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Propositions . A proposition is the declarative statement that an advocate intends to support in the argument. Some propositions are stated formally, some are stated informally, and some are implied. Propositions usually answer questions: such as What should be done about inflation?

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  • A proposition is the declarative statement that an advocate intends to support in the argument.

  • Some propositions are stated formally, some are stated informally, and some are implied.

  • Propositions usually answer questions: such as What should be done about inflation?

  • Is the same thing as the claim in the Toulmin model, or a conclusion in classical model.

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  • There is a difference between a proposition, claims and an assertion.

  • An assertion is a claim or proposition with no support.

  • Assertions tend to weaken arguments due to their lack of support.

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Responsibilities of Advocates

  • Anyone who argues in favor of the general proposition has the burden of proof for that proposition.

  • The burden of proof is the responsibility to provide enough evidence and reasoning to justify acceptance by a critical thinker.

  • Those who argue against the proposition have the benefit of presumption.

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  • Presumptions are the perspectives that the proposition should not be accepted until sufficient evidence and reasoning have been provided to justify acceptance.

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Types of propositions

  • Propositions of fact – when an advocate argues in favor of accepting a statement that is something factually true, was factually true, or will be factually true.

  • A proposition of fact still requires support so it does not matter if it is good or bad.

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Proposition of Fact

  • California will suffer an earthquake of 10.0 in the next 5 years. OR:

  • Jeff Gordon is the best Nascar driver ever!

  • The advocate then provides reasons to believe the statement.

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Stock issues for Fact

Stock issues: definition and distinction

Defines what the proposition means and does not mean

Stock Issue: criteria – establishes truth

How do we tell if something is true or not

Stock Issue: application

Arguing that criteria are being met or will be met , so proposition is true

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Proposition of Value

  • You support an evaluation about something, such as how good a product is.

  • Stock issue: Value – an argument of which value or set of values is the most important in drawing a conclusion for this argument

  • Such as: vegetables are healthier than meat – set of values is taste, health, life, quality of life, etc.

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Proposition of Policy

  • Whenever you argue that some change of action should take place.

  • Many times involve public policy issues and laws

  • Policy propositions attempt to make a change in the status quo

  • Example: The federal government should institute a national health care program for all US citizens.

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Stock Issues for Policy

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What are stock issues?

  • “Arguments that naturally recur in disputes over propositions of policy.” (Hollihan and Baaske)

  • Arguments that address “all” of the stock issues usually are stronger than those that don’t.

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Stock issues address the following questions:

  • What is the problem?

  • How big is the problem?

  • What’s causing the problem?

  • What should be done to correct the problem?

  • How well will that action solve the problem?

  • Will the action create other benefits or harms?

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What are the stock issues for propositions of policy?

  • Harm

  • Significance

  • Inherency

  • Plan

  • Solvency

  • Advantages

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  • The advocate tries to demonstrate that something is wrong that needs to be fixed.

  • The problem(s) can be existing now or in the future.

  • The problem(s) can be within people, animals, psychological, economic, environmental, organizations, etc . . .

  • Opposition would indicate that there is really nothing wrong.

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  • Shows how bad the harm is.

  • Two types of significance: qualitative and quantitative.

  • Qualitative significance shows that the harm has severe detrimental effects on whoever is harmed. (value argument)

  • Quantitative significance is concerned with how much has been effected? (factual argument)

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  • What is causing the harm in the statusquo?

  • Two types: structural inherency and attitudinal inherency.

  • Physical and systematic causes can create problems within the status quo.

  • Such things as laws, regulations, and judicial decisions can have an effect on a status quo.

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  • Attitudinal inherency is concerned with the attitudes that people hold that cause the problem.

  • Attitudes are unlikely to change unless some kind of legislative action takes place.

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  • What you propose to do to solve the problem.

  • This stock issue is critical to the affirmative.

  • The plan can be small or large, detailed or vague in nature.

  • Make sure your plans are “realistic”.

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  • Addresses: “How much of the problem will be solved by the plan?”

  • Some solutions don’t solve all of the problem.

  • We can’t assume that a plan will resolve the entire problem.

  • Opposition would show that the plan is unworkable.

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  • Addresses: “What will be the benefits of adopting the plan?”

  • Similar to Monroe’s “visualization” step.

  • The opposition would address disadvantages of the proposed plan.

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  • Start by figuring out whether the arguer is proposing or opposing a proposition.

  • Decide what the proposition is and what kind of proposition it is?

  • Keep in mind that stock issues do not come in any particular order and are rarely explicitly identified.

  • Some stock issues are not addressed in the argument.

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  • How well were they addressed?

  • Did the arguer meet the “burden of proof?”

  • Finally, make a judgment of whether you believe the argument was strong or weak?

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  • Understanding the stock issues for each type of proposition helps you make your own arguments, evaluate the arguments of others, and respond to arguments.

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