Arguing to Convince: Focusing your argument
Once you have done some initial reading, you know some of the points that those involved in the arguments stop to argue. These stopping points (stases) become ways of focusing your argument.
For example, one can argue that gas taxes in US should be significantly higher.
Stasis questions: • Are fuel taxes in the US lower than in most other nations? • Would US citizens benefit in some ways from raising taxes? • Would US companies benefit in some ways from the increased taxes? • Would the US government use the increased tax revenues to develop new energy sources? • Would raising the gas taxes cause more harm than good?
No • People on fixed incomes will have less money to spend on other needs if they have to spend more on fuel; the tax is very regressive, hurting the poorest people the most. • Consumers will pay more for everything, including food, since shipping will cost more and companies will pass this on to consumers. • Demand for the higher priced products will decrease, hurting all kinds of companies. • Fuel-efficient cars cost more, further disadvantaging the poor. • Consumers are not likely to benefit directly from this tax increase. • Other taxes will not go down comparably.
Yes • Higher fuel taxes will cause the overall cost of gas to go up, encouraging drivers to reduce consumption, decreasing pollution and lessening our reliance on foreign oil. • Higher fuel taxes mean more of what we pay in fuel will go to the US government for government services rather than to foreign countries. • Higher fuel taxes will spur growth and entrepreneurship as companies offer more fuel-efficient and/or more locally sourced products. • Mass-transit will become a viable alternative for many—reducing traffic congestion and removing the need to build new roads and bridges. Cities will have to spend money on the mass transit systems but they will save money on other infrastructure projects. • People will walk or ride bikes when running some errands, leading to a healthier lifestyle. • The government will use the extra tax money to improve infrastructure.
Think about your audience • What are the opinions of those that differ from me? • Why do they hold these opinions? • What common ground do I hold with those who differ: common goals, values, beliefs, or some shared reasoning? • What exactly do I need to change in their viewpoint and what is possible to change?
Decide on a thesis that focuses on one or two of these arguments you brainstormed and that might appeal to your audience’s values or to common ground you share
Decide on a thesis that focuses on one or two of these arguments you brainstormed and that might appeal to your audience’s values or to common ground you share: • Increasing regressive fuel taxes will hurt consumers by increasing the cost of many of their daily necessities. • Higher fuel taxes will help US citizens by encouraging healthy, sustainable life styles.
Class Ex— Go through process and decide on audience. Possible topics • Required standardized testing in public schools • Facebook and other social media and their effect on school work or social life • Drinking age in US • Freshmen permitted to have cars on campus