Chapter 7 Argument

7.1 Toulmin Model

  • Small Group Activity: Define terms. Each group defines one of the terms:
  • Claim, Acknowledgment (Rebuttal), Warrant, Reason (Data), Backing
  • Reason v Evidence

7.2 In-class Analysis

With the alarming rise in obesity rates among Americans in the past few decades, numerous debates have arisen over how (or if) public policy should be changed to help improve this trend. One promising strategy, already adopted by seven states, has been to try and deter consumers from purchasing unhealthy foods through a tax on soda or sugary drinks and junk food (Lohman, 2002). These taxes address the issue that Americans today are consuming almost 20% more calories than they did in the early 1980’s, and those calories are coming from increasingly less-healthy sources, mainly high-fat and high-sugar processed foods (USDA, 2002). Furthermore, processed foods and drinks are increasingly more affordable than the fruits, vegetables, and whole grains needed to sustain a healthy diet (Marsh, 2011). Assuming that cost is a more pertinent factor of food choice than personal taste, increasing the price of soda and junk food through taxes, while using that revenue to subsidize unprocessed fruits and vegetables would entice consumers to choose healthier products as they become more affordable than their unhealthy counterparts.

There is evidence to suggest that cost, more so than preference, influences purchasing choices. A year after New York increased cigarette taxes from $1.25 to $2.75, smoking rates dropped by 12% to a historic low (Harutyunyan, 2009). Although some might argue that smoking is more of a lifestyle choice than eating, it is rather the choice of what foods to eat which will hopefully be affected in the long run. Additionally, this tax might hurt those in areas with little access to fresh produce and whole grains, such as in low-income urban areas; therefore the “junk food tax” would only work if healthy food choices are made not only affordable but easily available to low-income consumers through the use of subsidies (Marsh, 2011). However, if precautions are taken to ensure equal access to healthy food among all citizens, then using the “carrot” of subsidized healthy food and nutrition education along with the “stick” of a food tax, the typical American diet can– and should– be changed for the better.

7.3 Questions

    1. What is the author’s claim in this piece?
    1. Where does the author present evidence in this piece?
    1. What is the warrant in this piece? Is it stated explicitly?
    1. Where does the author present backing for her warrant?
    1. Does the author rebut possible counterarguments?
    1. How does the author qualify her claim?
    1. How would you judge the quality of this argument? Do you think that the author provided strong evidence which is supported by the warrant and backing? How well did the author address possible counterarguments and qualify her claim?

7.4 Paper Airplane

  1. Take out a peace of paper
  2. Write your argument, using Toulmin’s model (use labels for evidence)
  3. Sign the paper
  4. Fold into an airplane
  5. Launch across the room
  6. Pick up somebody else’s airplane
  7. Analysize the argument (Identify the components)
  8. Write at least one counter-argument below theirs, using the template “CLAIM because of REASON based on EVIDENCE”
  9. Return the paper to the instructor

7.5 Evidence

  • Watch Moon Hoax.

  • Are the evidence convincing? Why?

    • reliable, relevant, explain

7.6 Speech 3 (11/05)

  1. Choose wisely what you have time for, the condition of your audience, and what can be well-crafted given the situation. Be prepared to include an argument (data, claim (properly qualified), warrant) and to respond to at least one rebuttal/criticism.
  1. Here, you should make an effort to be explicit since I will be looking for these elements as I grade your speech.
  1. Remember that your conclusion can take several forms:
  1. Siding entirely with the side you are advocating for on a particular point.
  2. Finding a compromise between the sides on a particular point.
  3. Finding a way to reevaluate the terms of the debate so that it can be seen in a different light.
  1. Make an effort to consider the feasibility of your solution especially in terms of cost. You may want to stop, prevent or promote X, and doing so may be ideal, but what are the costs (financial or otherwise) to doing so? Not saying you must include an analysis of cost, but don’t let it completely escape you either. It is optional whether you include cost. Just want to make sure you are considering it (for those of you making policy recommendations/regulatory changes/programs…not everyone is).
  1. If you are dealing with conjecture or something that does not involve cost, then don’t worry about it.
  1. It is time to propose your resolution to the tension that you developed in your last speech.
  1. This speech needs only briefly review the issue.
  2. Primary focus should be on a conclusion, reasons for the conclusion, supplying necessary warrant, and addressing criticism/rebuttal.
  3. If you get done with your speech and there is no movement from premises to conclusion, or if the audience cannot tell what it was persuaded of or whether persuasive language was used, then the speech will be deficient.

7.7 Reading

  • Academic humility vs. academic pride

  • table of content

7.8 Evidence

7.9 Evaluating Evidence

  • Who/what is the source of the evidence?

    • academic journal. why?
  • Primary or secondary source?

  • How current is the evidence?

    • particularly in science, medicine, and technology
  • How relevant?

  • Are there different interpretations?

7.10 Evidence

Here is an ABC checklist from openpolytechnic, with some additions from Lumen.

  • A is for author

    • Is the author clearly identified?
    • What is the author’s level of expertise on this subject?
  • B is for bias

    • What is the source of evidence? credentials; primary vs. secondary
    • Is the purpose of the information to inform or to persuade?
    • Is the information fact or opinion? If it’s opinion, is it backed up with evidence?
    • Is the language emotive or neutral?
  • C is for currency

    • When was the information published? Check the copyright date on a book’s imprint page (back of the title page), the date of issue for magazines, journals or newspapers, or for a website when it was last updated?
    • Is the information itself up to date?

7.11 Citation

  • Why citation?

  • Examples using CMOS from Purdue OWL.

  • Some examples using CMOS: book, article, website, interview

7.12 In-class activity

  • Open the discussion forum and create a thread

  • Evaluate two other fellow students’ evidence using the checklist

7.13 Polls on US

How well does the follow statements describe the U.S.? (Well vs. Not well) from Pew

  • The rights of people to express their views in public are protected
  • Most people have a good chance to improve their living standard
  • The court system treats everyone fairly
  • Elected officials care what ordinary people think
  • No matter who wins an election, things do not change very much
  • Most politicians are corrupt
  • Most people lives in areas where it is dangerous to walk around at night

7.14 Democracy

  • What is democracy? What kind of democracy do we have? (contradictory values: freedom; equality; majority rule; minority rights; individual agency; public good)

  • How is democracy? Pew Research Center’s polls

7.15 What should democracy be?

“Democracy is under siege. Approval ratings for democratic institutions in most countries around the world are at near-record lows. The very ideal of democracy as rule by the people is suffering a crisis of confidence: If the “will of the people” can be manufactured by marketing strategies, fake news, and confirmation bias, then how real is democracy? If the expanse between decision-making elites and a mobilized public grows, then how functional is democracy? If political alienation and apathy increase, then how representative is democracy?" from Daedalus

7.16 Deliberative democracy

  • What is deliberative democracy? What are the three principles? [from the reading]

  • Can it help? Why? How?

  • What are the prospects? What are the limitations?

    • But is a diverse and polarized citizenry even capable of deliberation? How likely is group deliberation to reach a well-reasoned decision? And wouldn’t group deliberation recreate the same power imbalances obstructing other kinds of discourse? from Daedalus

7.18 More resources

Democracy When the People Are Thinking|James Fishkin. Three problems of public opinions. around 7th min. Proposed deliberative polling at 10:20 min

Our democracy no longer represents the people. Here’s how we fix it | Larry Lessig first 5 min

How the Net destroyed democracy | Lawrence Lessig

- The willing of people and final stage of democracy 13:45 min

7.19 Acknowledgement

The in-class activity is adopted from UW Canvas. The Model exercise is from the Writing Center of the University of Richmond. I also borrow materials from Grounds for Argument. More resources: Excelsior Online Writing Lab on Toulmin Argument.

The evaluating evidence part is taken from Writing 250 – Writing & Rhetoric Advanced Composition from Lumen.