Historical Argument. October 3, 2013. Argument. An argument is an attempt to establish the truth of a claim. An argument often includes premises, or supporting arguments. Arguments and Explanations.
October 3, 2013
An argument is an attempt to establish the truth of a claim.
An argument often includes premises, or supporting arguments.
Arguments differ from explanations. Arguments attempt to establish the truth of some claim.
Explanations assume the truth of a claim, and merely try to show how it came about, what caused it, how it works, etc..
Argument: Rover has fleas. He’s been scratching all day.
(will try to prove that Rover has fleas)
Explanation: Rover has fleas. The neighbor’s dog has fleas, and he’s been playing with him all morning.
(assumes the fleas and explains why)
Independent premises are premises that do not rely on each other as support for the conclusion.
If the assumption that a premise is false does not cancel the support another premise provides for the conclusion, the premises are independent.
Textbooks tend to have independent premises.
Dependent premises are premises that depend on one another as support for their conclusion.
If the assumption that a premise is false cancels the support another provides for the conclusion, the premises are dependent.
Example: [Premise] Raising the speed limit will wear out the highways faster. [Premise] In addition, doing so will result in more highway deaths. [Main Argument] Therefore, we should not raise the speed limit.
You can view it as two separate arguments with the same conclusion.
Example: [Premise] Raising the speed limit will waste gas. [Premise] We don’t have any gas to waste. Therefore, [Main Argument] we should not raise the speed limit.
•While identifying premises can often help students identify an argument,
•and Explanations can often serve as premises,
• Both premises and main arguments are sometimes unstated, particularly in textbooks.
•So, how do we help students identify and understand the argument?
For Main Arguments
In view of…
It follows that...
We may conclude that...
This serves to show that...
This suggests that...
This proves that..
This shows that...
This implies that…
There is no magic bullet.
The only real way to help kids identify the argument is to practice.
Primary sources are often easier in this regard than textbooks, which tend to obscure their arguments under a cloak of neutrality and balance.
Read a sentence. Is it a fact? An explanation? A clear opinion/interpretation/argument? Label the sentence in the margin (F, E, A).
Read the next sentence, etc.
Go back and look at explanations and arguments. Which ones serve as premises for another (main) argument? Label those with a P. What is that main argument?
Is the argument explicit or implicit? If it’s implicit, summarize it in the margin.
Identify the main argument in each paragraph.
Does the main argument of one paragraph serve as a premise for the main argument of another?
Which paragraph(s) contain the main argument the author of the source is trying to make?
**Note: There will probably be some debate about all of this. That’s as much a part of the intellectual process as anything. Just make the kids justify their answers.
Read and discuss the section heading. Discuss what the heading is asking the reader to look for. Note that headings often contain implicit arguments.
Go through the same process as with a primary source.
Textbook paragraphs are more likely to serve as explanations to an implicit argument (often indicated by the heading) than paragraphs in other sources.
However, this is complicated by the fact that textbooks often just stick in information that needs to be covered and that doesn’t clearly tie in with any argument.
The octopus of war grips and strangles the world…
India adopted a British-style parliamentary system, with democratic rights guaranteed for all…
Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences. CCRA R.1
Analyze the structure of texts. CCRA R.5
Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text. CCRA R.8