Introduction to Argument Writing

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1 I. Argument vs. Persuasive: What s the difference? Goal Tools to Convince Argument Convince audience of the rightness of the claims Logic Warrants Backing Rebuttals Persuasive Convince audience Emotional appeal Style Favorable evidence Persuasive writing is similar to advertising or propaganda. II. Elements of Argument 1. Claim: What you are trying to prove; the point; the thesis 2. : Data that substantiates the claim 3. Warrant: Explains why or how the evidence supports the claim 4. Backing: Extended definitions to explain warrant, if necessary 5. Qualifications: Probably, Most likely, Often, *All arguments are arguments of probability because we can never know with 100% certainty 6. Rebuttal: Response to counterarguments Everything supports and strengthens the claim!

2 III. Comparison to Literary Analysis Literary Analysis Thesis Statement Topic Sentence Text Quotation Concrete Detail Reasoning Explanation Commentary Argument Claim Research Data Warrant Backing

3 IV. Practice Identifying Claims and, Relevant, and Irrelevant Directions: Identify the claim and the evidence. Set 1: A. Curved streets discourage speeding cars. B. For residential neighborhoods, curved streets have advantages. C. The graceful lines of curved streets are more attractive than straight lines. Set 2: A. In stores, at bus stops, and at theaters, people are expected to wait for their turn in line. B. In cities, many everyday activities occur according to a system of rules. C. In North America, pedestrians keep to the right as a way to avoid running into others. D. Drivers are expected to stick to one side of the road. Set 3: A. In recent years, 62 percent of all traffic deaths took place at night. B. The chances of being in a fatal accident are nearly four times greater at night than during the day. C. Driving at night is less safe than driving in the daytime. D. Many dangerous corners and curves are poorly lit or unlit at night. Set 4: A. Dinosaur fossils teach us about animals that are now extinct. B. Fossils have recorded much about the past of the Earth and its inhabitants. C. Fossils of ferns found in the Arctic suggest climatic changes. D. Seashell fossils found high in the mountains indicate that those areas were once covered by salt water.

4 Directions: Identify the relevant evidence for each claim. 1. Claim: Selling cigarettes ought to be against the law. A. Cigarette smoking kills many more people than all illegal drugs combined. B. Today, tobacco growing is actually supported by government subsidies. C. Smoking makes clothing smell bad and stains teeth. D. Alcohol is another legal drug that kills numerous Americans every year. E. Nonsmokers are endangered by breathing the smoke from others cigarettes. F. Tobacco is one of the most addictive of all drugs. Items that logically support the claim: 2. Claim: Taking good care of a pet is healthy for the pet owner. A. Before-and-after studies have shown that petting an animal causes a decrease in many people s blood pressure. B. Owning a dog that needs a daily walk can encourage a senior citizen to get some much needed exercise. C. Most people can easily afford the expense of pet food and veterinary care. D. According to the National Pet Owners Survey, 63 percent of American households own a pet. E. The American Heart Association has said that pet owners are more likely to survive during the first year after a heart attack than people who don t own pets. F. In addition to cats and dogs, people have fish, birds, snakes, pigs, and even insects for pets. Items that logically support the claim:

5 Directions: Identify the irrelevant evidence in each paragraph. Paragraph 1: 1)Getting rid of the eyesores in a neighborhood does more than simply beautify; it can improve the economic and social life of an area. 2) Not long ago, a neighborhood in Philadelphia decided to improve its appearance by planting a community garden and installing trashcans. 3) As a result, neighbors spent more time together outdoors. 4) Thus graffiti writers and more serious offenders were discouraged from frequenting the area. 5) The cleaner streets and safer atmosphere also attracted more customers to local businesses. 6) Additional police on the streets also keep streets safer. 1. Which sentence does not support the author s conclusion that getting rid of community eyesores can improve the local economic and social life? Paragraph 2: 1) Some people argue that music videos have hurt popular music by emphasizing looks rather than the music itself. 2) In fact, though, what music videos have done is bring new attention to another art form: dance. 3) Today, talented dancers can become top-name entertainers after being showcased by music videos. 4) Pop star Paula Abdul, for example, gained fame as a choreographer and dancer in music videos. 5) Ten or twenty years ago, dancers had far fewer opportunities to become known. 6) The music video industry has also created hundreds of new job opportunities for video producers, directors, and technicians. 7) Thanks to videos, dance is showcased in a way not seen since the days of song-and-dance musicals in the 1940s and 1950s. 2. Which sentence does not support the author s conclusion that music videos have brought new attention to dance? Paragraph 3: 1) Be sure to include organic food in your supermarket basket. 2) First of all, eating organic produce may be good for you. 3) Also, organic food is becoming more and more popular. 4) Nonorganic fruits, vegetables and grains are sprayed with pesticides; some of them, such as strawberries, are treated with a great deal of pesticides. 5) And some scientists believe that consuming pesticides over many years may turn out to cause cancer or other diseases. 6) In fact, some farmers are beginning to notice that they are getting sick themselves from using so many pesticides. 7) Furthermore, organic farmers tend to build up and enrich the soil better than nonorganic farmers do. 8) Their methods are not only better for the Earth; they tend to produce better tasting fruits and vegetables. 3. Which of the following sentences does not support the author s argument that it s a good idea to buy organic food?

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