Chapter 7 Argument

7.1 Welcome Back

7.2 To-do list (Week 11, finish before 3/31)

  • Watch: Week 11 to-do list

  • Reflection on evaluating evidence. Post and comment on Blackboard.

  • Reading: Brockriede and Ehninger, “Toulmin on Argument.”

    • Define the following terms: Claim, Acknowledgment (Rebuttal), Warrant, Reason (Data), Backing
  • Finish the Toulmin model exercises on Blackboard

  • Write your argument in a similar structure as the Toulmin model. Post and comment on Blackboard.

7.3 Evidence

  • Watch Moon Hoax.

    • Are the evidence convincing? Why?
  • Watch Could deepfakes weaken democracy? | The Economist

  • Write a short (one-page) reflective essay answering this question: how do we evaluate evidence? Post in on Blackboard’s discussion forum (named as Evidence). Comment on two students’ arguments.

7.4 Toulmin Model

  • Finish the reading posted on Blackboard and try to define the following terms in your own words: Claim, Acknowledgment (Rebuttal), Warrant, Reason (Data), Backing.

7.4.1 Toulmin Model Exercise (post your answers on Blackboard)

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.

7.5 Write Your Argument

  • Write your argument in a similar structure as Toulmin model and post it on the discussion forum

  • Comment on and offer a rebuttal to two students’ arguments on the Toulmin discussion forum

7.6 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.