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Your assignments for Week 8 (February 19-23) are as follows:

  • Work on Seminar 4.  "Corporate Responsibility"  is a more complex subject than any of the previous topics you worked on.  Please use your critical thinking skills carefully.
  • Rough draft of Seminar 4 should be posted by February 20 for group editing.  When editing essays, be careful not to copy off ideas from others' essays.  Of course some of your ideas will be similar, but sometimes, you may accidentally borrow others' statements and specific ideas without realizing that you are plagiarizing.  This is one problem with online writing etc.  You have to be very careful of either deliberate or even accidental plagiarizing.  The penalties are not pleasant.
  • Final draft of Seminar 4 is due on February 23, by 6 p.m.
  • Side by side with the last Seminar paper, you need to work on your research.  The Outline of your Term Paper is due on February 26 and the rough draft is to be posted by March 2.  Yes, believe it or not, we are almost there!  The whole week 9 (February 26-March 2), you will work on your Term Paper draft. 
  • No more grammar tests but there will be a Documentation Test (a test on quotation rules, citation rules, and other information on the research process) during the 10th week (tentative date--Monday March 5)
  • Below, are few sites that will help you learn more about the research process.  You may click on each to find out about how to cite sources, how to incorporate quotations in your essays etc.  Make use of all these added facilities and do a good job with your Term Paper.

Check out these "cool" sites to help you with your documentation process:

Readings for Week 8:

From Elements of Argument:

  • Chapter 5--"Support."  There will be a brief lecture on this chapter under Assignment 5

From A Writer's Reference:

  • Read "Research Writing" section (pg 50-93)
  • Review  section on "Quotation marks," page 267-273 and "MLA Documentation," page 324-350.  Read through the Sample MLA Research Paper starting on page 351. 

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What's due this week and Next:

  • Rough draft of Seminar 4 to be posted on February 20 (instead of 16th) by 6 p.m.
  • Final draft of Seminar 4 to be posted on February 23 (instead of 20th) by 6 p.m.
  • The Working Outline of your Term Paper to be posted on February 26 (instead of 23rd) by 6 p.m.

 


Lecture

"Support"

Chapter 5
(Elements of Argument)

Throughout the quarter, we have been discussing what is "adequate development," or how to develop your ideas "coherently" and "logically," or what is meant by "concrete/specific" details.  This chapter will reinforce all these elements and help prepare you for your final major essay (TERM PAPER) in English 201.

Once you have made a Claim (or asserted your thesis) of FACT, or VALUE, or POLICY, it is absolutely essential that you support your claim to persuade/convince your readers into considering your argument on any given issue.

Types of Support: Evidence and Appeals:-

  • Evidence (a word I have been using over and over in my comments to your Seminar papers) is needed to prove/support your claim, and evidence includes facts and statistics; opinions (or interpretation of facts) of other experts and your own.

  • "The quality of support can be crucial in settling urgent matters" (153).

  • Appeals are often needed when you are offering "value judgments" in an argument.   Aristotle, once again, was the first rhetorician to come up with the three different kinds of appeals a writer (or speaker) could use to influence his/her audience:

    • Ethos (ethical/moral appeal)

    • Logos (logical appeal)

    • Pathos (emotional appeal)

1.    Evidence:

  • Factual Evidence: "Facts are statements possessing high degree of public acceptance" (154), that can be validated or verified.  Factual evidences include examples from real life (you can use your own experience and observations as part of this kind of evidence and interpret it as factual) and statistical information, or objective data.

    • Examples:   the most commonly used evidences used to support an argument.  These examples can be specific or hypothetical.

      • Specific examples:   Let's say you are arguing on sexual harassment issues.  To illustrate your point that harassment does occur in a covert form in a workplace even today, you may use a case study from a situation that you have had where you work.  It might have happened to you or a colleague of yours.

      • Hypothetical examples: Such examples help create a scenario so your readers can "visualize what might happen under certain circumstances" (155).  For example, when you wrote your essay on censoring (or not censoring) the Internet sites for our children, some of you expressed your opinion that if the government were given the power to censor Internet sites, then soon it (the government) will begin censoring other media and thereby jeopardizing our First Amendment Rights.  To illustrate your point, you used certain hypothetical situations like college newspapers (which should never be censored), the adult magazines, and adult movies--all of which exist due to our Freedom of Choice.

    • Statistics: Objective data that involves numerical information--like, for example, when a writer claims that 85% people involved in vehicular crashes in Washington state in 2000 were saved because they were wearing seat belts. 

      • Even though stark and "grim," numbers convey very quickly the seriousness and the immediacy of a situation.

      • Statistics are effective when making choices as to which solution is better than another, or which situation is worse than another etc.

      • Similarly, diagrams, tables, charts, and graphs also fall under this category; they are numbers and data that can be verified and validated.

    • Opinions:   Interpretations of the Facts: Facts by themselves are not always sufficient to prove your point; sometimes you need to interpret these facts to come to your own "inferences."  For example, in an essay on death penalty issues, a writer may infer that it is better to approve of capital punishment despite the high cost of carrying through with the process because when we add all the expenses of a life sentence, the expenditure may prove to be much higher. Opinions and Interpretations help readers (people) decide "what actions they should take" (157).

      • Causal Connection: Often a writer can infer a cause and effect relationship from existing facts.  For example, why is it a good idea to close all corner movie theaters down and support the multiplexes; of course, the little theaters are losing money.

      • Predictions about the Future: Based on existing facts/numbers, future course of action for the benefit of individual or society can be suggested.

      • Solutions to Problems: Often this is a very common technique used in any situation where the issue can be set up as a problem (this is what I suggested to many of you in terms of handling your Term Paper topics).  Let's say the topic is "Teenage Pregnancy."   The writer can set it up as a Problem, then he/she can Analyze the problem (by discussing the causes and definitely the effects of teenage pregnancy) and suggest a Solution or methods to Solve the problem.

      • Expert Opinions: Whenever you are writing an argumentative essay, it is absolutely essential that you incorporate sufficient opinions expressed by authoritative figures like writers, experts on the field, scientists, research studies, and so on.  They too, by the way, are inferring upon existing facts (sometimes, you need to evaluate their opinions too).

2.    Evaluation of Evidence:

As a conscientious writer and arguer, you should always evaluate expert opinions and even questionable facts.   A successful evaluation will help you determine whether your readers will be convinced by the facts and the expert opinions you are using to support your ideas.   (This is one reason why many educators--including me--believe that Internet is not the best resource unless you really know who the authors are, what kind of evidences they base their claims on, etc.)

  • Evaluation of Factual Evidence: To determine the worth of your resources, you need to ask the following questions:

    • Is the evidence up to date?  "'New' does not always mean 'best,' but in fields where research is ongoing -- education, psychology, technology, medicine, and all natural and physical sciences -- you should be sensitive to the dates of the research" (160).

    • Is the evidence sufficient?   Adequacy is a vague word, but that is what your support should be: adequate -- no more, no less.  "The amount of evidence you need depends on the complexity of the subject and the length of your paper. . . . For a 750-1,000-word paper, three or four examples would probably be sufficient" (161).

    • Is the evidence relevant?  Sometimes in the course of your argument, it is easy to lose focus and bring in evidences/examples that do not directly support or advance your point-of-view.  You need to use evidences that directly speak for your point-of-view.  Keep in mind, however, that your readers may not always agree on the relevancy of your evidence, especially if they do not agree with your view.

    • Are the examples representative? Do not use all and too many examples. 

    • Are the examples consistent with the experience of the audience? Your reader will also have their own examples or counter examples.  "If your examples are unfamiliar or extreme, they will probably reject your conclusion" (162).

    NOTE: Your text includes an example or situation to clarify each of the above questions.  Please read them.

  • Evaluation of Statistics:  Just as you would question the evidences you should also question the validity of the Statistical evidences.

    • Do the statistics come from trustworthy sources? 
      (a)  "Hearsay statistics should be treated with . . . skepticism" (163). 
      (b)  Surveys of the population are becoming more and more common these days and can be relied on.  For example, if you are writing an essay on the North-South Freeway the city is planning to build and would like to find out the common people's reactions to this proposal, the best way to do that would be to gather a random sampling of responses from the SCC students, faculty, stuff, and administrators.  After all, they are the ones that would be really affected by this freeway.

    • Are the terms clearly defined and the comparison terms clearly established?  "Any statistics would be meaningless" unless readers know how certain important terms are defined by the user (163).  For example, the term "sexual harassment."   People may define this term in their own different ways.  Therefore, before you introduce any statistical evidences related to this issue, you--the writer--should clearly define the term as you want your readers to see it.

    • Has any significant information been omitted? Do not trick your readers.   Advertisements have been known to do that.  Your argument will lose credibility if your readers discover that you are misrepresenting your evidences.

    NOTE:  All these cautionary measures are easy to understand but often difficult to adhere to.  What you need to be aware of is that you do your research carefully and not make any careless representation or use any details that were overlooked.  Remember--NO PLAGIARIZING either .   Always give credit (i.e. document/cite) to your sources.

  • Evaluation of Opinions: It is very important that you question the "reliability" of the so-called expert opinions you choose to incorporate in your essays.  To evaluate your sources, ask the following questions:

    • Is the source of the opinion qualified to give an opinion on the subject?  What you are looking for is the credibility of the authors.  Any respectable collection of opinions will provide you with author credentials, like your text does with every essay you have read from it.  

      • Credentials are based on information like whether the article is from a reputable publication or from a reputable educational or other institution.  If the opinion is not related to an acceptable/identifiable source, then be cautious in using it

      • Even if the source of the opinion can be identified, you should still question whether the credentials are authoritative, that is relevant to the field which is under discussion.

    • Is the source biased for or against his/her interpretation? Everyone, whether an authority or a layman, is biased toward his/her belief/values.  An easy source of this kind of biased opinion is advertisements of any product.  The proponents of the product (the business people, the promoters, and even the actors that play the role in the ad) are, without question, biased towards the product and the more effort they can put to make this product attractive, the better chance they have of making good profit. 

      • Once again before accepting every and all opinions, ask yourself why you would like to use this particular opinion; how does it advance your argument; how important it is to support your own opinion etc.

      • One problem arises when you are confronted with "ideological bias" (166), which arise from our value system and our beliefs that we grow up with.  As a result, an argument will always seem "biased" to the readers that do not agree with the writer.  This is a problem we cannot solve.

    • Has the source bolstered the claim with sufficient and appropriate evidence? As a writer, you should always ask whether the evidence carries believable statistics and find out what the source is ("Who compiled them" [166]).

It is a known fact that even experts disagree on every issue.  If you listen to any reputable talk shows or discussion like Crossfire, Larry King Live, or Jim Lehrer News Hour, you will find this to be true.  Learn what you need to do in such cases, whom to believe, and which direction to take from page 166-168 of your text book.

  • Basically, you need to learn the above information, as summarized from your text; however, your reading will not be complete unless you also learn that whenever we are writing an essay, it will not be free of emotions. 

  • Aristotle said that a good rhetoric (or an effective argument) should be based on ETHOS (ethical/moral appeal) and LOGOS (logical appeal).  Nevertheless, he also said that in our attempt to convince, persuade, or move our readers, we will have to depend on some quantity of PATHOS (emotional appeal) as well.  

  • You cannot ignore, for example, some emotion when arguing the fact that our children are being harmed by the atrocities of uncensored Internet sites and T.V. violence.  Any parent or any ethical individual who regards any type of social vices as degrading and harmful to our future generation will buy into your emotional appeal.  Properly done, you can convince, persuade, and move your audience into believing that giving up some basic rights (assured by the First Amendment) is worth our attempt to build a moral, stronger, and more productive society.

Appeals to Needs and Values:

Please read this section from the text.  Also read the two very revealing essays on animal research, one for and one against it (pages 193-197).


  • NOTE:
    This concludes the lecture on textual information. 

  • It is now your turn to show me you understand the argumentation process: to make an effective claim and support your claim with adequate and quality evidences. 

  • All of what you learned in this course should reflect in your Term Paper, which would stand as an evidence to your training in Argumentation.

  • Once again I would like to remind you that you SHOULD SAVE YOUR TERM PAPER for future references.  More and more four-year colleges are asking (in place of recommendation letters) to see what kind of a researched essay you have learned to write, especially in English 201.  Your Term Paper--which goes into your portfolio of assignments--should make you proud of what you can do.

  • Moreover, since this is your final essay (not counting the film review at the end) in this course, I will be strict with my grading.   Please do well while also enjoying the process

 
Contents within this site are copyrighted by both the author of essays and/or Mita Sen
(email msen@scc.spokane.edu)
The contents within these pages are solely those of the author and S.C.C.
should not be held responsible.  2005 and 2006
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