What is an argument? PP

What is an argument?
Some people say that EVERYTHING
is an argument. So – let’s see.
If that’s so, what is the argument
Every argument starts
with a question.
So – what
does this text
SOAPS is one way to start
thinking about how to
S = What is the subject?
O = What is the occasion?
A = Who is the audience?
P = What is the purpose?
S = Who is the speaker?
The questions can be a lot more
complex, as can the answers.
Can you see how important it is to
understand this basic formula before
you start to argue?
Every text you analyze relies on this
formula, and every text you create will
rely on this formula as well.
It is also important to
consider the tone.
Tone is the author’s attitude towards
the subject.
Tone can always be identified by using
an adjective. Sometimes the tone will
vary throughout the argument. You
might use a few.
Tone is connected to audience. What
effect are you going for?
Once you have identified your
SOAPSTone, begin to form a question.
• The question should begin with How or Why,
but it doesn’t have to as long as the answers
are complex. If you can answer your question
with one word, it’s a bad question.
How can facial hair define your personality?
Why are beards such a thing?
Do I care?
You should.
By carefully and respectfully reading the viewpoints
of others and considering a range of ideas on an
issue, you can develop a clearer understanding of
your own beliefs – a necessary foundation to
creating effective arguments. You might not always
have to write one, but you will be making
arguments forever. Please, please, please buy me a new Kia
Soul! Please, please, please marry me!
I hate beards . . .
Argument is not about partisanship or
polarization. Argument is persuasive discourse –
a coherent movement from a claim to a
conclusion. It’s a way of better understanding
other people’s ideas as well as your own.
. . . but I sort of get why some people might
really, really like them.
This is my claim, and I’m sticking to
• Every argument has a claim that states the
argument’s main idea or position. It’s not just
a topic (beards). It has to be arguable. (Beards
are weird). It has to be a position that some
people might disagree with and others might
agree with.
• It has to be stated as a complete sentence.
Hmm. I wonder who else
has been thinking about
A writer can’t
develop a strong
claim without
exploring a topic
through reading
about it, discussing
it with others,
taking notes, and
Claims of Fact
• Claims of fact assert whether something is true or
not. Facts become arguable when they are
questioned, whey they raise controversy, when
they challenge people’s beliefs. Very often facts
are a matter of interpretation. Sometimes new
facts call into question old facts. Sometimes
arguments of fact challenge stereotypes or social
People who wear beards are much more welladjusted than those who don’t.
Claims of Value
• Claims of value are the most common type. They argue
whether something is good or bad, right are wrong, desirable
or undesirable. They can be personal judgments based on
taste, or they can be more objective evaluations based on
external criteria. To develop this type of claim, you must
establish specific criteria and then show to what extent your
subject meets your criteria.
A face without a beard is like a vanilla ice cream cone
without sprinkles – boring and bland.
Claims of Policy
• Claims of policy propose making a change. The argument
generally begins with a definition of the problem (which might
be a claim of fact), explains why it is a problem (which might
be a claim of value), and then explains the change that needs
to happen. It may call for direct action to take place or just
ask for a change of attitude.
Because beards harbor disease and are unattractive
besides, no man who wants to get married should ever
grow a beard.
Thesis Time
• To develop a claim into a thesis statement,
you have to be more specific about what you
intend to argue. A thesis is usually stated as
one sentence in the introduction of your
essay. It should preview the essay by
encapsulating in clear language the main point
or points you intend to make.
• There are 3 kinds.
Closed Thesis
A closed thesis is a
statement of the main idea
of the argument that also
previews the major points
of the essay. It limits the
number of points. A
closed thesis often
includes the word because.
This type helps you
organize and makes sure
you cover the key points.
Beards should be banned
because they are bizarre,
old-fashioned, and much
too large to be sanitary.
Open Thesis
If you have an essay
with five or more
points, an open thesis
is better. A open thesis
doesn’t list all the
Beards are the bane of
the universe.
Counterargument Thesis
This thesis is a variant in
which a summary of a
counterargument qualified by
although or but precedes the
writer’s opinion. This can
make your argument appear
to be stronger and more
Although Mr.
Belluzzi would say
only Italians should
wear beards, many
pumpkins would
Now it’s time to gather
• What evidence to present, how much is
necessary, and how to present it are all
rhetorical choices guided by an understanding
of the audience.
• Evidence should be relevant, accurate, and
sufficient. You must quote sources accurately.
Use enough credible sources so that people
will actually believe you.
Type 1: First-Hand Evidence
• First-hand evidence is something you know,
whether from personal experience, anecdotes
you’ve heard from others, observations, or
your general knowledge of events.
Personal Experience
• The is the most common type of first-hand.
• This adds a human element and can be an effective way to appeal to
• This is good to use in an introduction or a conclusion.
• This can make an abstract concept more concrete.
• This works best if you are an insider.
My father hated beards, and so my brother
has never grown one. I’ve never had a
boyfriend with a beard, either.
• Use a story you heard or observed about
someone else.
• This type can appeal to pathos.
When I was in college, all the boys
in one fraternity decided to grow
beards to see whose would grow
the fastest.
Current Events
• Staying abreast of what is happening locally,
nationally, and globally ensures a store of
information that can be used as evidence.
• Seek out multiple perspectives.
• Beware of bias.
Brooklyn hipsters have some of the
best beards of the 21st century.
Type 2: Second-Hand Evidence
• Second-hand evidence is accessed through
research, reading, and investigation.
• It includes factual and historical information,
expert opinion, and quantitative data.
• Anytime you cite what someone else knows,
not what you know, you are using secondhand knowledge.
• The main appeal is to logos.
Historical Information
• This includes verifiable facts that a writer knows from
• This can provide background and context to current debates.
• It can establish ethos because it shows the writer cares
enough to research.
• Be brief with this information – it can overwhelm your own
argument otherwise.
Abraham Lincoln’s beard is one of the more
famous beards.
Expert Opinion
• An expert is someone who has published
research on a topic or whose job provides
specialized knowledge.
• Your source must be credible if you want to add
weight to your own argument.
Professor Beardsley has often
remarked on his own beard, which
he has been growing since he was
Quantitative Evidence
• This includes things that can be represented in
numbers – statistics, surveys, polls, etc.
• This appeals to logos, mainly.
I learned that 25% of men who
wear beards like plaid flannel
Logical Fallacies
• This is a failure to make a logical connections
between the claim and the evidence used to
support the claim.
• They can be accidental or manipulative and
• Look for these in your own arguments AND
the arguments of others.
• It’s more important to find them than to label
Fallacies of Relevance
• Red herring – the speaker skips to a new topic in order to avoid the old
“Yes, I know some people hate beards, but what are we
going to do about Ebola.”
• Ad hominem – the speaker attacks the character of the other speaker
rather than the argument
“Don’t believe anything you hear from anyone who
wears a beard.”
• Faulty analogy – the dissimilarities outweigh the similarities
“I think I’ll buy this watch – Wolverine wears one, and his
beard is reliably cool.”
• Band wagon – the evidence boils down to “everybody’s doing it”
“If you’re cool, you’ll grow some facial hair – everybody’s
doing it in Brooklyn.”
Fallacies of Accuracy
Straw man – the speaker chooses a deliberately poor or oversimplified example in
order to ridicule the opponent
“People who don’t like beards must hate Santa Claus.”
• Either/or – the speaker presents two extreme options as the only possible choices
“If you don’t love beards, you must hate men.”
• Post hoc ergo proctor sum – claims that something is a cause just because it
happened earlier
“My father began to grow a beard soon after he began
mowing his own lawn.”
• Appeal to false authority – occurs when someone who has no expertise to speak
on an issue is cited as an authority
“Let’s ask Hillary Clinton what she thinks about beards.”
Fallacies of Insufficiency
• Hasty generalization – there isn’t enough
evidence to support a particular conclusion
“Shaving is just another unnecessary and
painful procedure. The people who invented
shaving were sadists.”
• Circular reasoning – this repeats the claim as a
way to provide evidence
“You can’t hate my beard – it’s a great
ID the Logical Fallacy
• What’s the problem? All my friends have a
curfew of midnight!
• A person who is honest will not steal, so my
client, an honest person, clearly is not guilty of
• Her economic plan is impressive, but remember:
this is a woman who spent six weeks in the Betty
Ford clinic getting treatment for alcoholism.
• Since Mayor Perry has been in office, our city
budget has had a balanced budget; if he were
governor, the state budget will finally be
• It we outlaw guns, only outlaws will have
• Smoking is dangerous because it is harmful to
you health.
• He was last year’s MVP, and he drives a Volvo.
That must be a great car.
• A national study of grades 6-8 shows that test
scores went down last year and absenteeism
was high; this generation is going to the dogs.
Classical Organization
• Introduce your topic. It’s all about the ethos.
• Include some additional background information
and state your thesis. It’s all about the pathos.
• Discuss and analyze each of the thesis subtopics.
Use your sources. It’s all about the logos.
• Present the counterargument. Logos, again.
• Conclude by answering the question, “So what?”
It’s all about the pathos (with a bit of ethos). Jazz
hands at the end are always welcome.
Inductive Organization
• Most of us use this type every day, especially
when we write about science.
• Write your essay using reasons, one after the
other, to support your main point. Use anecdotes
and expert opinion.
• This type of argument will lead to a probability,
not certainty.
• This moves from particulars to universals. So –
jazz hands at the end as you reveal your
Deductive Organization
• Take a universal truth and apply it to a specific
• The syllogism form works well here. You’ll
have a major point to make and then a minor
one. Both must be true.
• Then you’ll come to a conclusion.
Syllogism Format
• Major Premise: Exercise contributes to better
• Minor Premise: Yoga is a type of exercise.
• Conclusion: Yoga contributes to better health.
• Beware of a questionable premise –
Major – Celebrities are role models.
Minor – Lindsey Lohan is a celebrity.
Conclusion -- Lindsey Lohan is a role model.
Toulmin Organizaton – Comes with its
own thesis!
• This type of argument uncovers the various assumptions that
underlie arguments, especially abstract ones.
• The following template will help you organize a Toulmin thesis
and argument.
• Because (EVIDENCE), therefore (CLAIM) since (ASSUMPTION)
on account of (BACKING) unless (RESERVATION).
Because it’s raining, I should take my umbrella since an
umbrella will keep me dry on account of it being
waterproof unless there’s a hole in it.
• Usually you have to revise these because they’re awkward at
Visual Text Analysis
• Where did the visual first appear? Who is the
audience? Who is the speaker? Does the
person have political or organizational
affiliations that we need to know about?
• What do you notice first? Where is your eye
drawn? What is your overall first impression?
• What topic does the visual address or raise?
Does the visual make a claim about the topic?
More Visual
• Does the text tell a story? What’s the point?
• What emotions does the text evoke? How do
color and light and shadow contribute to the
• Are the figures realistic or distorted? What is
the effect?
• Are any of the images visual allusions that
would evoke memories or emotions?
More Visual
• What cultural values are viewers likely to bring
to the images?
• What claim does the visual make about the
issue it addresses?
Synthesis – 1st Step
• After you have gathered your evidence,
identify the issues and recognize the
complexities. You want to aim for a compelling argument that leaves the
reader thinking and questioning. You have to acknowledge that the issue is
complex with no easy solutions, one that provides a variety of valid perspectives.
You want to present a reasonable idea in a reasonable voice.
Synthesis 2nd Step
• Formulate your own FINAL position. Ask all the big
questions you can think of after you have gathered your evidence. You don’t want
to present a one-sided argument. Now you are ready to formulate your final
thesis. You should use one of the three types.
Synthesis 3rd Step
• Frame your quotations. It’s important not to simply summarize
or paraphrase the sources. You need to use the sources to strength your own
arguments. Include a sentence or two of explanation and commentary with each
quote. This should be a lead-in sentence (so you audience knows what to look for)
and commentary after the source content to remind the audience of your point
and how the quote or paraphrase reinforces it. Make sure to cite any ideas that are
not your own.
Synthesis 4th Step
• Integrate your quotations. You want the transition from your
own voice to others’ words and ideas to be smooth and natural. The most
effective way to do this is to incorporate the quotes into your own sentences. The
reader can more easily follow your ideas this way and see the sources in the
context of your argument. Be sure that the result is grammatically correct and
syntactically fluent.
Synthesis 5th Step
• Cite your sources. You need to cite paraphrases as well as direct
quotes. An elegant way to cite is to also include the author and title in the lead-in
sentence. You will need to include also parenthetical citations and a Works Cited
NoodleTools and MLA
• Since you will be using NoodleTools to do your
research, citing sources and creating the
Works Cited page will be easy. You can access
NoodleTools through the school’s library page
on Schoolwires.
Grammar Rules: Errors in these 3 categories are
considered the most egregious by college professors.
• The FANBOYS Rule
S+V, conjunction S+V.
FANBOYS = for, and, not, but, or, yet, so
I love beards, but I don’t like mustaches.
Semi-Colons Are Strong
• The Semicolon Rule
S=V; S+V
I love beards; I hate mustaches.
Clauses Have Subjects and Verbs
• The Subordinate Clause Rule
Until I met him, I hated beards.
I hated beards until I met him.
Adjective: People who hate beards aren’t cool.

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