an overview of how to write an argumentative essay--also includes brief discussion of logical fallacies

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Writing Arguments

  1. 1. Writing Argumentative Essays Mack Gipson, Jr. Tutorial and Enrichment Center Gayla S. Keesee Education Specialist 10/2006
  2. 2. An argument presents logical reasons and evidence to support a viewpoint.
  3. 3. Parts of an Argument <ul><li>ISSUE - problem or controversy about which people disagree </li></ul><ul><li>CLAIM - the position on the issue (Thesis) </li></ul><ul><li>SUPPORT - reasons and evidence that the claim is reasonable and should be accepted </li></ul><ul><li>REFUTATION - opposing viewpoints </li></ul>
  4. 4. Thesis Statements <ul><li>Topic— Issue </li></ul><ul><li>Controlling Idea— Claim </li></ul><ul><li>Supporting Details </li></ul><ul><li>Must be concise and to the point </li></ul>
  5. 5. Organizing Your Argument <ul><li>Clustering pattern— present information in sections </li></ul>Similar to Comparison/Contrast Organizational Patterns <ul><li>Background </li></ul><ul><li>Evidence </li></ul><ul><li>Counterarguments </li></ul><ul><li>Rebuttal </li></ul><ul><li>Background </li></ul><ul><li>Refutation </li></ul><ul><li>Evidence </li></ul><ul><li>Summary </li></ul>
  6. 6. Organizing Your Argument <ul><li>Alternating pattern </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Shift between evidence, counterargument, and rebuttal for each separate piece of evidence </li></ul></ul>Similar to Comparison/Contrast Organizational Patterns
  7. 7. Organizing Your Argument <ul><li>Problem—Solution </li></ul><ul><ul><li>General introduction to the problem—background </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Include thesis statement </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>History of the problem </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Past attempts at a solution (Sources needed) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Extent of the problem </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>who is affected </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>how bad it is (Sources needed) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Repercussion if not solved (Sources needed) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Conclusion </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Restatement of thesis and summary of main ideas </li></ul></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Types of Claims <ul><li>CLAIM OF FACT - statement that can be proven or verified by observation or research </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Within ten years, destruction of the rain forests will cause hundreds of plant and animal species to become extinct.” </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Types of Claims <ul><li>CLAIM OF VALUE - states that one thing or idea is better or more desirable than another. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Requiring community service in high school will produce more community-aware graduates.” </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Types of Claims <ul><li>CLAIM OF POLICY - suggests what should or ought to be done to solve a problem. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ To reduce school violence, more gun and metal detectors should be installed in public schools.” </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Types of Support <ul><li>EVIDENCE —show why the claim is valid </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Reasons </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Facts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Statistics </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Personal experiences </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Comparisons </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Examples </li></ul></ul><ul><li>EMOTIONAL APPEALS </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ideas targeted toward needs or </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>values readers likely to care about </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Errors in Supporting Evidence <ul><li>Do not weaken your argument </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Unfair Emotional Appeals </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Invalid or unstated assumptions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Conclusions that do not logically come from the evidence </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Unfair Emotional Appeals <ul><li>Emotionally Charged or Biased Language </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Modern universities are infested by the whining of idle intellectuals who force their decadence and discontent onto our captive youth.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>infested, whining, idle, force, decadence, and discontent imply writer’s disdain for scholars and will immediately alienate many readers </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. Unfair Emotional Appeals <ul><li>Testimonials/false authorities— assumes that an expert in one field is also an expert in another. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>athletes endorsing SUV’s </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>movie stars selling shampoo </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. Unfair Emotional Appeals <ul><li>Appeal to “Common Folk” </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>an ad showing a product being used in an average household </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>a politician suggesting he is like everyone else </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>“ Join the Crowd” Appeal or Bandwagon </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Everyone else is, so why don’t you…? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Everyone else believes that …, so you should also. </li></ul></ul></ul>
  16. 16. Errors in Logical Reasoning <ul><li>Ad Hominem - attack on the person rather than his/her viewpoint </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ She says we need more military spending, but that is false, since she is only saying it because she is a Republican.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ I think that we should reject what Father Jones has to say about the ethical issues of abortion because he is a Catholic priest. After all, Father Jones is required to hold such views.” </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. Errors in Logical Reasoning <ul><li>Guilt by association - a person rejects a claim simply because it is pointed out that people she dislikes accept the claim. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ You think that 1+1=2. But, Adolf Hitler, Charles Manson, Joseph Stalin, and Ted Bundy all believed that 1+1=2. So, you shouldn't believe it.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bin Laden supports Iraq in opposition to the U.S. There is an “alliance of terror” between bin Laden and Iraq, and this is a reason to make war on Iraq. </li></ul></ul>
  18. 18. Errors in Logical Reasoning <ul><li>Hasty Generalization - conclusion based on insufficient evidence or bias </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Someone who is a sexist might conclude that all women are unfit to fly jet fighters because one woman crashed one. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ Because one apple is sour, all of them in the bowl must be sour.” </li></ul></ul></ul>
  19. 19. Errors in Logical Reasoning <ul><li>Either-Or Fallacy - states that only two alternatives exist when in fact there are more than two. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Because of the violence, TV must be either allowed or banned.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ My country: love it or leave it.” </li></ul></ul>
  20. 20. Errors in Logical Reasoning <ul><li>Non Sequitur - a conclusion that does not follow from the original statement. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Because my doctor is young, I’m sure she’ll be a good doctor.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Science has not ‘proven’ that EMF can cause cancer ... so what are you worrying about ... it's safe.” </li></ul></ul>
  21. 21. Errors in Logical Reasoning <ul><li>Circular Reasoning/Begging the Question – author supports a conclusion by giving a reason that says the same thing. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Conclusion: Gun control legislation needs serious and drastic revision. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Supporting Reason: Our country cannot afford to continue without legislative revision. </li></ul></ul>
  22. 22. Errors in Logical Reasoning <ul><li>Slippery Slope - assumes that if one thing is allowed, it will be the first step in a downward spiral </li></ul><ul><ul><li>If a teenager uses birth control, he/she will have sex more often. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>If a person uses marijuana, he/she will naturally start using hard drugs soon. </li></ul></ul>
  23. 23. Errors in Logical Reasoning <ul><li>False Cause - assumes that because one event follows another, the first is the cause of the second </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Because I brought my umbrella today, it didn’t rain.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Because I washed my car, it will rain.” </li></ul></ul>
  24. 24. Checklist for Evaluating Arguments <ul><li>Relevancy and Sufficiency of Evidence </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Is there enough of the right kind to support your claim? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Definition of Terms </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Terms should be carefully defined and used consistently </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Cause-Effect Relationships </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Evidence that the relationship exists </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>should be present </li></ul></ul>
  25. 25. Checklist for Evaluating Arguments <ul><li>Personal Experience </li></ul><ul><ul><li>May be biased—need additional support </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Examples </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Should not be used by themselves </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Statistics </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Can be misused, manipulated or misinterpreted </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Comparisons and Analogies </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Reliability depends on how closely they correspond to the situation </li></ul></ul>
  26. 26. Offering a Counterargument <ul><li>Demonstrates your credibility </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Researched multiple sides of the argument </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Made an informed decision </li></ul></ul>
  27. 27. Counterarguing Effectively <ul><li>Consider your audience </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Conceding some of your opposition’s concerns demonstrates respect for their opinions </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Remain tactful yet firm </li></ul><ul><li>No rude or mocking language </li></ul><ul><ul><li>can cause your audience to reject your position without carefully considering your claims. </li></ul></ul>
  28. 28. Checklist for Evaluating Counterarguments <ul><li>Refuting Opposing Viewpoints </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Address opposing viewpoints clearly and fairly </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Refute the opposing viewpoint with logic and relevant evidence </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Question the accuracy , relevancy or sufficiency of the opponent’s evidence </li></ul></ul>
  29. 29. For a fantastic tutorial <ul><li>The unit is built around one particular type of argumentative essay. It is important to understand that there are many other ways of structuring argumentative essays than the one proposed in this unit. However, the structure outlined here has proved to be very effective in giving students a clear, accessible and useable model for their own essays. </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.ltn.lv/~markir/essaywriting/frntpage.htm </li></ul>