ENGL 1301 Chapter One, WA 102-108, + HB W4 What isn’t considered an argument? The following list explains what an argument is not: Argument is not a fight or quarrel. A fight is generally a conflict of opinions or emotions, often not supported by rational evidence. Argument is not pro-con debate. Remember the element of truth-seeking required by an argument. Arguments often represent a search for answers. The education system does/does not need to be reformed. (If the answer is that it does need to be reformed, the argument could then be a search for how best to do that.) What is an argument? Arguments have three defining features: Arguments require justification of their claims. Arguments are both product and process. Arguments can be implicit or explicit. Arguments require justification of their claims. For example, if I argue that the sky is blue, what proof do I have that this is true? Claim=“the sky is blue” Justification or backing=a historical record of blue skies, the word of people who have observed the sky and can verify that it’s blue, information from a respected source (book, journal, etc.) Another example could be the argument that we should recycle. Claim=“we should recycle” What justification would I have for that claim? Arguments are both product and process This statement means exactly what it says. Arguments combine elements of truth seeking and persuasion. Arguments combine elements of truth seeking and persuasion. In making an argument, you aren’t looking to “win,” as you might in a debate or fight. Arguments seek out the truth. Someone might make a very eloquent case that persuades an audience to his side, but this isn’t necessarily a good argument if it isn’t grounded in truth seeking. Sophistry (explained, page 13) would full into this category. The graphic on page 11 is a great explanation of the truth-seeking/persuasion continuum. Arguments can be implicit or explicit. “An explicit argument states directly a controversial claim and supports it with reasons and evidence” (4). Examples: argumentative essays, letters to the editor, policy discussions, etc. Used when discussing specifics of a given topic. “An implicit argument, in contrast, doesn’t look like an argument” (4). The argument is hidden. Examples: poetry, photography, song lyrics, anything that provides a metaphorical or allegorical presentation of a topic. Used to make a persuasive point about a topic without explicitly stating the argument. Elements of Argument: Thesis Thesis: “the controlling idea, the main point, the conclusion you have drawn about the evidence you have accumulated” (Handbook 27). Within an essay, the thesis is the central claim of the essay. All other paragraphs exist in order to prove that main thesis. You might begin working on an essay with an idea of what your main argument might be, or you might discover your argument by researching the topic more. You might also find that your argument changes after some time spent researching. All of these possibilities are okay. Just remember that the final product should have a central argument that is supported by the rest of the essay. Elements of Argument & Writing: Context & Audience Context: What is the occasion for this writing? How will the writing be presented? What are the limits and expectations of the writing task? Audience: Who is your audience? Who will be reading what you write? How much does your audience know or care about your issue? What is your relationship to the audience? How receptive do you think the audience will be to your argument? What is their current attitude to your issue? Are there things that might make your audience less receptive to your argument? (Think about their relationship to the topic, their opinions about it, any larger issues that might influence their opinions. For example, Gordon Adams is writing his “Petition” in hopes that his Mathematics requirement will be waived. He wants his audience to take a specific action, but the audience might be thinking about other students who will try to do the same in the future and the problems that could cause within the university.) What values, beliefs, or assumptions about the world do you and your audience share? What action do you want the audience to take after reading your work? Elements of Writing: Summary Summary: a reduction of a longer text in to a shorter text that expresses the main ideas and most important points of the original text. A summary does not repeat the words of the original text. To summarize an argument: Provide an explanation of the thesis Include the main points (justification/support/backing) of the argument Make note of any important details Use your own words Putting it into Practice Using your Writing Arguments textbook, look at the “Petition to Waive the University Mathematics Requirement.” Separate into groups of 3-5 people. Take the next 10-15 minutes and write a summary of the petition. Remember that you’re just summarizing, not making an argument for or against the petition. We will do that later. My Summary In the “Petition to Waive the University Mathematics Requirement,” Gordon Adams, a 43-year-old Justice Studies student at Arizona State University (ASU) and future student of American Indian law, urges the committee to allow him to opt out of the university’s mathematics requirement, as it would delay his entrance into law school. The argument is based largely on the idea (verified by practicing lawyers and a contact at the ASU School of Law) that the practice of American Indian law won’t require a knowledge of algebra, as well as the author’s assertion (verified by previous performance in math classes, his own work as a machine and welding contractor, and his experience building racebikes) that he already possesses the critical thinking skills and creativity that the undergraduate Mathematics requirement is meant to foster. Taking a vote Who would let Gordon Adams waive the Mathematics requirement? Who wouldn’t? Think about your reasons. Homework Questions 1. Question 1 from the “For Class Discussion” section on page 20 of WA. 2. What are three ways that Gordon Adams appeals to his audience? Give specific examples, and included the page number. 3. What are three ways that Gordon Adams might offend or fail to appeal to his audience? Give specific examples, and included the page number. 4. How would you cite the Gordon Adams letter on a Works Cited page, using MLA format?