Argument in academic writing


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Argument in academic writing

  1. 1. Argument
  2. 2. This presentation is based on Chapter 13: Writing a Classical Argument, from The Allyn and Bacon Guide to Writing (6th edition). The purpose of this presentation in ENG 1123 is to define argument, and to explain how to evaluate and develop arguments.
  3. 3. It starts with a question! What is argument? (Discuss.) Why do we need it?
  4. 4. model: argument as fight
  5. 5. Argument as fight Where do we find examples of argument as hostility-charged fist waving, argument as shouting match?
  6. 6. the media! The government! Family feuds! political talk shows, campaign advertisements, blogs, newspapers, etc.
  7. 7. model: argument as two-sided debate or argument as pro-con debate
  8. 8. model: argument as committee deliberation or collaborative exploration with consideration of multiple points of view
  9. 9. Which model should we prefer in academic writing? While the fight model charges argument with hostility and the pro-con debate reduces every argument to two sides and the ultimate goal is to win, the model of a committee of diverse voices dedicated to the common cause of finding a solution to a problem allows us to see argument as both process and product.
  10. 10. Argument has two main components: Truth seeking: open minded search for the best course of action or solution to a problem, taking into account all of the available information and alternative points of view Persuasion: the art of making a claim on an issue and justifying it convincingly so that the audience’s initial resistance to your position is overcome and they are compelled to move toward your position
  11. 11. Aren’t truth seeking and persuasion at odds? Truth seeking requires that we relax our certainties and be willing to change our views Persuasion asks us to be certain enough to convince others If we avoid argument as fight and argument as pro-con debate, approaching argument as a truth seeking process that results in a persuasive product, or argument essay, the two work well together.
  12. 12. Stages of developmentLevel 1: Personal opinion: We often start arguments with strong personal opinions but have trouble justifying our opinions with reasons and evidence; we often rely on circular arguments that are insulting to those who hold opposing viewpoints. Think of examples. Discuss. When you start from a position of certainty, what is the focus of your research?
  13. 13. Level 2: Argument structured as claim supported by one or more reasons: This stage is a huge leap from the previous one. Having made the leap to support a claim, the writer can now make develop a structured plan with point sentences (the reasons) and particulars (evidence). Pursue one of the previously discussed topics to develop point sentences and particulars. Our goal in this class is to develop arguments beyond level 2. *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 has *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 has
  14. 14. Level 3: Increased attention to truth seeking: A level 3 argument writer becomes increasingly engaged with the complexity of the issue as he or she considers multiple points of view, conducts research, and evaluates stances. Level 3 argument writers are willing to change their positions when they see the power of other arguments.
  15. 15. Level 4: Ability to articulate the unstated assumptions underlying their arguments. This argument writer understands that each reason in an argument is based upon an assumption, value, or belief (often unstated) that the audience must accept if the argument is to be persuasive. At this stage, students are able to identify and analyze their own assumptions as well as those of their intended audience.
  16. 16. Level 5: Ability to link an argument to the values and beliefs of the intended audience. When writers understand their audience’s values and beliefs, they can adapt the structure and tone of an argument to more effectively appeal to them. Level 5 argument writers who approach argument as both process and product, thus, become skilled in truth seeking and persuasion.
  17. 17. What is the first step to formulating an argument, then,? Find an arguable issue. Make a list of several communities that you belong to and then identify one or more questions currently being contested within those communities. Pick two or three issues of interest to you, and try framing them in different ways: as broad or narrow questions, as open-ended or “yes/no” questions.
  18. 18. Framework for a classical argument: Introduction: grabs the reader’s attention, explains the issue, provides background info, thesis, preview of development Presentation of writer’s position: presents reasons to accept thesis (each tied to a value or belief held by the audience) Summary of opposing views: sums up views differing from writer’s without bias (should be fair and complete) Response to opposing views: refutes opposing views, illustrates the weaknesses in them, and possibly concedes some strengths Conclusion: Brings closure, sums up argument, leaves lasting impression, often calls for action or relates topic to a larger context