2 The Exploratory Process The best way to reinvigorate the skill of argumentation is to approach the reading and writing of arguments as exploration.We must position ourselves as inquirers AND persuaders.Engage thoughtfully with other points of view, and be willing to change our own views.
3 Finding Issues Brainstorming Interest Inventories Clustering FreewritingBe open to issues around you—newspapers, songs, bumper stickers, websites. Look at what is being argued!Look for your “hot spots”—things that engage you to agree, disagree, or create confusion.
4 More Strategies The Believe/Doubt Game The believer is wholly sympathetic to an idea. You absolutely accept it (for a time, at least) and identify why it is appealing, as well as identifying the reasons why people might believe it.This can be VERY uncomfortable if it is an idea you find false or threatening. But useful!The doubter is judgmental and critical—the opposite—you work to undermine the argument, finding counterexamples and inconsistencies that break the argument down.This can be uncomfortable if it is an idea that you already ascribe to. But ALSO useful.
5 Placing Texts in a Rhetorical Context Part of argument is knowing the CONTEXT of a given argument.Arguments made on Daily Kos (a liberal/extreme progressive site) are going to be different than Little Green Footballs (a conservative site)Policy Papers are different than reading Editorials on policy papers.Our arguments change with our audience, and knowing the context the argument was made in can help you effectively use your sources.
6 Genres of ArgumentGenre is a recurring pattern of argument or features, for our purposes.Political CartoonsLetters to the EditorAdvocacy Website HomepagesGenres have recurring elements that can be identified.Very easy to lose genre clues with web searches and databases. Be sure to trace the source back! Know where it comes from!See Handout!
7 Cultural Context Who Writes Arguments, and Why Do They Write Them? Democracy depends upon the exchange of ideas. We must consider authors when considering their arguments.Why did the writer compose the document? Motivation? What did they wish to see changed?
8 Immigration Arguments: Where do they come from? Lobbyists and advocacy groupsLegislators, Candidates, Gov. OfficialsBusiness Professionals, Labor Union Leaders, BankersLawyers, JudgesMedia Commentators/PunditsProfessional Writers/NewsThink TanksScholars/AcademicsIndependent/Commercial FilmmakersCitizens & Students
9 Questions to AskIn order to determine Rhetorical Context and Genre, ask the following:What is the genre of argument?Who is the author? What are their credentials?What is the intended audience?What motivated the writing?What was their purpose? Advocacy or truth seeking?What info about the publication or source helps explain their perspective?What is filtering their viewpoint? What lens are they viewing this issue through?
10 Reading to BelieveOnce context is established, try reading with the believe/doubt gameUse empathic listening (Carl Rogers)Requires that you see the world through the author’s eyes, temporarily adopting their beliefs and values, suspending your skepticism or biases.Then, shift to doubt and allow your inner critic to run free!
11 Summary as a Powerful Tool Also known as an abstract, precis, or synopsisPresent major points, omit the details.Length is variable, should be neutral. No arguments yet. Assists in your credibility.Two solid steps.
12 Step OneRead for general meaning. Don’t judge. Put objections aside. See from their perspective. Walk in their shoes.
13 Step TwoReread the article slowly, writing brief DOES and SAYS statements for each paragraph.A DOES statement identifies a paragraph’s function, such as “summarizes an opposing view,” “gives an example,” or “uses statistics to support the previous point.”A SAYS statements summarizes the paragraph’s content. Challenge is to identify main idea and translate into your words. Easier with higher-level writing, but still useful.
14 Example (Kavanaugh)Paragraph 1: Does: Uses a vivid example to introduce the injustice of the current treatment of illegal immigrants. Says: The U.S. government is separating productive, long-term illegal immigrants from their families, deporting them, exposing them to dangerous conditions, and threatening them with felony charges.
15 Dialectical ThinkingDerives from philosopher Georg Hegel, who proposed that each thesis prompts and opposing thesis (or, “antithesis”) and that the conflict between views can lead thinkers to a new claim: a “synthesis.”Pushes us toward new and better ideas.
16 Because it’s so hard to let go of an idea we are holding (or more to the point, an idea that’s holding us), our best hope for leverage in learning to doubt such ideas is to take on different ideas.-Peter Elbow
17 The Opposing ViewExpert Thinkers should actively seek out alternative views—not to destroy them, but to listen.You wouldn’t settle a divorce based on just the husband’s testimony. You have to hear both sides first. And maybe some additional viewpoints from interested parties, like kids or grandparents or family friends.
18 Sources of Disagreement Attempts to identify WHAT the disagreement derives from. Usually only two categories:Disagreement about FACTSDisagreement about UNDERLYING VALUES, BELIEFS, or ASSUMPTIONS.
19 Questions to Promote Dialectical Thinking 1. What would writer A say to writer B?2. After I read writer A, I thought _____; however, after I read writer B, my thinking on this issue had changed in these ways: _____.3. To what extent do writer A and writer B disagree about facts and interpretations of facts?4. To what extent do writer A and writer B disagree about underlying beliefs, assumptions, and values?5. Can I find any areas of agreement, including shared values and beliefs, between writer A and writer B?6. What new, significant questions do these texts raise for me?7. After I have wrestled with the ideas in these two texts, what are my current views on this issue?
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