Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Blog Assignment #3

1. Explain what “to give an argument” means in this book. "To give an argument," is specifically defined by the book as offering a set of reasons or evidence in support of a conclusion. The book instructs us to go beyond simply stating one's position on a matter but to actually present logically flowing evidence that supports that position. The book tells us to learn how to use argument giving for inquiry. This means that we should examine an issue and present several conclusions then examine those conclusions to determine which is the best. We do this by examining the premise(s) upon which the conclusions were founded. A premise is a logical reason in support of a conclusion. Therefore, giving an argument means to examine an issue, present a conclusion, and support it with a good set of premises.

2. What are the reasons Weston gives in support of his claim, “arguments are essential”? The first reason Weston gives in support of the claim, "arguments are essential" is that argument is a way of trying to find out which views are best. Unless we constantly question views by use of arguments, we have no way of knowing which views are better and more logical than others. Many issues in our society don't have clear cut answers and we have to use arguments to dig deeper into the basis of these issues and try to understand the chain of logic that makes people arrive at certain conclusions about those issues. The second reason Weston gives is that we must use arguments to defend our conclusions. Once we have examined an issue thoroughly and arrived at a specific conclusion about it, we must use argument to defend it. Weston emphasizes that an argument does not just restate conclusions, but rather gives reasons in support of those conclusions. Therefore, arguments are essential because we need them to examine which beliefs are best and defend those beliefs.

3. Explain why many students tend to “write an essay, but not an argument”. The book explains that our pre-college school system teaches us to "report" information rather than "argue" about the basis of its claims. In this way, once most students get to college and are assigned argumentative essays, they tend to state their position very elaborately but fail to give solid reasons for their conclusions. Many college classes, such as this one, challenge us to question our beliefs and determine which are best. When constructing an argument, students must remember that stating a position is not good enough; solid reasons and examples must be given in support of the conclusions, otherwise the paper is just an essay and not an actual argument.

4. Construct two short arguments (one "for" and one "against") as modeled in the Week 3 Assignment section in Blackboard. Put each one in "elements form".

Arguable issue
: Whether or not one should litter (throw waste material away in a non-designated area)
Conclusion: It is okay to litter
Premises: It is okay to litter because
(1) It is a law that is easy and funny to break
(2) The chance of getting caught is slim, and
(3) It is convenient to throw away trash on the ground

Arguable issue: Whether or not one should litter (throw waste material away in a non-designated area)
Conclusion: It is not okay to litter
Premises: It is not okay to litter because
(1) It generates pollution
(2) It can hurt animals if they ingest it, and
(3) It is unpleasant to look at

5. Review the seven rules in chapter one. Briefly discuss how your argument demonstrates that each rule was applied, in the construction of your arguments above. The first rule asks us to clearly distinguish premises and conclusions and my argument does this by clearly stating a conclusion and listing reasons in support of it. The second rule asks us to present our ideas in a natural order and my arguments do this by arranging reasons in a logical order in support of my conclusion. The third rule asks us to start from reliable premises and my arguments do this by giving the simplest and clearest reasons in support of my conclusions. The fourth rule asks us to be concrete and concise and my arguments do this by avoiding the use of unnecessarily large words or complex sentence structure. The fifth rule asks us to avoid "loaded" language that is biased and emotional. My arguments do this for the most part except the part where I argued that littering is funny. This would be an example of loaded language and I will avoid this next time. The sixth rule asks us to use consistent terms and my arguments do this by utilizing a logical flow of ideas. For instance, it is funny and easy to break littering laws. If one does decide to litter, the chances of getting caught are slim. Furthermore it is convenient to litter. Therefore, it is okay to litter. The seventh rule asks us to stick to one rule for each term and my arguments do this by clearly hinting that littering is the act of throwing garbage away in a non-designated area and not straying from that definition.

6. Review the three rules in the appendix named, “Definitions”. In your own words, discuss how you took these rules into consideration as you constructed your arguments. Rule one tells us that when terms are unclear we should get specific. My arguments were very clear about the definition of littering so that a reader will understand that littering is the act of throwing trash away in a non-designated area. The second rule tells us that when a term is contested, we should work from the clear cases. My definition of littering does this by including what littering could be considered as, excluding what it clearly is not, and drawing the line in-between. The third rule tells us that we should not expect definitions to do the work of arguments. My conclusions rely mainly on their premises for support and therefore avoid this problem.

7. Good posts demonstrate:

* Sincere reflection, effort, and analysis
* Answers that are substantial (at least one large paragraph each)
* Consistent mention, citation, and integration of the assigned readings (explained in YOUR own words, though)
* Correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation
* Correctly titled posts!

How many points do you honestly feel your post this week deserves? Justify your answer. I feel that my post deserves all 25 points because I followed the directions to the best of my ability and went into detail to explain why I felt that my methods of argument followed all the rules given in the textbook.

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