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Parts of an Argument

Proposition – on small scale, a thesis statement. On a larger scale, perhaps the title of a book.

 Changes in scope and size depending on what you are dealing with.
 A small proposition can be called a claim. Thesis statements count.
o “The class Word Magic is intended to show the power of language”
o Subclaims exist too. E.g. topic sentences, subchapters in a book

Thesis Statement: 1. Controversial. Topic must be debatable 2. Clearly stated

Reasoning

 Why do you think this way? What ideas give you the right to think this way?

Evidence

 Facts, scientific observations, statistics


 Facts: must be able to see, hear, feel for something to be fact
o Can be description or report by people who have had first-hand experience.
o Statistics
o Artifacts
 Opinion of a fact
 Statistics
o Must show data collection method
o Cannot compare the incomparable
o Unrepresented groups

Evaluating Evidence

 Reliability
o Evidence proven multiple times to prove the source is reliable
 Background knowledge and expertise on the subject.
 Objectivity
 Consistency. Information of the same type comes from other sources too.
 Recency – evidence comes within multiple sources in the field, receives similar results.
 Relevance. Your focus must lead to your claim

Classification of Claims

 Factual claims
o Interpreting statistics, facts
 Ex. “Pluto is not a planet”
 Ex. “Antioxidants are good for your health”
 Ex. “Saxophone is an instrument”
 Ex. “Martel is not a college”
 Ex. “Jones has poorly maintained facilities”
 Value claims
o Emotion-based argument
o Anything that shows certain worth.
 ‘this method is more efficient than this’
 Ex. “Tea is better than coffee”
 Ex. “Being polite is the best way to advance your career”
 Ex. “Will Rice Cheats”
 Ex. “Cats make better pets than dogs”
 Policy claims
o ‘the government should pay attention to’
 Ex. “The government should provide more funding to the arts”
 Ex.

Claim Expression

 Implicit and explicit


 Explicit statements usually will have implicit ones implied within
o “We missed Stephen in class today.” Implied: “Wanted his input, etc”
 Emerging claim vs predetermined claim: emerges in conclusion or is placed up front.

Claim, Evidence, Reasoning

Reasoning

Involves making connections, predictions, distinctions. Move from familiar and known to the unfamiliar
and unknown. Break a whole into pieces and analyze the precise connection between the pieces.
Reasoning links Evidence and Claims.

 Six types
o Quasilogical. Dealing with two or three elements, relationships between them.
 Transitivity: if a = b and b = c, a = c. NOT ALWAYS TRUE
 Incompatibility: ‘I hate all people who generalize’
 Reciprocity: Students who follow the honor code are better students.
o Analogy
 Literal: comparing one object to another. “If it looks like a horse and it smells
like a horse, it’s probably a horse.
 Figurative: NOT used to prove a claim. Used to exemplify or make things
simpler. Think Mulcahy
o Generalization – apply the specific to the broader
o Cause – find the relationship of how one condition affects the others. Sometimes it
simply contributes (WEAK), sometimes it causes or guarantees the others (STRONG)
o Co-existential – When two or three elements coexist, one is observable and the other is
assumed to exist. “My gas light is on, I must need to refuel” – assumption that when the
light is on, gas is low. The two usually coexist.
o Dissociation – reassign roles to certain elements. “Ask not what your country can do for
you, ask what you can do for your country”

Techniques of Persuasion

Compliance

 The use of reward and punishment – to have the authority to do so. (professors, parents,
bosses, etc)
 No argumentation is necessary – you are told what to do and you comply.
 The boss will always seem more persuasive than colleagues. Your parents will be more
persuasive than random people.

Identification

 Attempt to identify with another person


 Desire to belong with the group, be it attractive people, intelligent, talented, sporty
 Used heavily in advertisement.
 NO ACTUAL PERSUASION TECHNIQUES HERE: JUST HUMAN PSYCHOLOGY

Internalization

 The power of your evidence and how you build/communicate your argument

Organization is an asset to increasing your argument’s power.

 Present argument explicitly – implicit encourages misunderstanding


 Should use 2nd strongest point first, weakest point second, most powerful point last.
 Use of a shock at beginning works too.
o Human psychology: will not remember middle parts!
 For weak evidence, either make it stronger or drop it completely. We remember the weak.
 When there is a counterargument, acknowledge it to be fairer. Cater to the audience.
 For evidence selection, use popular/respected sources for credibility

Levels of Abstraction

 You must explain the abstract concepts with very concrete examples.
o “When you put your hand on the stove for one minute, it feels like an hour. When you
sit next to a pretty girl for an hour, it feels like a minute.” – Einstein on relativity.
 Denotation and Connotation
o School teacher. Educator. Dictatorship, misery.
o Boss. Person in charge vs. dictator
o Career. Your job. Livelihood
o Night. The period after day.