Intro to Evaluative Arguments

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# Intro to Evaluative Arguments - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

Intro to Evaluative Arguments. Stasis Theory: Part II. Toulmin Arguments . The Toulmin system is a way of schematizing your arguments. It helps you to think through the assumptions underlying your assertions. Enthymemes .

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### Intro to Evaluative Arguments

Stasis Theory: Part II

Toulmin Arguments

The Toulmin system is a way of schematizing your arguments. It helps you to think through the assumptions underlying your assertions.

Enthymemes

The heart of the Toulmin argument is the enthymeme. This is a sentence comprised of a claim and a reason.

EX: “Superman is a good superhero because he is very strong.”

Claim = Superman is a good superhero

Reason = because he is very strong.

Supporting Components of Toulmin Arguments : Grounds
• An enthymeme (claims + reason) is supported by grounds.
• Grounds are the evidence behind the generalization in the reason.
• In the Superman example, the reason was, “because he is very strong.” The grounds would be, “he was able to pick up automobiles when he was a toddler”
Supporting Components of Toulmin Arguments : Warrant
• The warrant is the assumption that underlies your enthymeme. In a sense, it is the logical bridge between the claim & the reason
• In the Superman example, “Superman is a good superhero because he is very strong,” the assumption (warrant) underlying the argument is that “good superheroes are very strong”.
Supporting Components of Toulmin Arguments : Backing
• The backing is the explanation or justification of the warrant. This is a good point in your thinking at which to be self-critical: does your warrant in fact make sense?
• For example, the backing behind the assumption (warrant) that good superheroes are very strong is that “famous superheroes are very strong – such as Spiderman, the Incredible Hulk, and so on.”
• However, a critic could point out that Batman and Inspector Gadget are superheroes, but mainly by virtue of their hardware, not their strength.
Toulmin Arguments: Revision
• After having examined the backing behind the warrant that subsudizes my argument (enthymeme), it is obvious that I need to re-think my reason.
• At this stage, I might say that “Superman is a good superhero because he uses his powers to help people.” Now my grounds, backing & warrant have changed, so I would need to examine them anew.
X & Y
• Synonymous with the terms “genus” & “species”
• X is the individual case; Y is the larger group to which X does (or does not) belong.
• This is applicable to both definitional and evaluative arguments
X & Y Continued
• The Oxford English Dictionary is the most authoritative dictionary in the English language
• X = The OED; Y = authoritative English language dictionaries
• This pinot noir is an excellent wine
• X = this pinot noir; Y= excellent wines
Definitional vs Evaluative Arguments
• The “X is or is not a Y” format is very similar for both definitional and evaluative arguments
• The distinction is that definitional arguments merely claim that X is a Y; evaluative arguments examine whether or not X is a good, efficient, effective, attractive or potent (to name a few possibilities) Y
Definitional vs Evaluative Arguments - Criteria
• Like definitional arguments, evaluative arguments are focused on defining criteria for the “Y” term, and then evaluating the “X” according to those criteria.
• A 3-sentence summary of an evaluative paper:

- A good Y meets criteria A, B & C

- X meets the criteria A, B & C

- Therefore X is a good Y

• Unlike definitional arguments, evaluative arguments are often most controversial in their choice of criteria. Expect to defend your selections.
Standards for Criteria
• Criteria are often established according to what is normal OR according to what is ideal.
• Some situations lend themselves to different kinds of criteria – be self-aware about your selection. In formulating a mission statement, you want to be ideal. In suggesting drug treatment methods, it may be imperative to consider what is normal.
Mitigating Circumstances & Cost
• Be aware that, if you argue for mitigating circumstances in your criteria, you will have a harder sell. (“I shot John Lennon because I hated my father”)
• Keep in mind the issue of cost (in time, money, spirit, &c.); the most superlative X is useless if it is too expensive, hard-to-use, time-consuming, &c.
• Determine the most suitable Y category for your X.
• Choose the smallest possible Y (within reason).
• “Amazon.com is the best website” is less informative that “Amazon.com is the best on-line bookstore.”
Building Your Evaluative Argument – 2) Choosing criteria
• Select your criteria by considering the function of your Y term.
• What is it supposed to do? “Granny Smiths are the best baking apples” – Baking apples should stay firm when cooked and not become cloyingly sweet
• “Arabella is the best candidate for this engineering internship” - A good engineering intern should be skilled with computers and capable of following highly detailed directions.
Building Your Evaluative Argument – 3 & 4
• 3 – Use the Y term’s purpose to generate criteria
• 4 – Sort the criteria by importance
• You may want to assemble your criteria in you paper in order of increasing strength of argument & importance.
Building Your Evaluative Argument – Outline
• Introduce your issues & why evaluating X is problematic or controversial
• Summarize opppsing vies
• Refute or concede to opposing views