Chapter 8 How Do We Develop And Organize Arguments

Organizing Rhetorically

  • Since there are many ways to arrange an argument, we must think carefully about our audience, purpose, and the linkages among our claims and supports in order to select the best structure
  • We aim to select a structure that meets our audiences' needs and helps us achieve our purpose

Techniques For Organizing Your Thoughts

  • Visualize your organization
  • Experiment with maps, graphics, and software
  • Create a reverse outline (after writing a draft, outline what was written to see whether the organization is working)

Developing Your Arguments

Arguments about existence and fact

  • Existence arguments rely on observable evidence for support since audiences tend to hold stubbornly to what they think exists or is true or factual

Arguments About Definition

  • To make a definitional argument, we must first settle on a definition that the audience will accept

Arguments About Cause and Consequences

  • Arguments that try to establish a causal link are one of the most difficult cases to make (hard to link a cause and effect without confusing cause with correlation)

Arguments About Evaluation

  • Can stand alone and sometimes become part of larger arguments
  • Begin evaluation arguments by establishing criteria by which we will judge the case at hand (criteria must be based in values shared by the audience)
  • Tend to be complex and compelling, especially when they involve competing values
  • The structure we choose can help promote synthesis

Arguments About Policy

  • Used when writing a proposal argument which describes a problem, presents solutions, and justifies a course of action

Select Scholarly Arrangements

The Scholarly Model

  1. Introduction
  2. Background
  3. Support
  4. Consideration of Alternative Arguments
  5. Conclusion

Scholarly Moves

  1. Start with what others have said (scholars rarely assert their own position before they've first acknowledged what others have said)
    • to familiarize readers with the context and place our argument within a scholarly conversation
    • to verify assumptions, methods, or research questions
    • to demonstrate that we've done our homework by reviewing previous research
  2. Highlight agreement before disagreement
  3. Put your best foot forward

Organize Your Revision

  • Add transitions
  • Unify your argument (repeat key words throughout the argument)
  • Design your document (influences how our message comes across)

Structure Your Writing Process

  • Break the assignment into series of manageable tasks; then assign a deadline for each task
  • Break a long assignment into chunks
  • Get feedback long the way
  • Don't insist on following a fixed or linear plan
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