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Organizing Your Argument. A presentation brought to you by the Purdue University Writing Lab, adapted by Steven Federle, Solano College. What is an argument?.

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Organizing your argument l.jpg

Organizing Your Argument

A presentation brought to you by

the Purdue University

Writing Lab, adapted by Steven Federle, Solano College


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What is an argument?

  • An argument involves the process of establishing a claim and then proving it with the use of logical reasoning, examples, and research.

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Why is organization important in building an argument?

  • Guides an audience through your reasoning process

  • Offers a clear explanation of each argued point

  • Demonstrates the credibility of the writer

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Organizing your argument

  • Title

  • Introduction

    • Thesis statement

  • Body Paragraphs

    • Constructing Topic Sentences

    • Building Main Points

    • Countering the Opposition

  • Conclusion

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Title--why do you need one?

  • Introduces the topic of discussion to the audience

  • Generates reader interest in the argument

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Creating a Title

  • Try to grab attention by

    • offering a provocative image

    • picking up on words or examples offered in the body or conclusion of the paper

    • asking a question

  • Avoid titles that are too general or lack character

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Considering Titles

Imagine you just wrote a paper offering solutions to the problem of road rage. Which do you consider to be the best title?

Road Rage

Can’t Drive 55

Road Rage: Curing Our Highway Epidemic

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What is an introduction?

  • Acquaints the reader with the topic and purpose of the paper

  • Generates the audience’s interest in the topic

  • Offers a plan for the ensuing argument

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Methods for Constructing an Introduction

  • personal anecdote

  • example-real or hypothetical

  • question

  • quotation

  • shocking statistics

  • striking image

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What is a thesis statement?

  • The MOST IMPORTANT SENTENCE in your paper

  • Lets the reader know the main idea of the paper

  • Answers the question: “What am I trying to prove?”

  • Not a factual statement, but a claim that has to be proven throughout the paper

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Role of the thesis statement

  • The thesis statement should guide your reader through your argument.

  • The thesis statement is generally located in the introduction of the paper.

  • A thesis statement may also be located within the body of the paper or in the conclusion, depending upon the purpose or argument of the paper.

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Which thesis statement is the most effective for an argument about the need for V-chips in television sets?

  • Parents, often too busy to watch television shows with their families, can monitor their children’s viewing habits with the aid of the V-chip.

  • To help parents monitor their children’s viewing habits, the V-chip should be a required feature for television sets sold in the U.S.

  • This paper will describe a V-chip and examine the uses of the V-chip in American-made television sets.

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Body Paragraphs and about the need for V-chips in television sets? Topic Sentences

  • Body paragraphs build upon the claims made in the introductory paragraph(s)

  • Organize with the use of topic. sentences that illustrate the main idea of each paragraph.

  • Offering a brief explanation of the history or recent developments in your topic within the early body paragraphs can help the audience to become familiarized with your topic and the complexity of the issue.

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Body Paragraphs about the need for V-chips in television sets?

  • Paragraphs may be ordered in several ways, depending upon the topic and purpose of your argument:

    • General to specific information

    • Most important point to least important point

    • Weakest claim to strongest claim

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Offering a Counterargument about the need for V-chips in television sets?

  • Addressing the claims of the opposition is an important component in building a convincing argument.

  • It demonstrates your credibility as a writer--you have researched multiple sides of the argument and have come to an informed decision.

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Offering a Counterargument about the need for V-chips in television sets?

  • Counterarguments may be located at various locations within your body paragraphs.

  • You may choose to

    • build each of your main points as a contrast to oppositional claims.

    • offer a counterargument after you have articulated your main claims.

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Counterarguing effectively about the need for V-chips in television sets?

  • Consider your audience when you offer your counterargument.

  • Conceding to some of your opposition’s concerns can demonstrate respect for their opinions.

  • Remain tactful yet firm.

    • Using rude or deprecating language can cause your audience to reject your position without carefully considering your claims.

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Incorporating research into the body paragraphs about the need for V-chips in television sets?

  • Researched material can aid you in proving the claims of your argument and disproving oppositional claims.

  • Be sure to use your research to support the claims made in your topic sentences--make your research work to prove your argument!

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Conclusion -- The Big Finale about the need for V-chips in television sets?

  • Your conclusion should reemphasize the main points made in your paper.

  • You may choose to reiterate a call to action or speculate on the future of your topic, when appropriate.

  • Avoid raising new claims in your conclusion.

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Organizing your argument about the need for V-chips in television sets?

  • Title

  • Introduction

  • Body Paragraphs

    • Constructing Topic Sentences

    • Building Main Points

    • Countering the Opposition

  • Conclusion

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Rhetorical Forms for Argument about the need for V-chips in television sets?

  • Rogerian Argument

  • Deductive Argument

  • Inductive Argument

  • Syllogism

  • Toulmin Argument

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Rogerian Argument about the need for V-chips in television sets?Conciliatory style

  • Begin by summarizing opposing viewpoints

  • Carefully consider the position of those who disagree with you. What are their legitimate concerns? If you were in their place, how would you react?

  • Present opposing points of view accurately and fairly. Demonstrate respect for the ideas of those who disagree with you.

  • Acknowledge the concerns that you and your opposition share.

  • Point out to readers how they will benefit from the position you are defining.

  • Present the evidence that supports your point of view.

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Using deductive and inductive arguments about the need for V-chips in television sets?

  • Deductive reasoning proceeds from a general premise or assumption to a specific conclusion.

  • Inductive reasoning proceeds from individual observations to a more general conclusion.

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Deductive Reasoning about the need for V-chips in television sets?

  • Syllogism: a syllogism consists of

    • a major premise, which is a general statement;

    • A minor premise which is a related but more specific statement

    • And a conclusion, which has to be drawn from those premises.

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Syllogism about the need for V-chips in television sets?

  • Major premise: All Olympic runners are fast

  • Minor premise: Jesse Owens was an Olympic runner.

  • Conclusion: Therefore, Jesse Owens was fast.

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The Declaration of Independence about the need for V-chips in television sets?

  • Major premise: Tyrannical rulers deserve no loyalty;

  • Minor premise: King George III is a tyrannical ruler

  • Conclusion: Therefore, King George III deserves no loyalty.

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Syllogisms about the need for V-chips in television sets?

  • When the conclusion follows logically from the major and minor premises, then the argument is said to be valid.

  • Example of an invalid premise

    • Major premise: All dogs are animals

    • Minor premise: All cats are animals

    • Conclusion: All dogs are cats

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Using Inductive Arguments about the need for V-chips in television sets?

  • Move from specific examples or facts to a general conclusion.

  • The process involves:

    • A question to be answered

    • Evidence gathered

    • Conclusion (reached by inference (or inductive leap) that answers the question and takes the evidence into account).

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Inductive Reasoning about the need for V-chips in television sets?

  • Question: How did that living room window get broken?

  • Evidence: baseball on floor; baseball not there this morning; children were playing baseball in the front yard earlier; they stopped playing abruptly a little while ago; the children have gone home.

  • Conclusion: one of the children hit or threw the baseball through the window, and then they all ran away.

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Toulmin Logic about the need for V-chips in television sets?

  • This is an effort to describe argument as it actually occurs in everyday life.

  • The CLAIM is the main point of the essay; it is usually stated as the thesis.

  • The GROUNDS is the material a writer uses to support the claim (evidence)

  • The WARRANT is the inference that connects the grounds to the claim; it can be a belief that is taken for granted, or an assumptions that underlies the argument.

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Toulmin Logic about the need for V-chips in television sets?

  • Claim: King George III deserves no loyalty.

  • Grounds: King George III is a tyrannical ruler (supported by facts and examples)

  • Warrant: Tyrannical rulers deserve no loyalty.

  • The clearer your warrant, the more likely readers will be to agree with it.

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Logical Fallacies: Begging the Question about the need for V-chips in television sets?

  • Assumes in the premise what the arguer should be trying to prove in the conclusion.

    • “The unfair and shortsighted legislation that limits free trade is clearly a threat to the American economy.”

      • Restrictions may or may not be unfair and shortsighted, but emotionally loaded language does not constitute proof. The statement begs the question because it assumes what it should be proving – that restrictive legislation is dangerous.

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Argument from Analogy about the need for V-chips in television sets?

  • An analogy explains something unfamiliar by comparing it to something more familiar.

  • An argument based on an analogy frequently ignores important dissimilarities between the two things; when this happens, the argument is fallacious.

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Personal Attack ( about the need for V-chips in television sets?Ad Hominem)

  • This fallacy tries to divert attention from the facts by attacking the motives or character of the person making the argument.

    • The public should not take seriously Dr. Mason’s plan for upgrading county health services. He is a recovering alcoholic whose second wife recently divorced him.

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Other fallacies about the need for V-chips in television sets?

  • See list and descriptions on pages 542-43

  • False Dilemma,

  • Equivocation,

  • Red Herring,

  • You also (Tu Quoque)

  • Appeal to Doubtful Authority,

  • Misleading Statistics,

  • Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc (After This, Therefore Because of That)

  • Non Sequitur (It Does Not Follow)

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Transitions and Checklist about the need for V-chips in television sets?

  • See transitions checklist on page 544

  • See revisions checklist on page 546

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IN-CLASS WRITING ASSIGNMENT about the need for V-chips in television sets?

  • Look at the newspaper ad from the ACLU on page 555, arguing against the death penalty.

  • What points does the ad’s headline make? Does the rest of the ad support the headline?


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