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The Argumentative Environment By: Raphael Hyam Wednesday, May 12, 2010



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The Argumentative Environment

By: Raphael HyamWednesday, May 12, 2010

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• Aristotle’s philosophy of argument is embodied in his Rhetorical Approach. Aristotle's book, THE RHETORIC is generally considered the most important single work in the literature of Speech discipline. Book I of the The Rhetoric opens with the definition: “Rhetoric is the counterpart of Dialect.” The Rhetorical Approach may be descried as a process for discovering all of the available means of “artistic” persuasion on any subject. Aristotle believed that through the use of the rhetoric process (1) truth and justice may be guarded against falsehood and wrong; (2) debate may be conducted on subjects in the absence of absolute truth; (3) both sides of a claim may be presented; and (4) proof to establish the probability of a position may be developed.

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Three Elements of Proof

Aristotle’s persuasion involves the use of three elements of proof:

Logos, Pathos, and Ethos.

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• The logic and is the use of reason to support a decision. Logical appeals essentially present the situation, the alternatives, and the set of probabilities involved in the decision making process. Such as appeals are directed to our mind’s reasoning capabilities.

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• The emotion and is the appropriate use of emotional and motivational appeals to support a decision. Emotional appeals are directed to the wishes, wants, desires, goals, and needs of the person whose acceptance is desired. Such appeals are directed to the heart. A good arguer limits the role emotion plays in argumentation.

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• The use of source creditability to support a conclusion. Aristotle perceived ethos as a powerful proofs supplied by the source himself, and through which judgments could be made about his character, wisdom, and goodwill. Aristotle wrote, “Persuasion is achieved by the speaker’s personal character where the speech is also spoken as to make us think him credible. We believe good men more fully and more readily than others; this is true generally whatever the question is, and absolutely true where exact certainly is impossible and divided. The kind of persuasion, like the others should be achieved by what the speaker says, not by what people think of his character before he begins to speak.” Ethos is thus the image of the source held in the mind(s) audience, Source credibility can be developed in two ways.

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Source Credibility

Source credibility can be developed in two ways:

Initial ethos and Derived ethos.

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Initial ethos

• This ethos is based on the arguer's credentials, status, and reputation as known to the audience before they hear of read the content of the message. Advertisers have increasingly turned to “positive image makers” to sell their clients’ products. The idea is if you like them, you will be favorably disposed toward the product they are endorsing.

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Derived ethos

• This type of ethos results from what is said in the messages -- the quality of the logos and pathos used to get the argument accepted. This approach works best when the credibility of the sender is unknown to the audience at the outset of the speaker’s presentation.

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• The ancient Roman Rhetorician Cicero is known today for a great many contributions to Rhetoric. His influence is evidence by the facts that for more than a millennia after the fall of the Roman Empire, his work, De Inventione, was use as the basis for virtually all thought and training regarding rhetoric and its uses throughout Europe. Drawing on earlier Greek methods, Cicero completed his great work at the age of 21.

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Cicero’s Five Canons of Oratory

• Cicero’s primary contribution in De Inventione is his introduction of his five Canons of Rhetoric. Today, the five Canons Cicero proposed are still crucial to effective rhetoric. The five Canons are:

• Invention, Argumentation, Expression, Memory, and Delivery.

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• This involves the attempt on the part of an arguer to find out what he or she should say to any specific audience. This is often referred to as audience analysis. Cicero felt that no matter what the issue, for any argument that can be made, there exists an alternative suited to your audience. According to Cicero, it is up to the arguer to “discover,” or come up with these alternatives. Not only does this give the arguer something to talk about, but the originality of the argument “discovered” adds to the arguer’s credibility by highlighting logic and expertise.

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• Presentation is ordered and presented. Cicero understood that ordering the points, premises, and arguments can greatly enhance the overall effectiveness of the message. Arguments must be arranged in such a way that various things flow together, and so that the right thing is said at the right time, for maximum effect. Any political speech, for example, is arranged in such a way that initial statements support later statements, building toward the final goal.

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• Word choice is especially important for tailoring a message to a specific audience. A message whose words are carefully chosen for an audience will be easier for that audience to understand, and hence more likely to persuade. If the advocate uses words particular to his chosen group, then the audience is probably more likely to identify with the arguer, and thus again be more likely to persuade. Today, everywhere we look, we are assaulted with messages whose words are carefully crafter to appeal to specific groups. Virtually any advertisement on television, radio, website, magazine, billboard, etc, has been carefully crafter with this canon in mind.

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• Memory deals with the depth of knowledge of the subject matter possessed by the advocate. The basic difference between Cicero’s era, and today, in regards to memory, is technology. Of course at the time of Cicero’s work, man had not yet entered the age of the printer word, much less the electronic word, and Cicero lived in a largely oral culture. It was therefore very important to be able to memorize long speeches in order to five them effectively. However, with the modern proliferation of electronic devices, memorization of speeches is no longer a requirement.

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• The most important aspect of the oratory. Delivery deals with eh way that the advocate conducts himself. It covers a wide range of topics from the physical gestures used during a speech. To the tone of voice, and manner of speech used. Delivery contributes heavily to a speakers charisma. Gestures can be made to prove a point, and tone, inflection, a volume of the voice can be manipulated to influence the audience perception of the subject the arguer is addressing.

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Toulmin Approach to Argument

• Stephen Toulmin is one of the modern day leaders of rhetorical theory. He introduced a model of argument which contains six parts:

• Claims, Grounds, Warrants, Backing, Reservations/Rebuttals, and Qualifiers.

• In Toulmins work on logic and argument, The Uses of Argument, he defines the six parts that make up an argument.

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• This is the main point, the thesis, the controlling idea. The claim may be directly stated or the claim may be implied. You can find the claim by asking the question, “What is the advocate trying to prove?” In the sample argument, the conclusion you have reached is that your friends will lead successful lives. In this argument, the conclusion you have reached is that your friends will lead successful lives.

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• These are reasons given in support of the claim; they are also know as evidence, proof, or arguments. The support of a claim can come in form of facts and statistics, expert opinion, examples, explanations, and logical reasoning. You can find the support by asking “What does the advocate say to persuade the audience of the claim?” In this sample argument, the groups are that you have several friends who have obtained a college degree.

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• This is the Logical underlaying the argument. The warrant is some universal law of nature, legal principle of statue, rule of thumb, mathematical formula, or specific type of reasoning. Warrants usually begin with words like all, ever, any, anytime, whenever, or are if-then, either-or, statements. A general rule of logic is that from less than an absolute warrant no valid conclusions can be drawn. Warrants are also important because they provide the underlying reasons linking the claim and the grounds. You can infer the warrants by asking “What’s causing the advocate to say the things he/she does?” or “Where’s the advocate coming from?” For this argument, the warrant is that all people who graduate from college are successful.

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• Backing is the specific data which is used to justify and support the grounds and warrant. Critical thinkers realize that there must be backing for their statements or they are merely assertions. In the argument, the backing from the groups are the names of the specific friends who graduated from college. The backing for the warrant comes from the Los Angeles Times article that college graduates earn $1,000,000 more in their working lifetime than non-college graduates do.

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• They are the “unlesses” to the warrant. A rule of logic is that from less than an absolute warrant, no valid conclusion can be drawn. Thus, reservations do not change the wording of the warrant. That is, reservations do not change the “universality” of the warrant, but do mean that an appropriate qualifier fro the claim must be considered because these expectations exist. In one example, your uncle has a reservation to the warrant. He states that people who get a college degree will success, unless they are lazy. The “unless they are lazy” is the reservation to the warrant.

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• Arguments are all about probability and possibility, not about certainty, you should not use superlatives like, all, every, absolutely, or never, none, no one. Instead you may need to qualify your claim with expressions like many, probably, some or rarely, few, possible. Etc.

Toulmin states, “Any claim is presented with certain strengths or weakness, conditions, and/or limitations that are customarily used to mark these qualifications. Such adverbs are: presumably, in all probability, so far as the evidence goes, all things being equal, for all that we can tell, very likely possibly, maybe , apparently, plausibly, almost certainly, so it seems, etc. All of these phrases can be differed inserted into the claim being advanced, and as a result, would modify the claim indication what sort of reliance the support evidence entitles us to place on the claim.” In another sample argument, our uncle tells us that “most likely” that they ill become successful. The “most likely” is the qualifier.

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The End