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Evaluating an Author’s Argument
© 2008 McGraw-Hill Higher Education Chapter 11: Evaluating an Author's Argument 2 Author’s Argument An author’s argument is the opinion or belief that he or she wants to persuade readers to believe.
© 2008 McGraw-Hill Higher Education Chapter 11: Evaluating an Author's Argument 3 Determine the Author’s Argument The author’s argument is his or her point of view on an issue. Ask yourself, “What is the author’s position on the issue?”
© 2008 McGraw-Hill Higher Education Chapter 11: Evaluating an Author's Argument 4 Step 1: Identify the Author’s Assumptions An author’s assumptions consist of things the author takes for granted without presenting any proof (in other words, what the author believes or accepts as true and bases the argument on). Ask yourself, “What does the author take for granted?” If the author’s assumptions are illogical or incorrect, the entire argument will be flawed. Readers may be misled unless they identify the author’s assumptions.
© 2008 McGraw-Hill Higher Education Chapter 11: Evaluating an Author's Argument 5 Step 2: Identify the Types of Support Types of support refers to the kind of evidence the author uses to back up the argument. Ask yourself, “What kind of support does the author present to back the argument?” Support can include research findings, case studies, examples, facts, comparisons, expert testimony and opinions from experts.
© 2008 McGraw-Hill Higher Education Chapter 11: Evaluating an Author's Argument 6 Step 3: Determine the Relevance of the Support Relevance means the support is directly related to the argument. Ask yourself, “Is the support directly related to the argument?” Unless the author is an expert, his or her opinion or personal experience may not be particularly relevant.
© 2008 McGraw-Hill Higher Education Chapter 11: Evaluating an Author's Argument 7 Step 4: Determine the Author’s Objectivity The author’s argument has objectivity when the support consists of facts and other clear evidence. Objective – Independent of an individual’s conceptions or beliefs. Ask yourself, “Does the author present facts and clear evidence as support?”
© 2008 McGraw-Hill Higher Education Chapter 11: Evaluating an Author's Argument 8 Step 5: Determine the Argument’s Completeness An argument is complete if the author presents adequate support and overcomes opposing points. Sometimes authors do not give enough support. Sometimes they leave out information that would weaken their argument. Their argument would be stronger if they presented it and countered it.
© 2008 McGraw-Hill Higher Education Chapter 11: Evaluating an Author's Argument 9 Step 6: Determine if the Argument Is Valid An argument is valid (has validity) if it is logical. Ask yourself, “Is the argument logical (well-reasoned)?”
© 2008 McGraw-Hill Higher Education Chapter 11: Evaluating an Author's Argument 10 Step 7: Decide if the Argument Is Credible An argument has credibility if it is believable (convincing). Ask yourself, “Is the author’s argument believable?” Validity and credibility are closely related since an argument that is not valid will not be credible.
© 2008 McGraw-Hill Higher Education Chapter 11: Evaluating an Author's Argument 11 Pointers: Don’t become overwhelmed because there are several steps in evaluating an author’s argument. Watch out for your own biases when you evaluate an author’s argument. Authors do not have to prove conclusively that their argument is correct. After all, not everything can be proved. They must, however, present an argument that is well-reasoned and well-supported.
© 2008 McGraw-Hill Higher Education Chapter 11: Evaluating an Author's Argument 12 Pointers, cont. There are several ways authors try to manipulate readers into buying their argument. These are called propaganda techniques. After you have read an author’s argument, go back through it. Mark the argument and each piece of support.
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