Arguments: Analyzing Issues
Defining Issue Analysis
- Campbell and Huxman: "a fundamental point in dispute, a question crucial in making a decision, choosing a stance, or selecting a course of action."
- In strategic discourse, an issue is a point on which an audience will require support to give their agreement to a claim. Discovering issues is a matter of understanding what the audience will require as support given the claim that you are making.
- Issues are critical in argument2. Issues define the points of dispute between those having the argument about a proposition. You should be able to extract the issues from the argument2
- Issues are best formed as questions which focus on the questions to be answered in argument2. Thus: Are there sufficient parking spaces on campus?
- Most often used to analyze support for a thesis
- To evaluate the sufficiency of support for an claim
- Two kinds of evaluation
- logical sufficiency: Has the support been provided to prove the claim?
- audience sufficiency: Have the obstacles to the audience's believing the claim been removed?
A Vocabulary for Issue Analysis
- Issues: Points of Dispute.
- Potential Issues: A set of possible points on which an audience might
doubt a claim. Notice that potential issues come not from audience analysis
but from analysis of the claim. They are best generated by carefully studying
the claim and dividing it into the things it asserts. You can also use stock
issues to identify potential issues.
- Stock Issues: A standard set of potential issues that you can apply
to a particular type of claim. One way of generating potential issues is to
(1) identify the claim, then (2) use the stock issues to give you a list.
- Actual Issues: Potential issues that with a particular audience
require support. Notice that audience analysis applied to potential issues
is what identifies actual issues for you.
Identifying Issues in Argument2
When you have arguments for and against a proposition or claim, you can identify the arguments on which the outcome of the argument turns.
- Determine the proposition at risk in the argument2
- Catalog the points of dispute between the proponent and respondent in the argument2 . These are actual issues.
- Catalog the claims made by the proponent of the proposition in argument1 supporting the proposition. These are potential issues.
- Identify the claims of the proponent on which the respondent to the argument agrees with the proponent or does not address. These are NOT actual issues.
- Identity the claims of the proponent to which the respondent objects. These ARE actual issues.
- Catalog the claims of the argument1 presented by the respondent and not initially addressed by the proponent. These are potential issues.
- Identify the claims of the respondent on which the proponent to the argument agrees with the respondent or does not address. These are NOT actual issues.
- Identity the claims of the respondent to which the proponent objects. These ARE actual issues.
- You are now able to evaluate the argument1 of proponent and respondent on the actual issues using logical or audience analysis.
Using Stock Issues
- A standard set of issues which generally can be asked on a type of claim
- Example: on policy (See Campbell and Huxman)
- Is there a compelling need to change the current policy?
- Is there an alternative policy?
- Is the alternative policy practical and beneficial?
- Example 2: on judgement:
- What is a proper criterion (or definition) for success (or some other
- Does the thing we are evaluating fulfill that criterion?
Using Issues to Evaluate Support
- Isolate the thesis: The thesis is the main claim of the
speech. You learned to do this above
- Determine the potential issues in the thesis: Ask: What
are the possible points of dispute on which acceptance of the claim depends?
The best way to do this is simply to ask yourself how you might go about denying
your claim. But stock issues are another way of identifying potential issues.
- Use audience analysis to locate the actual issues with a particular audience:
Which of the issues will the speaker need to support with this particular
- Evaluate the speaker's identification of issues: Compare your list
of issues that require support with the claims and support offered by the
speaker. If you find no claims related to your identified issues, the speaker
is failing to support his/her thesis. Ask: What issues has the speaker failed
- Evaluate the argument for the speech's claims: You are
now ready to evaluate the support provided for the speaker's claims. Ask:
On what issues hasn't the speaker warranted his/her claim?
Study aid to test your ability to analyze issues