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CHECKLIST:WRITING ARGUMENTATIVE ESSAYS

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Title: CHECKLIST:WRITING ARGUMENTATIVE ESSAYS


1
CHECKLISTWRITING ARGUMENTATIVE ESSAYS
2
Writing Argumentative Essays
  • Is your topic debatable?
  • Does your essay develop an argumentative thesis?
  • Have you considered the opinions, attitudes, and
    values of your audience?
  • Have you identified and refuted opposing
    arguments?
  • Are your arguments logically constructed?
  • Have you supported your assertions with evidence?

3
Writing Argumentative Essays (Contd.)
  • Have you established your credibility?
  • Have you been fair?
  • Have you avoided logical fallacies?
  • Have you provided your reader with enough
    background information?
  • Have you presented your points clearly and
    organized them logically?
  • Have you written an interesting introduction and
    a strong conclusion?

4
Using Evidence and Establishing Credibility
  • 1. Using evidence
  • Most arguments are built on assertions- claims
    you make about a debatable topic- backed by
    evidence- supporting information, in the form of
    examples, statistics, or expert opinion.

5
Using Evidence and Establishing
Credibility(Contd.)
  • Only statements that are self-evident (All
    human beings are mortal), true by definition
    (224), or factual (The Atlantic Ocean
    separates England and the United States) need no
    proof.
  • Readers need supporting evidence for all other
    kinds of assertions you make.

6
Using evidence and establishing credibility
(Contd. )
  • 2. Establishing credibility and being fair.
  • In order to convince readers, you have to
    satisfy them you are someone they should listen
    to- in other words, that you have credibility.
  • Readers will also judge the fairness of your use
    of the evidence.

7
CHECKLIST ESTABLISHING CREDIBILITY
  • FIND COMMON GROUND
  • Identify the various sides of the issue.
  • Identify the points on which you and your
    reader are in agreement.
  • Work these areas of agreement into your
    argument.

8
CHECKLIST ESTABLISHING CREDIBILITY (Contd.)
  • DEMONSTRATE KNOWLEDGE
  • Include relevant personal experiences.
  • Include relevant special knowledge of your
    subject.
  • Include the results of any relevant research
    you have done.

9
CHECKLIST ESTABLISHING CREDIBILITY (Contd.)
  • MAINTAIN A REASONABLE TONE
  • Avoid sounding as if you are talking down to
    or insulting your readers.
  • Use moderate language and qualify your
    statements.

10
CHECKLIST BEING FAIR
  • Do not distort evidence.
  • Do not intentionally misrepresent opponents
    views by exaggerating them and then attacking
    this extreme position.
  • Do not change the meaning of what someone has
    said or implied by selecting certain words from a
    statement and ignoring others.

11
CHECKLIST BEING FAIR (Contd.)
  • Do not select only information that supports your
    case and ignore information that does not.
  • Do not use inflammatory language calculated to
    appeal to the emotions or prejudices of readers.

12
CHECKLIST AVOID LOGICAL FALLACIES
  • Finally, readers will not accept your argument
    unless it is logical. For this reason, you should
    revise carefully to be sure you have avoided
    logical fallacies.

13
ORGANISING AN ARGUMENTATIVE ESSAY
  • In its simplest form, an argument consists of a
    thesis statement and supporting evidence.
    However, argumentative essays frequently contain
    additional elements calculated to win audience
    approval and to overcome potential opposition.

14
ELEMENTS OF AN ARGUMENTATIVE ESSAY
  • INTRODUCTION
  • The introduction of your argumentative essay
    orients your readers to your subject. Here, you
    can show how your subject concerns your audience,
    note why it is important, or explain how it has
    been misunderstood.

15
ELEMENTS OF AN ARGUMENTATIVE ESSAY(Contd.)
  • BACKGROUND
  • In this section you may briefly present a
    narrative of past events, a summary of others
    opinions on your subject, or a review of basic
    facts.

16
ELEMENTS OF AN ARGUMENTATIVE ESSAY(Contd.)
  • THESIS STATEMENT
  • Your thesis statement can appear anywhere in
    your argumentative essay. Frequently, you state
    your thesis after you have given your readers an
    overview of your subject. However, in highly
    controversial arguments- those to which your
    audience might react negatively- you may postpone
    stating your thesis until later in your essay.

17
AUTHORITY
  • Much of the evidence for your research
    conclusions will come from authorities with
    special insight or knowledge about your topic.
    An authority is someone qualified to offer an
    opinion or make a statement on a topic.

18
AUTHORITY (Contd.)
  • The extent to which someone qualifies as an
    authority depends upon the topic and the
    individuals background and experience.

19
AUTHORITY (Contd.)
  • A medical doctor qualifies as an authority when
    talking about the health risk involved with
    piercing ones navel to accommodate body
    jewellery however, the same doctor is not an
    authority on the reasons that young people are so
    fond of this trend.
  • That opinion should come from someone with more
    background on the topic such as an authority on
    culture or a researcher who has interviewed a
    number of teenagers about navel piercing.

20
Checklist for Evaluating Authority
  • You should judge the authority of a source by a
    variety of criteria. In addition to an
    individuals background and experience, weigh
    factors such at the following in determining a
    sources level of credibility or expertise

21
Checklist for Evaluating Authority (Contd.)
  • If the sources qualifications are not
    immediately clear, is there an adequate
    explanation of them?
  • Does the source demonstrate knowledge of the
    topic and an awareness of recent issues, research
    and opinions?
  • Is the source recognised and cited by others who
    address the topic?

22
Checklist for Evaluating Authority (Contd.)
  • Is the source current?
  • Does the source acknowledge information and
    opinions from others?
  • Do the information and opinions offered appear in
    a reliable publication or other type of trusted
    source?
  • Is the source unbiased in presenting his or her
    own ideas and the ideas of others?

23
Checklist for Evaluating Authority (Contd.)
  • You will find most authorities agree about
    factual evidence but you may find they disagree
    about larger and more intangible issues. Make
    sure you consult authorities on each side of an
    issue during your research and discuss any
    conflicting points of view as you set forth your
    own conclusions in the research paper.

24
BEING AWARE OF LOGICAL FALLACIES
  • Logical fallacies represent errors in thinking.
    Most of them reflect overvaluing or ignoring
    certain evidence others use language that
    distorts the basis of an argument. Since the
    conclusions derived from such fallacies are
    usually stated in ways that make them sound
    logical, they are frequently popularized and
    accepted as common sense.

25
BEING AWARE OF LOGICAL FALLACIES
  • Because logical fallacies are common in popular
    attitudes and arguments you need to be aware of
    them in your own thinking and in the arguments of
    your research sources.
  • Following are brief descriptions of some of the
    most common logical fallacies (traditional terms
    for some of the better-known fallacies are given
    in parentheses)

26
Avoid these common logical fallacies
  • Against the person (ad hominem) Confusing the
    validity of an argument with the character of the
    person who makes it.

27
Avoid these common logical fallacies
  • Rather than address the argument itself, an
    attack against the person focuses on an
    opponents appearance, personal habits, or
    character.
  • E.g. We cant trust the testimony of a DNA
    scientist who once declared bankruptcy and has
    been divorced twice, can we?
  • This is an example of an argument against the
    person.

28
Avoid these common logical fallacies (Contd.)
  • Appeal to authority Assuming that the authority
    or reputation of an individual is evidence for
    the truth of his or her views.
  • While the views an authority expresses may be
    validated by other evidence, the fact that
    someone is an Oscar-winning movie star, for
    example, is not a sufficient reason to buy the
    brand of car he or she may be advertising.

29
Avoid these common logical fallacies (Contd.)
  • Appeal to ignorance (ad ignoratiam) Arguing that
    a claim must be true simply because no one has
    shown that it is false.

30
Avoid these common logical fallacies (Contd.)
  • The abominable snowman must exist. After all, no
    one has shown it doesn't is an appeal to
    ignorance resulting from an illogical inference.
    While an audience might agree with the premise
    that the abominable snowman could exist, it does
    not logically follow that it therefore does.

31
Avoid these common logical fallacies (Contd.)
  • Appeal to pity (ad misericodiam) Attempting to
    persuade by arousing pity instead of addressing
    the real issue.

32
Avoid These Common Logical Fallacies (Contd.)
  • But I still think my paper should get a passing
    grade, Professor Harper. I missed work yesterday
    and stayed up all night to get it finished on
    time is an appeal-to-pity argument all too
    familiar to English teachers!

33
Avoid These Common Logical Fallacies (Contd.)
  • Appeal to the people, or bandwagon (ad populum)
    Arguing that something is right or best because
    many others think it is.

34
Avoid These Common Logical Fallacies (Contd.)
  • E.g. Complaining to ones parents that All our
    friends have QuickConnect online service. We
    should, too ignores any evidence for or against
    QuickConnects services. The argument assumes
    QuickConnect must provide good service solely on
    the evidence that others are using it. Everybody
    else is doing it is not a logical reason or
    excuse for doing anything.

35
Avoid These Common Logical Fallacies (Contd.)
  • Circular definition, or begging the question
    Restating an assumption as part of its proof.
    Arguments using circular definition simply repeat
    their initial proposition in different words.

36
Avoid These Common Logical Fallacies (Contd.)
  • A mans gotta do what hes gotta do and
    Pornorgraphy is dangerous because it harms lives
    are circular arguments that beg, or put off, the
    question they raise by actually ignoring the
    issue at hand.

37
Avoid These Common Logical Fallacies (Contd.)
  • Equivocation Shifting the meanings of the terms
    used in an argument.
  • For instance You claim whales are intelligent.
    But if whales are intelligent, why do we have to
    protect them? Cant intelligent creatures take
    care of themselves? Such reasoning may seem
    plausible, but it is not The speaker has
    changed the meaning of intelligent from capable
    of understanding to something different than was
    meant in the opponents original claim.

38
Avoid These Common Logical Fallacies (Contd.)
  • False analogy Using a comparison in which the
    differences between two things are greater than
    their similarities or in which the similarities
    are irrelevant to the argument being made.

39
Avoid These Common Logical Fallacies (Contd.)
  • Referring to television as the plug-in-drug, for
    example, overlooks major differences between the
    varied causes of habitual television watching and
    those of life-destroying, addictive drugs.

40
Avoid These Common Logical Fallacies (Contd.)
  • False cause (post hoc, ergo propter hoc)
    Assuming a cause-effect relationship because two
    events are related in time. The fallacy of false
    cause is also known as post hoc reasoning, from
    the Latin phrase post hoc, ergo propter hoc,
    meaning after this, therefore because of this.

41
Avoid These Common Logical Fallacies (Contd.)
  • False-cause reasoning assumes that because one
    thing happened at the same time as another, the
    first caused the second. Such reasoning is often
    the basis for superstition, as when a person has
    bad luck after breaking a mirror and concludes,
    wrongly, that the accident with the mirror caused
    the bad luck.

42
Avoid These Common Logical Fallacies (Contd.)
  • False dilemma, or either-or Arguing for a
    conclusion as if there are only two alternatives.
    The alternative in the false dilemma is
    generally more attractive than the initial
    proposal.
  • For example, Either learn to play golf or forget
    about getting that job as vice-president presents
    a false dilemma that ignores the fact that
    someone may advance in a career for many other
    reasons than being the bosss golf partner.

43
Avoid These Common Logical Fallacies (Contd.)
  • Hasty Generalization Drawing a conclusion based
    on inadequate evidence.
  • Arguing that Professor Tolmass examinations are
    easy at a point when you have taken only one is
    hasty generalization. You do not have enough
    examples of his tests to reasonably draw such a
    conclusion indeed, the one test you have taken
    may have been an exception.

44
Avoid These Common Logical Fallacies (Contd.)
  • The error of making judgments based on inadequate
    evidence can lead to stereotyping and prejudice,
    both the results of erroneously generalizing
    about a group on the basis of one or two pieces
    of evidence.
  • Just because someone in Rome stole your wallet is
    not justification to call all Romans thieves.

45
Avoid These Common Logical Fallacies (Contd.)
  • Poisoning the well Using loaded language to
    discourage discussion of an argument before
    examining it.

46
Avoid These Common Logical Fallacies (Contd.)
  • Saying that No one who cares about children will
    hesitate to support this law intimidates would-be
    opponents and discourages them from responding.
    To argue against the law might mean being viewed
    as not caring about children or having to defend
    oneself against such a charge.

47
Avoid These Common Logical Fallacies (Contd.)
  • Red herring Diverting discussion of an issue by
    introducing another, unrelated topic.
  • The term red herring derives from the fact that
    smoked herring is strong smelling and used to
    divert hunting dogs from a trail.

48
Avoid These Common Logical Fallacies (Contd.)
  • Similarly, most red-herring issues are
    controversial or interesting enough to get an
    audiences attention and make them forget about
    the issue at hand.
  • Yes, we may need to look at this citys use of
    landfills, but isnt the problem of illiteracy
    among our high school graduates more important?
    is an example of a red-herring technique.

49
Avoid These Common Logical Fallacies (Contd.)
  • Slippery slope Claiming that an action should
    not be taken because doing so will lead to a
    chain of undesirable events.
  • Slippery-slope reasoning assumes one action will
    inevitably lead to the next, then the next, and
    so on until a calamitous point is reached.

50
Avoid These Common Logical Fallacies (Contd.)
  • Those who oppose banning the sale or import of
    assault weapons, for example, often fall back on
    slippery-slope arguments
  • Once assault weapons are banned, they reason,
    other automatic weapons will be banned next, then
    handguns, and so on until all guns are banned.
  • The fallacy behind such arguments is in presuming
    that the same reasons for the first action would
    necessarily lead to the second, the third, and so
    on.

51
WORKING WITH OTHERS
  • Your understanding of argument will be vital to
    the success of your research effort and the
    resulting research paper.
  • To understand what makes an effective argument,
    you must be able to reason logically to
    consider one or more facts and come to a
    reasonable conclusion.

52
WORKING WITH OTHERS (Contd.)
  • As you complete your research and fine-tune
    the plan for your paper, discuss these points
    with someone else.

53
WORKING WITH OTHERS (Contd.)
  • Review several of your scores to look for
    examples of deductive and inductive reasoning.
  • Consider what makes each approach effective or
    ineffective in these sources.
  • Do a rough outline of the argument presented in
    one source, showing either the deductive or
    inductive pattern of reasoning.
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