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Argumentative and Persuasive Writing. The Basics of Argumentative Writing. What is an Argument?. When you write an argument, you are trying to convince a reader to agree with you on a topic open for debate. Arguments are supported by… Factual data Logic Evidence, reasons, and examples

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argumentative and persuasive writing

Argumentative and Persuasive Writing

The Basics of Argumentative Writing

what is an argument
What is an Argument?
  • When you write an argument, you are trying to convince a reader to agree with you on a topic open for debate.
    • Arguments are supported by…
      • Factual data
      • Logic
      • Evidence, reasons, and examples
  • Persuasive writing is the broader umbrella under which argumentative writing falls:
    • Advertisements
    • Letters to editors
    • Speeches
    • And formal written arguments
arguments and critical thinking
Arguments and Critical Thinking
  • Why is the ability to think critically important in writing an argument?
    • Because writing and defending a position is an intellectual process. Because before you begin writing, you must critically examine all sides of an issue.
    • Written arguments are therefore constructive. They set up a debatable position rationally.
choosing a topic for discussion
Choosing a topic for discussion
  • Determine your purpose
    • Position arguments
      • Make a claim about controversial issues
      • Define the issue
      • Take a clear position
      • Make a compelling argument
      • Give sufficient attention to opposing views
    • Proposal arguments
      • Propose a course of action for a clearly stated problem
      • Define the problem
      • Propose solutions
      • Explain the merits of the solution
choose an arguable topic
Choose an arguable topic
  • An arguable topic is open for debate, that is there are at least two sides to the issue.
    • In order to determine whether a topic is arguable…
      • Begin with a fact
        • Students at Valencia Community College are required to take Student Success.
      • Isolate the two viewpoints on the issue
        • Students at Valencia Community College should not be required to take Student Success.
        • Students at Valencia Community College should be required to take Student Success.
audience
Audience
  • When writing an argument, it is important that you consider the degree of agreement you can expect from your audience.
  • The more emotionally charged a topic is, the greater the chance that the position argued will generate strong disagreement or agreement from your audience.
making a claim
Making a Claim
  • A claim is a statement that expresses a point of view on a debatable topic.
    • Claims are supported by reasons, evidence, and examples. This support is also know as a premise.
    • Claims must have two or more supporting reasons
    • Claims must be specific and contestable (there must be another side)
warrants and inferences
Warrants and Inferences
  • Valid claims contain warrants, or underlying assumptions that are implied, not stated. The reader infers the assumptions.
    • Inference- A conclusion arrived at from facts and by reasoning.

Example: If you arrived at a gathering of friends and one of them was sitting in front of a decorated cake and blowing out candles, you would make the inference that it was a birthday celebration and the person celebrating the birthday was the one blowing out the candles.

an arguable claim
An Arguable Claim…
  • Claim: Even though there may be a deceiver of some sort, very powerful and very tricky, who bends all his efforts to keep me perpetually deceived, there can be no slightest doubt that I exist, since he deceives me; and let him deceive me as much as he will, he can never make me be nothing as long as I think I am something. Thus, after having thought well on this matter, and after examining all things with care, I must finally conclude and maintain that this proposition: I am, I exist, is necessarily true every time that I pronounce it or conceive it in my mind.

-- René Descartes, Meditations

  • Claim 1, Premise 1: To be deceived, I must exist
  • Conclusion of Argument 1: Knowing this, being aware of this ensures that I will never doubt my existence.
  • Claim 2 , Premise 1: Therefore, after examining the facts and coming to the previous conclusion, I know I exist.
  • Conclusion: I think therefore I am. I exist every time I think I exist.

* Source: Perdue Online Writing Lab

take a look at the following claim and infer possible warrants
Take a look at the following claim and infer possible warrants…
  • Parking is scarce at this college. Therefore the college should build more parking lots.
    • Warrant: Parking is an issue that affects everyone in the college community.
    • Warrant: If the college wants to keep its students, faculty, and staff happy, it should provide more parking.
    • Warrant: The college is not doing enough to alleviate the problem of parking on campus.
avoiding logical fallacies
Avoiding Logical Fallacies
  • Logical fallacies are flaws in reasoning that lead to illogical statements. Logical fallacies attempt to appeal to emotion alone.
  • The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
false dilemma the either or fallacy
False Dilemma (the either-or fallacy)

Offers only two alternatives when more exist.

Examples:

i) Either you're for me or against me.(ii) America: love it or leave it.(iii) “Yeah, but if I don’t pass math, there goes my chance at a good career and a happy life, like you always say.”

--George Michael Bluth, Arrested Development

(iv) Every person is either wholly good or wholly evil.

appeal to ignorance
Appeal to ignorance

Arguments of this form assume that since something has not been proven false, it is therefore true. Conversely, such an argument may assume that since something has not been proven true, it is therefore false.

Examples:

(i) Because it hasn’t been proven that eating food X does not cause cancer, we can assume it does.

(ii) Since scientists cannot prove that global warming will occur, it probably won't.

false cause post hoc
False Cause (post hoc)
  • A false cause assumes that because two events are related in time, the first cause the second.
    • Literally “after this, therefore because of this”

Examples

(i) Immigration to Alberta from Ontario increased. Soon after, the welfare rolls increased. Therefore, the increased immigration caused the increased welfare rolls.

(ii) I took EZ-No-Cold, and two days later, my colddisappeared.

hasty generalization
Hasty Generalization
  • Drawing conclusions from inadequate evidence.

Examples:

(i) Fred, the Australian, stole my wallet. Thus, all Australians are thieves. (Of course, we shouldn't judge all Australians on the basis of one example.)

(ii) I asked six of my friends what they thought of the new spending restraints and they agreed it is a good idea. The new restraints are therefore generally popular.

begging the question
Begging the Question
  • Also known as circular reasoning. Offering proof by simply using another version of the argument itself.
  • Examples:
  • Since I'm not lying, it follows that I'm telling the truth.
  • Wrestling is a dangerous sport because it is hazardous.
argument to the person and guilt by association
Argument to the Person and Guilt by Association
  • Argument to the person means attacking the person making the argument rather than their position.

Example:

  • You may argue that God doesn't exist, but you are just following a fad.
  • Guilt by association means that the person’s arguments, ideas, or opinions lack merit because of that person’s activities, interests, or companions.

Example:

  • We should disregard Share B.C.'s argument because they are being funded by the logging industry.
non sequitur
Non Sequitur
  • An irrelevant argument reaches a conclusion that doesn’t follow from the premises.
  • Example:
  • Jane Jones is a forceful speaker, so she’ll make a good mayor.
  • If the mill were polluting the river then we would see an increase in fish deaths. And fish deaths have increased. Thus, the mill is polluting the river.
false or irrelevant authority
False or irrelevant Authority
  • Citing the opinion of someone who has no expertise in the subject at hand.
  • Example:
  • Noted psychologist Dr. Frasier Crane recommends that you buy the EZ-Rest Hot Tub.
  • My friend heard on the news the other day that Canada will declare war on Serbia.