argumentative speech

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Argumentative Speech Adapted from Guilford, Chuck. Writing Argumentative Essays . 1996. 29 March 2006 < >.

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The goal of argument is to gain your reader's assent to your central proposition , despite active opposition “We argue not because we're angry, but because arguing causes us to examine our own and others' ideas carefully. It causes us to weigh conflicting claims; to make judgments about the nature of evidence and the methods of investigation; to state our thoughts clearly, accurately, and honestly; to consider, respectfully and critically, the ideas of others.”

Arguing in Context:

Arguing in Context Writer: A college freshman away from home and working part-time at a fast-food restaurant to pay her expenses, a serious student majoring in pre-medicine but getting mentally and emotionally exhausted from the various pressures in her life. Reader: Her parents, but especially her father who, she knows, will make the final decision after talking the issue out with her mother. Her father is a successful banker, generally loving and supportive but a bit old-fashioned in that he wants the daughter to get the kind of education that would fit her for a more conventional "woman's role" in society, maybe dental hygiene or nursing since she is interested in medicine. Her mother almost always remains subordinate to the father, but exerts a great deal of influence on the father and has at least hinted that she supports the girl's desire to become a doctor. Purpose: To persuade her father to temporarily increase his level of financial support by a hundred dollars a month so that she can quit her job and concentrate more on her studies.

Arguing in Context:

Arguing in Context Content Actual request What Has to work every Thursday evening and has a quiz every Friday morning How Sound respectful, mature, and serious—not desperate or insistent.


Activity Prepare a brief situation covering the four elements of the writing context: reader, purpose, content. Imagine you are writing a letter asking someone to do a favor or help with a problem. If possible, choose a real person and a real problem. Use the following format: SITUATION STATEMENT Writer: Reader: Purpose: Content:

Stating Your Proposition:

Stating Your Proposition Argumentative proposition=thesis statement stating main point helps you direct, develop and monitor at 1 st , hunches or good guesses probably will be modified or revised make a claim that is open to debate


Activity Some people ruin things for everyone vague provides no direction A small group of thoughtless fans is jeopardizing the school’s whole soccer program. precise Do the attached activity to rate the sentences as proposition statements

Anticipating Opposition sense an adversary:

Anticipating Opposition sense an adversary How strong is the opposition? What arguments might it use against my proposition? How can I refute these arguments? Will I have to concede any points? Which of my arguments might the opposition try to discredit? How closely does my reader identify with opposition? Can I see any weak links in my adversary?

Pro and Con Chart:

Pro and Con Chart Proposition: The Medical Records department should set up an incentive program that pays all transcriptionists a bonus of ten cents a line for all lines typed over nine hundred a day. For (Pro) Faster typists would produce more lines. Faster typists would make more money. One less transcriptionist would be needed. One less word processing machine would be needed. Less office space would be needed. One less benefit package would be needed. Less overtime would be required. Less sick time would be paid. Against (Con) Typists would do not do other duties, such as paper work. Typists would try to type the easier reports. Typists would do a poorer quality of work. Slower typists would be mad. Typists could make more money than the boss. Other people in the department would be mad.


Activity Make a pro/con chart for a subject of your choice. Exchange and discuss this with a partner.

Expanding Your Argument:

Expanding Your Argument Develop points listed in chart. Think in terms of paragraphs. Examples, explanation, comparison and contrast, facts Arguments for is confirming Clear, reasonable, solid Arguments against is refuting Show how case is weak Both are essential

Three Argumentative Appeals :

Three Argumentative Appeals Reason “ Briefly informal reasoning requires clearly linking your general claims with concrete, specific data.” Ethics “If you misrepresent the implications of your own value sturcture, or seek to hurt some individual or group, you can expect to alienate your readers.” Emotion “…emotional appeals must be used with restraint and discretion, or they may prove counterproductive.”

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Inductive reasoning Thinking begins with specifics and moves toward a generalization. If you were to taste several green, plump grapes and then draw the conclusion that all green, plump grapes are sour, this is inductive reasoning . In writing have you examined the evidence carefully? does the evidence justify your conclusion? have you given enough specific evidence to make readers believe your thinking is sound and conclusion is true?

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Deductive reasoning Thinking begins with general and moves toward specifics by taking a general principle that you know to be true and use it to understand a specific situation. For example, bad weather reduces business for outdoor restaurants. Today is cold and rainy. From this knowledge, you can say Business will be slow today at the outdoor restaurants. This is deductive reasoning .


Activity Read the following statements and comment on their use of informal reasoning. What details would you need to see in order to be convinced? Can you find any unstated assumptions that need to be examined? Coach Ratcliffe should be fired because a coach’s job is to win ballgames. I know he’s popular because he drives a Corvette. The President hasn’t done anything about welfare reform, so he has no sympathy for the poor. Too much smoking ruins a person’s health, so you know Louisa’s in bad shape. Today’s prisons are practically like country clubs. Imported cars are higher in quality than American cars. Mr. Price got the contract, so you know he paid a few people off.

Activity 2:

Activity 2 Look over the following examples, fill in any missing links in the reasoning chain, and comment on the uses of informal logic: Claim: Coach Ratcliffe should be fired. Link: A coach’s job is to win ballgames. Data: The team had a 4 and 6 record this year. They had a 3 and 7 record last year. They had a 1 and 9 record the previous year. Claim: Omaha has an outstanding school system. Link: Data: The buildings are well-maintained. Most schools have computers. Several new schools have been built in the past few years.

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Ethics The best way to put ethical appeal in your writing is to “build a strong, healthy relationship with your readers. Convince them that they can trust you to be fair, honest, well-informed, and well-intentioned. Then having established that trust, don’t betray it.”


Activity Letting 10 represent the highest and 1 the lowest, rate the following public figures for their appeal to character. Of course, you’ll be considering more that just writing, but the activity should still give you some insight into what ethos is and how it affects credibility. When you’ve finished, compare your ratings with those of a partner. Discuss the reasons for your scoring. Abraham Lincoln b. Adolf Hitler Michael Jackson d. Madonna George W. Bush f. Bill Gates Ann Landers h. Jay Leno i. Sandra Day O’Connor j. Bill Clinton

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Emotion Don’t overdo emotion or people won’t take you seriously, but a little bit of emotion will probably help if carefully reasoned and honestly presented. Illustrate or dramatize an idea For example, if stiffer measures are needed against drunk drivers, find a place to include a description of the face of a child who was injured in a drunk driving accident. OR tell the story of a driver who caused several accidents because the individual’s license was never revoked. Careful word choice Drunk or intoxicated drivers a menace or a concern Thrown into jail or incarcerated Teach them a lesson or make them aware of the consequences of their actions


Activity After reading the speech by Mark Anthony from William Shakespeare’s play, Julius Caesar, discuss the following: Do you think Mark Anthony is appealing to the emotions of his audience? If so, what is his purpose in doing so? What parts of the speech seem especially designed to appeal to the audience’s feelings? Does the speech contain any appeal to reason? To character? Are the various appeals balanced and harmonious or unbalanced and contradictory?

Form: Tradition and Innovation :

Form: Tradition and Innovation … essential parts include the Introduction Statement of the Case Proposition Refutation Confirmation Conclusion

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Introduction Focus your reader’s attention. Begin with a fact or example Note a common misconception Raise a question Make a bold assertion

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Introduction “Torture: The word itself brings shivers to the spine and sickness to the stomach. It conjures up pictures of bamboo strips being driven under fingernails, electric shocks being applied to delicate body parts and toes and ears being systematically cut off. Immediate sympathy is felt for the one being tortured and revulsion for the torturer. It is generally assumed that torture is barbaric, a throwback to a more brutal age. Enlightened, “civilized” societies reject it outright, and regimes suspected of using it risk the wrath of the United States. I believe that this attitude is unwise. There are situations in which torture is not merely permissible, but needed” (Levin).

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Statement of the Case Tell the story behind the argument. Give any necessary background information. Clarify the issue. Characterize and define the issue in terms that work for your argument.

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Proposition Statement State your proposition (purpose) much as you would the thesis in a thesis/support essay Perhaps set up expectations by hinting at important sub points that will be considered.

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Refutation Examine and refute opposition arguments. Expose faulty reasoning. Use these transitions: since, because, if, therefore, as a result, consequently, however, but, on the other hand, so

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Refutation “Torturing the terrorist is unconstitutional, but millions of lives surely outweigh unconstitutionality. Torture is barbaric. Mass murder is far more barbaric. Indeed, letting millions of innocents die in deference to one who flaunts his guilt is moral cowardice. If you caught the terrorist, could you sleep nights knowing that millions died because you could not bring yourself to apply the electrodes” (Levin)?

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Confirmation Develop and support your own case, much in the manner of a traditional /thesis/support essay. Use examples, facts, and statistics to back up your claims. Base your appeal primarily on logic.

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Confirmation Order 1. Second most important point Point of lesser importance Point of lesser importance Most important point – anchors your argument – like the knock-out punch in a boxing match

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Conclusion Whatever you do, end strongly. Finish with conviction. Ringing conclusion Review of your main points A reference to something in introduction A plea for action Discuss defections from the opposition.

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Conclusion “There is little danger that the Western democracies will lose their way if they choose to inflict pain as one way of preserving order. Paralysis in the face of evil is the greater danger. Some day soon a terrorist will threaten tens of thousands of lives, and torture will be the only way to save them. We had better start thinking about this” (Levin).

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References Guilford, Chuck. Writing Argumentative Essays . 1996. 29 March 2006 < >. Levin, Michael. The Case for Torture . Writing Clear Essays . Ed by Donald, Robert, et al. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1992.

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