The Art of Argument


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Obama and Clinton are much alike, and Obama has given Clinton his endorsement. Republican: Still, I think you overstate the case. There seems to be a significant distaste for the way things are run in Washington. Democrat: You may be right. Still, I think that Clinton will probably qualifier be our next president—unless this election turns into a referendum on the political class rebuttal or she fails to energize the Obama constituency.

Identifying arguments is complicated by the fact that most exchanges offer multiple arguments, whereas claims, once accepted, become grounds for additional arguments. For example, a doctor may diagnose you with appendicitis claim based on your symptoms grounds and what medical research indicates those symptoms signify warrant , and then use that claim as grounds for an additional claim that you should have your appendix removed.

The components of the Toulmin model are a lot to take in, and the elements are often implied rather than stated in many arguments. In most exchanges, advocates do not have the luxury of calling a time-out to diagram the argument to check it for completeness. Reactions are often a bit more spontaneous as we naturally consider clarity of claim, quality of support, and the connection between the two without throwing around all of the jargon from the Toulmin model. In most cases, it is sufficient to present arguments in a clear fashion by 1 offering a claim, 2 explaining how we arrived at that conclusion, 3 offering needed support, and 4 concluding with a statement of the importance of the argument.

The components of the Toulmin model are easily accommodated in this structure, which we explain in more detail in Chapter As you listen to the arguments of others, you are attempting to understand and assess their reasoning process.


  • Academic Tools.
  • Art of Argument Package.
  • State-of-the-Art: The Structure of Argumentation | SpringerLink.

In other cases, fallacies are innocent occurrences inadvertently committed by an advocate. In either case, you are being asked to accept a suspect conclusion. One who accidentally engages in fallacious reasoning is not necessarily committing an ethical breach unless there is an intent to mislead. Observing a consistent pattern of shoddy reasoning in speakers leads us to be more skeptical of their opinions.

A pattern of misbehavior undermines the credibility of an advocate, calling their trustworthiness, honesty, and sincerity into question. There is a great deal of literature about logical fallacies. Offering a conclusion based on insufficient data represents a hasty generalization. It is helpful to think about this fallacy in quantitative terms: a general conclusion is supported by insufficient or unrepresentative examples.

When Bernie Sanders, a contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, claimed that politicians are all corrupted by the influence of big-money lobbyists or that American businesses are motivated only by greed, he was committing the fallacy of hasty generalization.