In this video, we are going to talk about tips and strategies for making good arguments in your paper
Why do we argue?
What makes a good argument?
Why are so many arguments I hear on TV and in the news so bad?
We’re going to talk about all these questions and more!
First, why do we argue?
In college, most of the papers you write will be persuasive papers
That means you have to take a stance on an issue and try to convince your readers why your opinion is correct
The goal is not to belittle those with other opinions, but rather to learn and arrive at the truth
A good argument or debate should leave you with greater knowledge, understanding, and appreciation for differences of opinion
The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle had very particular ideas about what made a good argument
He saw three different types of reasoning or persuasion
Ethos refers to credibility. It is when you convince someone of your point because of your character, authority, or likeability. When you believe something is true because your teacher told you, this is ethos.
Pathos is emotions. Appealing to readers’ emotions can be a great way to strengthen your argument, but it should not be your only appeal. You might write about how a certain policy makes people suffer in terrible ways, but you should also talk about other aspects of the issue.
Finally, logos refers to logic. This is when you use reason to back up your claims. It was Aristotle’s favorite and is still the most important way to defend an argument. Let’s talk about logic in more detail.
There are two main types of logic or reasoning: deductive and inductive
In deductive logic, you reason from general statements to a conclusion that is certain to be true
Let’s read the following sentence:
“It’s sunny in Singapore. If it’s sunny in Singapore, he won’t be carrying an umbrella. So, he won’t be carrying an umbrella.”
If the two premises are true – one, that it is sunny, and two, that he doesn’t carry an umbrella when it is, then the conclusion is definitely true.
Inductive logic, on the other hand, reasons from claims that provide strong evidence, not certain proof.
Look at the example below:
Two witnesses claimed John committed the murder, and John’s fingerprints are the only ones on the murder weapon. So, John committed the murder. Right? Not so fast.
What if the witnesses are lying? What if the murderer wiped off his fingerprints first? What if someone is framing John? You can see how the reasoning gives strong evidence, but is not a 100% guarantee.
When you are using logic to make a point, you must avoid logical fallacies
These are common errors in reasoning that will undermine the logic of your argument
A lot of the “debates” you hear on TV, the radio, or in the news are so unconvincing and frustrating because they fall prey to logical fallacies
Let’s look at a few examples
A hasty generalization is a conclusion based on evidence that is insufficient or biased
A circular argument restates an argument rather than actually proving it
An either/or fallacy is a conclusion that oversimplifies the argument by reducing it to only two choices, when in reality there may be many more options
Ad hominem is an attack on the character of a person rather than his or her opinions and arguments
A red herring is a diversion that avoids key issues. Someone may sidestep opposing arguments rather than address them head-on
Finally, the straw man oversimplifies an opponent’s view, making it easier to attack
When you write an essay, remember to be on guard against these fallacies, and watch out for them when proofreading
Thanks for watching this video on how to defend an argument
Remember, the goal in writing is not to argue for the sake of arguing, but to arrive at truth and grow in learning
That is what your education at Bryan is all about!
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