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Regarding this first week’s reading of Chap 1 of Perspectives on Argument, what did you think of when you encountered the word argument as you began your reading of this chapter? What do you think now?

Describe traditional and consensual argument. Give two examples of each.

Minimum number of words is 250

How to Argue About Stuff Logically & Make People Think You’re Right

Why Argue (Well)?

An argument is:

A series of premises that

  • Add up to a conclusion

Premise: A statement that is either true or false.

Examples:

  • Gorillas are pink.
  • The earth has a soft marshmallow core.
  • Tuesday is the best day to get your back shaved.
  • Anteaters prefer crème brulee.
  • Sponge Bob’s birth name was Norma Jean Butts.

To make an argurment, combine premises like so:

Example:

Gorillas are pink………………………… (premise 1)

and

Pink things are soft ‘n’ cuddly…………. (premise 2)

therefore ……………………………….. (inference)

Gorillas are soft ‘n’ cuddly……………… (conclusion)

Example:

Gorillas are pink.

and

Pink things are soft ‘n’ cuddly.

therefore

Gorillas are soft ‘n’ cuddly.

This part is called an inference.

It’s where you use logic to combine two premises into a brand new premise.

(When two premises love each other very much, they have a special hug and they make a NEW premise!)

To win an argument:

  • Convince your audience that your premises are true
  • Convince your audience that your conclusion is valid (logically follows from your premise)

Gorillas are pink.

and

Pink things are soft ‘n’ cuddly.

therefore

Gorillas are soft ‘n’ cuddly.

What could be wrong with this argument?

Gorillas are pink.

and

Pink things are soft ‘n’ cuddly.

therefore

Gorillas are soft ‘n’ cuddly.

Are the premises true?

Does the conclusion follow, logically?

Gorillas are pink.

and

Pink things are soft ‘n’ cuddly.

therefore

Gorillas are soft ‘n’ cuddly.

The Technical Terms:

False premise = Argument is not “sound”

False conclusion = Argument is not “valid”

(Invalid arguments use some sort of logical fallacy.)

Now, you practice!

Outline an argument:

  • Come up with two or more related premises
  • By inference, draw a conclusion from the premises.

Hand it left!

  • Label the premises and conclusion.
  • Analyze! State whether the premises are true (sound) and the conclusion is logical (valid). Explain why or why not.

Example

1. My last name is Butts. (premise)

2. I am descended from the Royal Duke, His Eminent Highness Seymore Butts, Earl of Patoots. (premise)

3. Butts is a royal surname. (premise)

4. People admire royalty. (premise)

therefore

People will admire me when they discover my last name is Butts. (conclusion)

Analysis: Premises 1, 3, and 4 are true. Premise 2 is false: I am not an actual descendent of Duke Butts, for my father was actually the bastard love child of Duchess Butts and the Earl of Weiner. The argument seems valid logically, but because there is a false premise, it is not sound.

Now, you practice!

Outline an argument:

  • Come up with two or more related premises
  • By inference, draw a conclusion from the premises.

Hand it left!

  • Label the premises and conclusion.
  • Analyze! State whether the premises are true (sound) and the conclusion is logical (valid). Explain why or why not.

valid = logical conclusion sound = true premises + logical conclusion

Read: Some Argument Terms

The following key terminology is used repeatedly throughout the e-book. You will benefit from an early understanding of these terms:

1. Argument—the goal of argumentation, to bring about a change in an audience, is at the core of the definition used in this book. Students are taught a variety of ways to analyze and engage an audience either to change its initial views on an issue or to reach a consensual understanding that all parties can accept.

2. Issue—a subject that is not settled, one that invites more than one view or perspective. Synonyms are topic or subject. Issues are phrased as questions: Should the United States remain prepared for a major world war? Should men and women receive equal treatment in the workplace?

3. Claim—the thesis or statement of focus or purpose in an argument paper. Synonyms are proposition, thesis, or main point. Claims are phrased as statements: The United States should not remain prepared for a major world war. Women should be treated differently from men in the workplace.

4. Subclaims—the main ideas or reasons in an argument. These can best be conceptualized by imagining them attached to the claim with the word “because.” For example, the United States should not remain prepared for a major world war because it is too costly, it requires too many people to interrupt their lives, and it is not likely to be needed. Or, women should be treated differently from men in the workplace because they need time for pregnancy leaves, they are not as physically strong as men, and they have more home responsibilities than men.

5. Support—additional information that is used to make claims and subclaims convincing to an audience. Synonyms are evidence, grounds, data, and proof. There are many types of support including examples, personal narratives, statistics, analogies, comparisons, definitions, descriptions, and reasoned opinion. Support for the subclaim “remaining prepared for a major world war is no longer necessary” might include specific examples and evidence of the downscaling of war efforts in other countries around the world.

6. Warrants—the stated or unstated assumptions or presuppositions of the author. Synonyms are premises, stated or unstated, implicit values, or motives. For example, the unstated warrant in the argument “women should be treated differently in the workplace because they have greater home responsibilities than men” contains the implicit warrants that no satisfactory arrangement can be made for sharing these home responsibilities with men, that there are no men or others available to share them with, or that the woman may not want to share them. Readers supply such implicit warrants from their individual backgrounds and experience. Thus the way readers perceive warrants varies from individual to individual. Here is another example: The United States should not remain prepared for a major world war because this is not a good use of tax money. A possible warrant is that other uses of tax money are preferable to spending large amounts of it on war. In addition, we have also created a second category—called “contextual warrants”—which direct students’ attention to the role the broader social and cultural factors play in shaping argument. Clearly, not everyone encountering a given argument will accept either type of warrant, and would consequently need to argue and express a different view.

7. Backing—the common values, beliefs, and practices of the larger society or culture that back up a warrant and make it either acceptable or unacceptable to an audience. For example, in a culture in which women are expected to perform all of the household chores, the warrant that no other arrangements can be made would be more readily acceptable than in a culture in which men and women share these responsibilities. Backing for the warrant that a government should not spend large amounts of tax money on war could be backed either with statistics that show that military and defense spending is taking money away from essential needs at home, or by a pervasive belief in the culture that more government taxes should be spent at home than on foreign wars. Backing for the warrants in an argument can be either unstated (implicit) in an argument or spelled out explicitly, particularly when the arguer judges that the audience needs explicit backing for the warrants to make the argument more convincing.

8. Rhetorical Situation—the context for argument. It includes the text itself, both the targeted and untargeted readers of the argument, the author, the constraints on both the audience and reader (such as existing value systems or individual backgrounds, perceptions, and experiences), and the exigence (or what happened to cause or motivate the argument in the first place). A handy mnemonic to remember the rhetorical situation is TRACE for Text, Reader, Author, Constraints, and Exigence.