- Slides: 10
WHAT IS AN ARGUMENT Part One: Argument Analysis
Functional Definition � An argument is an attempt to support (provide reasons for) a statement (claim /assertion) by appealing to the capacity of reason. � This functional definition is useful in the process of argument identification.
Structural Definition � An argument is a composition of statements (claims/assertions) some of which (the premises) are intended to provide reasons (evidence/support) for the other (the conclusion or thesis). � This structural definition is useful in the process of argument analysis.
Argument Analysis � � Analysis is the process of breaking a complex object into its constituent elements and determining the relation between these elements. The constituent elements in an argument are Statements. The relationship between statements in an argument is assessed according to the function those statements serve in the argument. Some statements, namely the premises, serve to provide support for others, namely the conclusion(s).
Accuracy and Analysis � The goal in argument analysis is to develop an accurate account of the author’s intended meaning while also accurately representing the relationship of support between the premises and the conclusion in the argument.
What is a Statement? � � A statement is an independent clause that can be reasonably understood to assert that something is the case (i. e. that something is either true or false). Examples of Statements: � Factual: “The Earth is Flat. ” � Interpretive: “Justice is whatever is in the interest of the stronger. ” � Evaluative/Moral: “You shouldn’t wear shoes in the temple. ” � Evaluative/Aesthetic: “Van Gough’s paintings are more beautiful than Monet’s”
Formula for Identifying Statements � It is true or false that X. Where X = the independent clause in question. � Do these sentences qualify as statements? � � My dog hates cats. � Come out of the house with your hands up! � Do you know the way to San Jose? � Testing cosmetic products on animals is wrong.
Examples of Non-Statements Many sentences do not assert that something is the case, but instead are intended to direct behavior or serve to express emotion or sentiment. � Commands � � � Questions � � What time is the meeting this afternoon? Exclamations � � � March up that hill soldier. Do not write on this exam. Ouch! Egad! Requests � Please turn down that loud music.
Interpreting Authorial Intent � � When interpreting an author’s utterance (whether verbal, written, or otherwise expressed) the purpose is to accurately ascertain the author’s intent, not merely to report what they have said (written, etc. ) Context matters: Often the circumstances or conditions in which an utterance occurs gives us clues as to authorial intent. It is essential that you consider context when interpreting a sentence.
Interpreting Authorial Intent Cont. � Rhetorical Questions: Though such utterances have the grammatical form of a question, they are intended to assert that something is the case and so should be interpreted as statements. � � Pseudo Commands: Though such utterances have the grammatical form of a command, they are intended to serve as an ought imperative. � � Example: “When are you going to realize that your boyfriend is a lying, cheating, dog? ” Example: “Don’t eat sushi. If you do, you risk infection and contribute to the depletion of threatened species such as the Blue fin tuna. ” Pseudo Exclamations: though such utterances have the grammatical form of an exclamation, they are intended to assert (usually) a value statement. � Example: “What a crock!” in response to the proposed no-smoking policy on SRJC campus.