Argument “Everything’s an Argument”
Argument in its best academic, scholarly, or journalistic sense is not the same as an emotional argument or conflict between people. In general, it seeks to open a subject, not close it; to broaden a subject, not narrow it; and primarily to earn respect for a position, not necessarily defeat one.
What’s a Claim? Every argument has a claim-also called an assertion or proposition—that states the argument’s main idea or position. A claim differs from a topic or subject in that it has to be arguable. It can’t just be a statement of fact; it has to state a position that some people might disagree with and others might agree with.
Claim or not? 1. SUV owners should be required to pay an energy surcharge. 2. Charter schools are an alternative to public schools. 3. Ronald Reagan was the most charismatic president of the 20 th century. 4. The terms global warming and climate change describe different perspectives on this complex issue. 5. Requiring students to wear uniforms improves school spirit. 6. Students graduating from college today can expect to have more debt than any previous generation.
We argue about 3 Basic Categories: Arguments of Fact Arguments of Values Arguments of Policy While it is helpful to separate the 3 for analysis, in practice it is not always that simple. Indeed, it is quite common for an argument to include more than one type of claim.
Arguments of Fact (Claims of fact) assert that something is true or not true. Arguments of fact often pivot on what exactly is “factual. ” Facts become arguable when they are questioned, when they raise controversy, when they challenge people’s beliefs. “The Social Security program will go bankrupt in 2025. ” “Global Warming is a serious problem. ” TV violence and video games do have an effect and increase the violence of our youth.
Arguments of Values Claims of Value argue that something is good or bad, right or wrong, desirable or undesirable. Just like any other claim, a claim of value must be arguable. This claim may be based on personal judgment, or they may be an objective evaluation.
Argument of Values To develop an argument from a claim of value, you must establish specific criteria or standards and then show to what extent the subject meets your criteria. Capital punishment is wrong. Giving incentives to motivate donations to charity is not okay. The war in Iraq is doing more harm than good.
Argument of Policy Anytime your propose a change, you’re making a claim of policy. An argument of policy generally begins with a definition of the problem (claim of fact), explains why it is a problem (claim of value), and then explains the change that needs to happen (claim of policy).
Keep in mind… While an argument of policy usually calls for some direct action to take place, it may be a recommendation for a change in attitude or viewpoint. We should grant amnesty to hard-working, law-abiding alien workers. The US should not immediately withdraw from Iraq.
Why do we argue? We argue for 4 major reasons: To assert To prevail To inquire To negotiate differences “Felons and the Right to Vote” NYTimes
We use 3 Basic Appeals Logos- logic, rational Pathos- emotion, morality, ethics, values Ethos- credibility or sources, use of sources *As a reader- recognize it *As a writer- master it ***How: tone (measured, respectful “a good person speaking well”) quality of evidence/sources.
The Premises of Argumentthat which can divide us Political Legal Historical Values: ethical/moral/religious Scientific Psychological Economic Pragmatic Post Modern Sociological
The Premises of Argument Political- “The American public supports it. ” Legal- “It’s the law/shouldn’t be the law. ” Historical- “It has/has not worked in the past. ” Values: ethical/moral/religious- “It is right” (eye for an eye, justice). “It is not right” (thou shalt not kill: two wrongs do not make a right). Psychological- “Most prisoners on death row were abused children. ” Economic- “It’s too expensive. ” “It’s cheaper than life without parole. ” Pragmatic- “It doesn’t work. ” “It’s an ineffective deterrent. ” Sociological- “A disproportionate number of the poor and people of color are on death row. ”