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Project 4 Argument

Project 4: Argument

Simply stated, argument is the rhetorical strategy of expressing one’s point of view through a rational defense of that view. Unlike other rhetorical strategies, which might be used simply to inform/educate or entertain/delight, the purpose of argument is almost always to move/persuade. It can be used to ‘inform’ others of the truth, but since there is often disagreement over the truth, we are generally using argument to convince others to change their erroneous views or adopt desired courses of action. And while arguments ultimately rely on the reasoning behind them, they are usually not effective in changing others unless we also make use of ethical and pathetic appeals.

In Glenn’s terms, there are three modes of arguing: defending the expression of one’s stance, rebutting an opponent’s stance, and inviting someone to consider a new stance. I am asking you to choose a side and argue, using logical reasoning and evidence to persuade your reader to side with you.

Assignment Protocol:

Your medium must be a written argument that will be read (and not a speech that will be heard). Also, you must also have an actual chance of convincing your opponent. Thus, unless you receive special permission, you may not write on abortion. (The temptation is to argue with a non-believer on the basis of the truth of the Bible, or to argue against a Christian while ignoring the fact that they accept the Bible as source of truth. This does not work in the course of a three-to-five page rebuttal essay; however, if you’ve proven yourself to be a solid writer/think, I will give you permission if you’ve framed the rhetorical situation well.) A list of “off-limit” topics can be found below.

Assignment Goals:
Most argumentative essays accomplish most, if not all, of the following goals.  Your essay should accomplish several of these as well:

•    Identify the specific claim against which you will argue.
•    Responsibly summarize the alternative position. Be fair and rigorous.
•    Establish common ground (your primary ethical appeal)
•    Find a point or points of disagreement.
•    Explain your good reasons for disagreeing with the alternative argument (such that logical appeals are the bulk of your essay; you must do research).
•    Explore other ideas, arguments, and possibilities that your opponent discounts or ignores.
•    Try to persuade the audience to move toward your position (either by believing what you believe or doing what you wish them to do).

Types of Disagreements:
People disagree for different reasons. Here are a few ways to think about how you might disagree with someone else’s argument: you might disagree with a basic fact, or a definition of a key term, or the value of something (good/bad; desirable/undesirable; right/wrong).
You might disagree about the proper course of action that should be taken in light of the facts, or you might disagree about the cause of a problem. You might disagree with the analogies, metaphors, and descriptions that someone uses in an argument. Perhaps the argument just does not feel right. You might disagree with someone because they seem untrustworthy (although beware of ad hominem fallacies). You might disagree with someone’s fundamental assumptions about the world. You might disagree because your opponent relies on fallacies.

Usually in the course of a complicated disagreement, one person disagrees with another for a combination of reasons, but in most cases, one or two particular kinds of reasons prove to be more important than the others.

Picking a Topic:
When deciding what to write about, seek out current events from magazines like Newsweek, Time, National Geographic, The Economist, The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Variety and other reputable sources. You may also seek out articles from, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and other news sources including local papers like The Charlotte Observer. If you are unsure about your source ask me before committing. You are not limited by any means to chose a “serious” topic involving politics. You are more encouraged to choose topics in Entertainment and Sports, especially if these topics interest you most. I strongly urge you take your time in choosing a topic. There is no need to rush.

Grading Standards:
In this assignment, I am looking to see that you have done the following things well:
1.    Explained the importance and context of the issue you are debating;
2.    Fairly and rigorously addressed the claim to which you offer a rebuttal;
3.    Clearly identified your competing claim;
4.    Established ethos in the opening paragraph(s) of the essay;
5.    Provided logical appeals to support your claim and research-backed evidence to support those reasons;
6.    Developed your argument in a manner and style suitable for your audience;
7.    Used either a deductive or inductive argumentative structure;
8.    Clearly established the point of each paragraph;
9.    Avoided fallacies;
10.    Moved the reader along using clear transitions;
11.    Provided a strong pathetic appeal in the conclusion;
12.    Followed correct MLA formatting guidelines; and
13.    Constructed your argument with the grace and style I have come to expect of all of you.

Note: If you choose a current event from a newspaper, or magazine please provide me with a copy of the article with your essay.

No, you may NOT write about the following:
1.    Abortion
2.    Gay Marriage
3.    The Death Penalty
4.    The legalization of Marijuana
5.    The lowering of the drinking age

Below is a list of topics. These topics are a last resort. I would prefer you seek out other more original ideas than the ones listed below.

LAST RESORT Topics for Persuasive Essay
1.    Is our election process fair?
2.    Do colleges put too much stock in standardized test scores?
3.    Is torture ever acceptable?
4.    Is cheating out of control?
5.    Are we too dependent on computers?
6.    Are cell phones dangerous?
7.    Are law enforcement cameras an invasion of privacy?
8.    Are test scores a good indication of a school’s competency?
9.    Do we have a throw-away society?
10.    Is child behavior better or worse than it was years ago?
11.    Are actors and professional athletes paid too much?
12.    Should English be the official language in the United States?
13.    Should the military be allowed to recruit at high schools?
14.    Are there benefits to attending a single-sex school?
15.    Does participation in sports keep teens out of trouble?
16.    Is competition good?
17.    Should the government provide health care?
18.     Should students be allowed to grade their teachers?
19.    Is the cost of college too high?
20.    Is college admission too competitive?
21.    Should free speech have limitations?
22.    Should etiquette be taught in schools?
23.    Should recycling be mandatory for everyone?
24.    Should internet access be free?
25.    Should be a mandatory entrance exam for high school?


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