Communication Skills: Reading and Evaluating Arguments

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This lesson will assist students in recognizing the elements of an argument, the types of arguments and errors in logical reasoning as well as to evaluate arguments

1. Reading and Evaluating
2. Learning Objectives:
_ To recognize the elements of an argument
~ To recognize types of arguments
» To evaluate arguments
» To recognize errors in logical reasoning

An argument presents logical reasons
and evidence to support a viewpoint

4. Parts of an Argument
_ ISSUE - problem or controversy about
which people disagree
» CLAIM - the position on the issue
» SUPPORT - reasons and evidence that
the claim is reasonable and should be
= REFUTATION - opposing viewpoints
5. Types of Claims
~ CLAIM OF FACT - statement that can be
proven or verified by observation or
» “Within ten years, destruction
of rain forests will cause
hundreds of plant and animal
species to become extinct.”
6. Types of Claims
~ CLAIM OF VALUE - states that one thing
or idea is better or more desirable than
» “Requiring community service
in high school will produce more
community-aware graduates. ”
7. Types of Claims
~ CLAIM OF POLICY - suggests what
should or ought to be done to solve a
» “To reduce school violence, more gun and
metal detectors should be installed in
public schools.”
8. Types of Support
~ REASON - a general statement that
supports a claim.
» EVIDENCE - consists of facts, statistics,
experiences, comparisons, and examples
that show why the claim is valid.
= EMOTIONAL APPEALS - ideas that are
targeted toward needs or values that
readers are likely to care about.
9. Inductive and Deductive Arguments
_ INDUCTIVE - reaches a general
conclusion from observed specifics.
~ “By observing the performance of a large
number of athletes, you could conclude
that athletes possess physical stamina.”

10. Inductive and Deductive Arguments
~ DEDUCTIVE - begins with a major
premise and moves toward a more
specific statement or minor premise.
» “Athletes possess physical stamina.
Because Anthony is an athlete, he must
possess physical stamina.”

11. Strategies for Reading an Argument
» What does the title suggest? Preview!
» Who is the author, and what are his or her
= What is the date of publication?
= What do | already know about the issue?
12. Strategies for Reading an Argument
» Read once for an initial impression.
» Read the argument several more times.
= Annotate as you read.
= Highlight key terms.
= Diagram or map to analyze structure.
13. Strategies for Evaluating Arguments
_ Evaluate Types of Evidence - Is it
sufficient to support the claim?
» Personal Experience - may be biased, so
do not accept it
» Examples - should not be used by
14. Strategies for Evaluating Arguments
_ Statistics - can be misused, manipulated
or misinterpreted.
» Comparisons and Analogies - reliability
depends on how closely they correspond
to the situation.
= Relevancy and Sufficiency of Evidence - is
there enough of the right kind to support
the claim?
15. Strategies for Evaluating Arguments
_ Definition of Terms - should be carefully
defined and used consistently
» Cause-Effect Relationships - evidence that
the relationship exists should be present
= Implied or Stated Value System - are they
consistent with your personal value
16. Strategies for Evaluating Arguments
~ Recognizing and Refuting Opposing
Question the accuracy, relevancy or
sufficiency of the opponent’ s evidence.
Does the author address opposing viewpoints
clearly and fairly?
Does the author refute the opposing viewpoint
with logic and relevant evidence?
17. Strategies for Evaluating Arguments
~ Unfair Emotional Appeals
Emotionally Charged or Biased Language
False Authority
= athletes endorsing underwear
= movie stars selling shampoo
= acar being named a Cougar to remind you of a
sleek animal
= a cigarette advertisement featuring a scenic
18. Strategies for Evaluating Arguments
~ Unfair Emotional Appeals
Appeal to “Common Folk”
= an ad showing a product being used in an average
= a politician suggesting he is like everyone else
Ad Hominem - attack on the person rather
than his/her viewpoint
“Join the Crowd” Appeal or Bandwagon
19. For Each Argument:
— Identify the claim.
~ Outline the reasons to support the claim.
» What types of evidence are used?
» Evaluate the adequacy and sufficiency of
the evidence.
= What emotional appeals are used?
= Does the author recognize or refute
counter arguments?