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Arguments: Claims and evidence

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Presentation on theme: "Arguments: Claims and evidence"— Presentation transcript:

1 Arguments: Claims and evidence
Facts, reason, and evidence

2 Everything is rhetorical Everything is an argument
Rhetoric and Argument Rhetoric = how something is said art of persuasive communication Argument = what is said claims followed by evidence that lead to a conclusion. Everything is rhetorical AND Everything is an argument

3 Thesis + Support Your thesis (your main point) should be supported by evidence that is appropriate to your audience. Your point needs the best support possible, otherwise it will topple over.

4 The basics

5 Claim + Evidence In an argument, each claim or statement should be backed up by some sort of evidence. These claims+evidence become part of the more comprehensive support for your argument. Evidence can be categorized into two types: found evidence and invented evidence. Found evidence is usually used as a logical appeal, but all types of evidence can be used to appeal to either logos, ethos or pathos.

6 Means of support Invented Evidence (Rational Appeals)
Anecdote Analogy/Comparison Consequences/Effects Contrasts Categories/Models Found Evidence (Hard Evidence) Facts Statistics Questionnaires/Polls Testimonies and Interviews Experiments Precedent (formal) “Textual” Evidence (text, image, sound) Just remember, in an argument, the writer can use any of these as logical, ethical and/or emotional appeals.

7 Application The easiest way to think about how to apply this in your own writing is to consider each paragraph its own claim+evidence delivery device. Each paragraph should rely on one primary strategy to add support for a thesis by doing the following: Connect the claim+evidence to the thesis, usually through metadiscourse. Clearly stating the claim. Provide evidence that is appropriate to the rhetorical situation (writer, purpose, audience). The means of support

8 What types of evidence do you see?
Take 5 minutes to read Duncan Geere’s review of Minecraft for Wired UK What types of evidence does Geere use to support his claim that the game is “good”? (If you want to know a bit more about Minecraft, might I suggest the Kids React To video)

9 Advanced Argument

10 Argument via syllogism
In an argument, you base a claim+evidence on certain premises. If these premises are universally true or are comprehensively connected, then it is a syllogism

11 Everything’s an Argument Enthymeme
If premises in an argument are only probable, then you have an enthymeme. Enthymemes are arguments that blend claims+evidence together based on the following: Probability – there is probable but not universal precedence or likelihood that claim and evidence are connected. Audience assumptions – the writer assumes the audience will agree with the premise, claim or evidence.

12 Argument via enthymemes
Corporations want to make a profit more than they want to do good Corporations will take what they want in order to make a profit Corporations are bad

13 Enthymemes Most arguments rely on enthymemes rather than syllogisms because stating/restating every universalism would be boring to read and not really necessary for intended audiences. Let’s look at some claims from Duncan Geere’s Minecraft review for Wired UK: To read an argument via enthymemes, ask: Why aren’t the premises revealed? What is the probability that this is true/known given the intended audience? Is it an effective argument?

14 Enthymemes (Minecraft review)
“The blocky representations of sheep and pigs are far cuter than a real sheep would be, and the zombies are more scary.” “there's a bit too much forced wandering around, hunting for scarce resources, to reach the endgame.” “it'd be unfair not to mention Minecraft's incredible piano soundtrack, created by German electronic musician C418. Most of the time, you won't hear it, you'll just hear the game's ambience—moos, lava fizzles and the steady thud-thud-thud of a block being broken. Occasionally, though, just as you're sailing along a broken coast, or climbing a hill at sunset, or returning to the surface after a tough day down your mine, the twinkly piano will kick in and there's no feeling like it.”

15 Arguments: Warrants and qualifiers
Toulmin and beyond

16 Claims + evidence A thesis needs support, and this support comes from claims and evidence. Claims need to be controversial and debatable for them to be useful in an argument Controversial – there is disagreement (“12 inches makes a foot” is not controversial) Debatable – there can be differing viewpoints (“I love ice cream!” is not debatable) Claims also need to be explicitly stated for most audiences.

17 Warrants Claims and evidence have warrants – the assumptions or basis for your argument. These are usually unstated (Remember the enthymemes?) Warrants sometimes need to be stated when certain audiences might be particularly unfamiliar or unreceptive to your claims/evidence.

18 Overweight people should exercise more
Examples Overweight people should exercise more Variations of syllogisms of this enthymeme: If you are overweight, you will not attract a lover (warrant = want to attract a lover) Exercise will help you lose weight (warrant = unless you have an illness or medical disposition towards weight gain) Exercising will help you attract a lover Overweight people live shorter lives (warrant = you want to live longer) Exercise increases the body’s resilience to disease (warrant = unless you have another medical condition that makes you susceptible to disease) Exercise counteracts being overweight, thus helping you live longer Exercising will help you lose weight (warrant = you want to lose weight) Riding a bike is exercise (warrant = you are physically able to ride a bike) Riding a bike will help you lose weight

19 Of note Notice that most of the warrants are things that you might not have thought about unless you had considered the full syllogism of the claims and evidence. Also, notice that by uncovering these syllogisms and their associated warrants, you may consider your argument differently.

20 So now I have to write out syllogisms…
There are two easy strategies to get at your warrants and find some potentially problematic issues with your argument without going to all the work of writing out syllogisms: Contrary Position – consider a contrary position of a claim or evidence Contrary claim: People should not exercise more (“Since I sell diet pills, exercising effects the number of pills I sell, so don’t exercise more.”) Alternative Assumptions – imagine differing contexts or situations in which the claim or evidence would need to be known. Alt. assumption: Readers of Runner’s World should not exercise more. (“They are exercising enough as is”) Alt. assumption: People should exercise more because it is good for the exercise equipment industry. (“external impact from an individual activity”)

21 Qualifiers We cannot roundup, manage, control, or otherwise articulate all assumptions and warrants because we would never get to our main point – SO – we have Qualifiers: Few More or less Often It is possible In some cases Perhaps Rarely Many Sometimes It seems In the main Possibly Some Routinely For the most part It may be Most If it were so One might argue Under these circumstances Modals (should, would, could, might)

22 Counterarguments To persuade those who haven’t made up their mind (and even those who have), it is important to demonstrate to your audience that you understand and have considered both sides of an issue. For this reason, it is important to introduce the opposition and write about the ways in which its arguments are based on false assumptions, fallacies in logic, or errors in judgment. There are many strategies for writing a counterargument into your work, so picking the right strategy relies on properly reading the rhetorical situation.

23 Effective arguments Claims should be stated clearly and qualified carefully. Claims should be supported with evidence and good reasons. Claims and reasons should be based on assumptions readers will likely accept. Effective arguments respectfully anticipate objections readers might offer.

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