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Identifying Underlying Arguments and Assumptions

Identifying Underlying Arguments and Assumptions

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Identifying Underlying Arguments and Assumptions

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  1. Identifying Underlying Arguments and Assumptions Week 9

  2. Class Overview • Upcoming course schedule • BA5 Directions • Identifying Underlying Arguments and Assumptions

  3. Upcoming assignments and events • Tuesday, March 26th – BA5 • Tuesday, April 2nd – No assignment due! • Tuesday, April 9th – Draft 2.1: Researched Argument

  4. BA5 Directions Purpose of this assignment: In order to write an effective argument, you need to know what an effective argument does or doesn't look like. This assignment will help you demonstrate your ability to analyze how an argument is put together, how it presents support for itself—in other words, you'll be analyzing its "theoretical framework.“ Word count: 600-800 words

  5. Structure for BA5 Your BA5 will only have 5 (FIVE) paragraphs: no more, no less.

  6. Structure for BA5 Paragraph 1: Introduction Identify which essay you're analyzing, give a very brief summary of its topic, and identify who the primary audience of the essay is. Provide a thesis that sums up whether your analysis will reveal it as a strong or a weak argument and why. Pro tip: there is no such thing as a “general audience.”

  7. Structure for BA5 Paragraph 2: Argument Structure Describe the way the argument is arranged; that is, identify its “theoretical framework.” This means you tell us what the claim is and what reasons are used to support that claim. Pro tip: do not focus on rhetorical devices/choices.

  8. Structure for BA5 Paragraph 3: Evidence and Descriptive Assumptions Describe the types of evidence used and discuss why that evidence would be seen as strong or weak given who the audience of the essay is (remember, there is no such thing as a general audience). Point out any descriptive assumptions made – these are assumptions that evidence actually proves the reason it’s meant to support – and evaluate whether these assumptions are acceptable or not and why. Do they weaken the argument? How much or how little?

  9. Structure for BA5 Paragraph 4: Value Assumptions Identify and evaluate any value assumptions in the essay by identifying the values that the author reveals and determining whether the audience likely shares those values and whether that matters to the argument (again, there is no such thing as a general audience). How much is the argument hurt or strengthened by the value assumptions you find?

  10. Structure for BA5 Paragraph 5: Conclusion Wrap up by restating your thesis and main points and providing an overall evaluation of the strength of the argument.

  11. Texts for BA5 Choose one of the following: • “Science and Technology in World Agriculture: Narratives and Discourses” by Pasquale Scandizzo, pages 382–388 • “Till Children Do Us Part,” by Stephanie Coontz, pages 267–269 • “Kant or Cant: The Myth of the Democratic Peace,” by Christopher Layne, pages 313–331

  12. Analyzing the effectiveness of an argument

  13. Paragraph 1: Introduction Identify which essay you're analyzing, give a very brief summary of its topic, and identify who the primary audience of the essay is. Provide a thesis that sums up whether your analysis will reveal it as a strong or a weak argument and why. Pro tip: there is no such thing as a “general audience.”

  14. Identifying an audience • There is no such thing as a “general audience.” • What specific group is the writer trying to reach? • What about this topic might interest a particular group of readers? • Will each member of this audience agree with what the author has to say?

  15. Paragraph 2: Describe the way the argument is arranged; that is, identify its “theoretical framework.” This means you tell us what the claim is and what reasons/evidence are used to support that claim. Pro tip: do not focus on rhetorical devices/choices.

  16. Identifying the theoretical framework • What is the claim? • What kind of evidence does the author use to make his/her point? • How effective is this evidence? Why?

  17. In class writing: In 4-6 sentences, analyze and identify the theoretical framework of this argument. Only recently has diversity and affirmative action been made an issue of national policy. And then, only as a weapon used against Whites. Is it any wonder that so many of our youth lack energy, staring with a vacant gaze into a flickering television screen? They have been bombarded with constant propaganda telling them that White people have oppressed and persecuted minorities, that Whites are all things bad and evil. They don't hear about the great scientists and explorers, the brilliant authors, the hard working inventors that made possible the world of today! The technology we enjoy is almost entirely due to the efforts of White scientists and inventors. And, if we permit our race to fail, the world will descend into a primitive barbarism that can scarcely be imagined.

  18. Paragraph 3: Evidence and Descriptive Assumptions Describe the types of evidence used and discuss why that evidence would be seen as strong or weak given who the audience of the essay is (remember, there is no such thing as a general audience). Point out any descriptive assumptions made – these are assumptions that evidence actually proves the reason it’s meant to support – and evaluate whether these assumptions are acceptable or not and why. Do they weaken the argument? How much or how little?

  19. What is an assumption?

  20. What is an assumption? • An assumption is an unstated belief that supports the author’s reasoning. Assumptions are not stated. Consequently, you have to figure out what the assumptions are that the communicator is using in the argument, even though these assumptions are not given.

  21. What are“descriptive assumptions”? • Unstated beliefs about the way the was, is, or will be. • The author is not assuming anything about what is more important or of more value. • “It is what it is.”

  22. You will be happy with your Internet access if you sign up with Comcast. They are the world’s largest ISP with over 12 million subscribers.

  23. You will be happy with your Internet access if you sign up with Comcast. They are the world’s largest ISP with over 12 million subscribers. Descriptive assumption: The biggest is always the best. Comcast is the largest ISP. Number of subscribers indicates quality of service. You will be happy With Comcast +

  24. Sometimes, descriptive assumptions can be logical fallacies. The students care more about their education because they are paying for it. Descriptive assumption: Paying for education increases the level of interest in one’s education.

  25. Descriptive assumptions are not always logical fallacies, though. Mr. Ryan is a teacher, so he cares about his students. Descriptive assumption: Teachers usually care about their students because teachers are responsible for educating students.

  26. In-class writing: identify the descriptive assumption of this statement. All high-school English classes will go see at least one Shakespeare play because then they will understand the plays better.

  27. Let’s recap paragraph 3 of BA5 Describe the types of evidence used and discuss why that evidence would be seen as strong or weak given who the audience of the essay is (remember, there is no such thing as a general audience). Point out any descriptive assumptions made – these are assumptions that evidence actually proves the reason it’s meant to support – and evaluate whether these assumptions are acceptable or not and why. Do they weaken the argument? How much or how little?

  28. Paragraph 4 Identify and evaluate any value assumptions in the essay by identifying the values that the author reveals and determining whether the audience likely shares those values and whether that matters to the argument (again, there is no such thing as a general audience). How much is the argument hurt or strengthened by the value assumptions you find?

  29. What are value assumptions? • Unstated beliefs about the way the world SHOULD be. • A value assumption is an unstated preference for one value over another in a particular context. You can use “value preference” and “value assumption” interchangeably. • Competition vs. cooperation, freedom of press vs. national security,

  30. Examples of value assumptions. Argument 1: I don’t think that the government should strictly enforce gun control. Value assumption 1: The author favors personal freedom over public safety. Argument 2: The government needs to enforce gun control more strictly. Value assumption 2: The author favors public safety more than personal freedom.

  31. Examples of Value Assumptions Argument 1: The government should not allow abortions. Value Assumption 1: The author favors the right to life and government control over personal freedom. Argument 2: If someone wants to have an abortion, then that is their choice. Value Assumption 2: The author favors personal freedom over the right to life and government control.

  32. In-class writing assignment: Come up with your own argument like the ones we just looked at with gun control and abortion. Identify both sides of the debate and the value assumptions that are associated with each argument.

  33. In-class writing. Identify the descriptive assumption and value assumption of this argument. Trials and executions should be televised-the public has the right to know what’s going on in our courts. Information about the judicial system needs to be more widely disseminated. Hint: The value assumption here has nothing to do with validity of the death penalty itself.

  34. Trials and executions should be televised-the public has the right to know what’s going on in our courts. Information about the judicial system needs to be more widely disseminated. Descriptive assumption: Televising the trials and executions would inform the public about the judicial system. Value assumption: In this context, the author favors freedom of information over government secrecy.