Summary of the Argument Unit

You have now completed the unit on argument.  You should be able to do the following:

Analyze Argument2

The discourse you study is often part of a broader dispute.  People are having an argument about something.  What is that broader argument about? To what broader argument does this piece of discourse contribute?

  1. What is the proposition? Remember propositions are best stated as questions.  What is at dispute in the argument2?

  2. What are the potential issues?   This analysis generates the issues which any prudent speaker thinks through in regard to the claim.
    1. From stock issues
    2. From rhetorical situation
    3. From your analysis of the proposition

  3. What are the actual issues for this audience? Depends on your audience analysis. Identifies what issues a prudent speaker selects to make a part of his/her presentation.
  4. What is the speaker's thesis?   The thesis captures the speaker's position on the proposition.
  5. What reasons does the speaker give for your accepting his/her thesis? Many reasons will be presented, each supporting a position on an issue, and presented as several individual argument1s.
  6. Evaluate: How thoroughly do the speaker's claims address the actual issues?

Analyze an Argument1

  1. Identify claim and support.  It all begins with being able to differentiate claim and support.

  2. Evaluate the warranting of the claim.  You now have multiple ways of doing so:

    1. Using Toulmin.  The Toulmin method fundamentally asks whether the support warrants the claim.  You must have command of the warranting relationship between support and claim.
      1. Does the speaker offer support for the claim?
      2. Does the support warrant the claim for you? Why or why not?  This is the logical analysis.
      3. Is the support likely to warrant the claim for the audience? Why or why not? Rooted in your audience analysis.

    2. Using Fallacies.  Using fallacies depends on your being able to recognize the fallacies when they occur in arguments.
    3. By analyzing the evidence . The heart of this method is your memorizing the argument types and the tests. You must be able to recognize the argument types and the types of evidence presented by the speaker.
      1. Identify the source of the credibility of the evidence
      2. Apply the general tests
      3. Identify the type(s) of support for the claim
      4. Apply the specific tests for that type(s)
  3. With what strategies might the speaker have improved the argument?


To do these things you need to

  1. Master the vocabulary such as argument1, argument2, claim, support, issues, etc.
  2. Master the systems of vocabulary such as the tests of stories or the stock issues for claims of action
  3. Be able to deploy the vocabulary and the systems to do the evaluations that are at the heart of what this unit is about.


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