Building Up a Solid Argument

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This is part of the Methodology for Urbanism series. This presentation aims to give you tips about how to put together a convincing argument and USE it in your presentation or report. This lecture is intended to students in urbanism, urban planning and urban design.

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Building Up a Solid Argument

  1. 1. Building Up a Solid Argument Critical Thinking Skills for Urbanism Roberto Rocco Spatial Planning and Strategy TU Delft !"#$$%&%()"%(*+)+,%Thursday, 3March, 2011
  2. 2. SharpThursday, 3March, 2011
  3. 3. PreciseThursday, 3March, 2011
  4. 4. CriticalThursday, 3March, 2011
  5. 5. MotivatedThursday, 3March, 2011
  6. 6. Elements of an argument ✦The Author’s position ✦An implicit or explicit world view (are you a poet, a medical doctor or an urbanist?) ✦A line of reasoning to support a conclusion ✦The intention to persuadeThursday, 3March, 2011
  7. 7. But most important ✦ Introduce an ISSUE or a PROBLEM you want to discuss or develop.Thursday, 3March, 2011
  8. 8. And make a question! Make a question. The audience will try to answer it WITH you. They will follow your argument closely and will make preliminary conclusions in the RIGHT DIRECTION!Thursday, 3March, 2011
  9. 9. Weakness of argumentation ✦Poor structure ✦Logical inconsistency ✦Hidden assumptionsThursday, 3March, 2011
  10. 10. But most important ✦ If you do not introduce the issue, the problem or the contradiction you want to tackle, the audience will inevitably think:Thursday, 3March, 2011
  11. 11. Why am I listening to this?Thursday, 3March, 2011
  12. 12. Other causes for weakness ✦ Confusing cause and effect ✦ Attacking the character of a person rather than evaluating their reasoning ✦ Misrepresentation ✦ Emotive languageThursday, 3March, 2011
  13. 13. False correlations ✦The number of car crimes has increased. In the past, there used to be a limited number of car colours from which buyers could choose. Now there is much more variety. The wider the choice of car colours, the higher the rate of car crime.Thursday, 3March, 2011
  14. 14. Correlation does not imply causationThursday, 3March, 2011
  15. 15. False correlation A occurs in correlation with B. Therefore, A causes B.Thursday, 3March, 2011
  16. 16. Reverse causation (B causes A) The more firemen fighting a fire, the bigger the fire is. Therefore firemen cause fire. Source:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Correlation_does_not_imply_causationThursday, 3March, 2011
  17. 17. A causes B and B causes A (bidirectional causation) Increased pressure results in increased temperature.Therefore pressure causestemperature. Source:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Correlation_does_not_imply_causationThursday, 3March, 2011
  18. 18. They are proportional to each other The ideal gas law, PV = nRT, describes the direct relationship between pressure and temperature (along with other factors) to show that there is a direct correlation between the two properties. For a fixed volume, an increase in temperature will cause an increase in pressure; likewise, increased pressure will cause an increase in temperature. This demonstrates in that the two are directly proportional to each other and not independent Source:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Correlation_does_not_imply_causationThursday, 3March, 2011
  19. 19. A third factor C (the common- causal variable) causes both A and B As ice cream sales increase, the rate of drowning deaths increases sharply. Therefore, ice cream causes drowning. Source:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Correlation_does_not_imply_causationThursday, 3March, 2011
  20. 20. Determining causation Intuitively, causation seems to require not just a correlation, but a counterfactual dependence.Thursday, 3March, 2011
  21. 21. The lazy student Suppose that a student performed poorly on a test and guesses that the cause was his not studying. To prove this, one thinks of the counterfactual – the same student writing the same test under the same circumstances but having studied the night before Source:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Correlation_does_not_imply_causationThursday, 3March, 2011
  22. 22. Classic examples in Urbanism: Find the false correlations ✦ Xi’An is a large city in central China, only recently touched by the Chinese central government- sponsored developmental policy named ‘Go West’. ✦ Xi’An is now experiencing rapid economic growth. However, the city is not fulfilling its capacity to operate as a global city for China’s hinterland. ✦ The aim of this project is to build a business area in the model of La Defense in Paris, so that Xi’An can play its due role as a Chinese global city in the region.Thursday, 3March, 2011
  23. 23. Classic examples in Urbanism: Find the false correlations ✦ Delft is a Creative City because it is the home of the largest technical university of the Netherlands, as well as several applied sciences colleges and research institutes. Its “cappuccino coefficient” is very high (Florida, 2002). Therefore, its inhabitants enjoy an atmosphere of creativity and invention. ✦ The municipality wants to increase the city’s ‘creative’ profile by connecting the city centre to TU Delft in a more consistent way. ✦ By designing a new connection between the old city centre and the university, the municipality expects to improve the accessibility of inhabitants to knowledge and to give students more access to the ‘cappuccino’ factor.Thursday, 3March, 2011
  24. 24. Classic examples in Urbanism: Find the false correlations ✦ The neighbourhood called Vrederust in the west of the Dutch city of The Hague is a typical example of post-war modernist development. It is a grey, repetitive, uninspired neighbourhood plagued by social problems. It is one of the so called ‘Vogelaarwijken’, the list of 50 ‘problem neighbourhoods’ in the Netherlands. ✦ The high concentration of non-Western migrants is the reason the place is so violent and unfriendly. The plans of the municipality include the demolition of 2/3 of the existing housing stock to be replaced with new up to date housing. ✦ By improving the living environments, the municipality expects to mitigate the problems in the area and attract new inhabitants.Thursday, 3March, 2011
  25. 25. Predicting the future? But how do we investigate causality in a design project?Thursday, 3March, 2011
  26. 26. Investigation, my dear Watson!Thursday, 3March, 2011
  27. 27. Particularity of design ✦ Although it is IMPOSSIBLE to predict whether a design or a plan will work or not, it is possible to anticipate some SPATIAL consequences of an intervention by ! DESIGNING! !"#$%&($(")*&#+*#"$,-%.)*(#*/-#0*1-#0234"#54"#*6"0&-7-() 3-8%9":*;"("*!&-<*=%&+8&$"*)$8+"#$<*!-67">*!($(")*?@A@ Author: Feile Cao, 2010Thursday, 3March, 2011
  28. 28. But let’s first think of CAUSES It is IMPERATIVE for us to concentrate on causality, because we want to solve the right problems with our designs and plans. To be able to explain WHY your design or plan will work, you need to understand: ✦ The problem you are tackling ✦ The CAUSES of that problemThursday, 3March, 2011
  29. 29. How to build an argument? ✦ In every aspect of life, we need to communicate our ideas and convince people of our views. ✦ In order to do that properly, we need to be able to explain WHY our arguments are valid.Thursday, 3March, 2011
  30. 30. Build a strong argument! Approach all issues from the point of view of a sceptic reader Use formal logic and other rhetorical devices Order your arguments for maximum effect.Thursday, 3March, 2011
  31. 31. The sceptic readerThursday, 3March, 2011
  32. 32. When writing to persuade, whose point of view is most important? Not yours - you are already convinced that your points are true! Therefore, when writing to persuade, you should adopt a sceptics point of view. When sceptics read arguments, they raise doubts and questions. The most persuasive arguments are the ones that anticipate these doubts and questions and respond to them in advance. Source: http://www.galeschools.com/research_tools/src/build_arguement.htmThursday, 3March, 2011
  33. 33. Use logic! In logic, arguments are propositions that fit together in a structure. The structure is composed of premises and the conclusions that follow.Thursday, 3March, 2011
  34. 34. Example ✦ The Randstad is a huge and rich polycentric urban agglomeration located at the Delta of the river Rhine. ✦ River deltas are particularly affected by climate change, because they are characterised by heavy rainfalls, which are bound to become heavier as the climate warms up, and they need to deal with changing tidal regimes (sea levels might be rising). ✦ THEREFORE, the Randstad is particularly sensitive to climate change, and new and inventive solutions must be found to allow urbanisation to thrive.Thursday, 3March, 2011
  35. 35. But beware! All the premisses MUST be true in order for your argument to be true as well.Thursday, 3March, 2011
  36. 36. Are these premisses true? ✦ The Randstad is a huge and rich polycentric urban agglomeration located at the Delta of the river Rhine. ✦ River deltas are particularly sensitive to climate change, because they are characterised by heavy rainfalls, which are bound to become heavier as the climate warms up, and they need to deal with changing tidal regimes (sea levels might be rising). ✦ THEREFORE, the Randstad is particularly sensitive to climate change, and new and inventive solutions must be found to allow urbanisation to thrive.Thursday, 3March, 2011
  37. 37. You need to make your arguments grounded by authority HOW?Thursday, 3March, 2011
  38. 38. Guess... Research!Thursday, 3March, 2011
  39. 39. At your presentation or when writing a text... ✦ Make questions (the research questions are there to direct attention and focus) ✦ Tell a very abbreviated version of your story at the beginning of your presentation (in a text this called an abstract!), so people know the story line and can follow it better ✦ Have a coherent and solid narrative (a story), without too many holes and where all pieces fit together (that’s the meaning of ‘coherent’)Thursday, 3March, 2011
  40. 40. Show us the way!✦ Make sure the audience knows the structure of your story FIRST! (have a slide with the structure or outline the structure in the report)✦ Remind the audience of the last steps before proceeding✦ Make sure one step leads to the next in a LOGICAL wayThursday, 3March, 2011
  41. 41. Illustrate *and design! ✦ ILLUSTRATE (after al, you are a designer!)Use maps, photographs, sound, video: be creative! ✦ Situate yourself and the audience (geographically, but also theoretically!)Thursday, 3March, 2011
  42. 42. Thanks for listening! Questions? With special thanks to Matt Smith (ChernobylBob) of Gloucester, UK, whose photos adorn these pages. Matt’s photographs are available at: www.flickr.com/photos/chernobylbob/ Prepared by Roberto Rocco, TU Delft r.c.rocco@tudelft.nlThursday, 3March, 2011
  43. 43. The EndThursday, 3March, 2011

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