Some theorists of argumentation seem to believe that we should consider the purpose of argumentation to be persuasion. Although persuasion is a purpose of argumentation on some occasions, we must recognize that argumentation can and does fulfill another equally important purpose, namely inquiry.
- Jack Meiland, Argument as Inquiry
The course will be divided between understanding argument through analysis and practicing argument through composition. Diverse media will be examined, including written and oral discourse, film, and a variety of sources available on the internet. The dual emphasis throughout will be on the function of argument as a form of persuasion, by which communicators attempt to convince others, and as a form of inquiry, through which communicators assess the strength of their own convictions.
Course Materials. In addition to handouts that will be distributed in class, we will use two required books you can purchase through the SMC bookstore, several that I have placed on Saint Mary's library reserve, and several that are available in the form of electronic texts, which you can access through their uniform resource locators and through links on my faculty web page.
Sylvan Barnet and Hugo Bedau, Current Issues and Enduring Questions: A Guide to Critical Thinking and Argument, St. Martin's Press, 1996. (required)
Barry Eckhouse, Competitive Communication: Classical Rhetoric for Modern Business, Second Edition, McGraw-Hill Publishing Co., 1994. (required)
Introduction to argumentation and persuasion. Discussion of critical concepts and distinctions: argument and quarrel; argument, logic, and reasoning; assertion and argument; argument and persuasion. A visit to Monty Python's "Argument Clinic." Definitions, purposes, and goals of argumentation. Occasions of argumentative and persuasive practice. Some examples of argumentation.
Please read for the next class meeting: Current Issues and Enduring Questions: pages 1-86 - give special attention to pages 73-86 (Chapter 4), the section on "Analyzing an Argument."
Please go to In Orbit Around the Web and read Section I: The Structure and Support of Propositions in Fundamentals of Argumentation. Also please go to How to Win an Argument with a Meat Eater and read the arguments listed.
Argument and analysis. The basics of analysis: thesis, purpose, methods, and persona. Introduction to rhetorical appeals: ethos, logos, pathos. Review of Scott's "Smoker's Get a Raw Deal," Alda's "Reel Doctor," and Singer's "Animal Liberation."
Please read for the next class meeting: Current Issues and Enduring Questions: pp. 758 - 774, the section "A Logician's View." Read also pp. 111-118, Jonathan Swift's Modest Proposal. Please go to the Tech Classics Archive, find Machiavelli's The Prince, and read the opening letter, to Lorenzo D'Medici.
Argument and analysis. A closer look at logos: deduction, induction, and analogy. Analysis of Niccolo Machiavelli's cover letter to Lorenzo The Magnificent in The Prince and Jonathan Swift's "Modest Proposal."
Please read for the next class meeting, handout: "Textual Rhetoric: The Glossary." Please also read Richard Nixon, "The Fund" from Six Crises and "My Side of the Story," from Vital Speeches of the Day. Go to the Richard Nixon World-Wide Web Library, follow the link to his one-page biography and read it.
Argument and analysis. Structural and textual rhetoric. Figures and tropes. Antithesis, metaphor, hyperbole, litotes, metonymy, rhetorical questions, praeteritio, and others. Oral argument. Analysis of Richard Nixon's "Checkers" speech, first the text and then the videotape of the 1952 television broadcast.
Please read for next class: Current Issues and Enduring Questions: pp. 774-784 (section on fallacies); Competitive Communication: pp. 149-190. From the World-Wide Web, please locate, download, and read: Stephen Downe's "Guide to the Logical Fallacies".
Argument and Analysis. Ethics and Argument. Some fallacies of argumentation. Ad hominem; ad verecundiam; ad populum; ad ignorantium; post hoc ergo propter hoc; tu quoque; ignoratio elenchi, and others. A look at logic and Rush Limbaugh. On fallacies and statistical evidence, Ted Tsukahara (guest speaker), Professor of Quantitative Methods.
Examination over analysis of argument. You will be asked to read and become familiar with three essay-length arguments in Current Issues and Enduring Questions. When you arrive for the exam, you will be given one of the arguments to analyze at length. In addition, I will ask you to explain several of the key concepts or terms that have been covered thus far in the course.
Please read for next class background materials for Michael Moore's Roger and Me. Go to the Michael Moore Web Page and read the director's biography. Go to the Internet Movie Database, select search, and enter Michael Moore in the exact name form. Follow the links for Roger and Me to reviews. Read the reviews by Leeper, Markson, and Quinn.
Argument and Analysis: argument and film. Discussion of film, persuasion, and argument. Guest discussants: Professors Lisa Manter, Victoria Trostle, and producer Roy Kissin. Viewing and discussion of Michael Moore's Roger and Me
Read for next class, handout: "Nonnarrative Formal Systems," Chapter 4 from Film Art: An Introduction, ed. Davis Bordwell. Please give special attention to pages 113-119, on "Principles of Rhetorical Form."
Argument and Analysis. Rhetorical relationships in film media. Viewing and discussion of Albert and David Maysles' 1969 film Salesman. The world of sales and persuasion. Guest commentator: Tom Teel, Saint Mary's College Alumnus and manager, John Wagner & Associates.
Please read for the next class meeting: Competitive Communication: pp. ix-xv; 1-8; 59-93. Give particular attention to the construction of a deductive argumentative plan in Chapter 3.
Also for the next class meeting: go to The Tech Classics Archive: A Searchable Archive of 376 Classical Greek and Roman Texts. Enter the searchable database for Aristotle, and use the search string enthymeme. Please read passages for all entries listed in Aristotle's Rhetoric, (Book II).
Argument and Composition. From analysis to construction. Introduction to syllogisms, enthymemes and enthymeme-based argument: Claims, Reasons, Assumptions. Constructing an enthymeme-based argument. The idea plan.
Please construct for the next class meeting: an enthymeme for the case discussed in class. Please go to the Tech Classics Archive, to the electronic text of Plato's Phaedrus and enter into your browser's "find" feature the following search string: rhetoric the greater. Read the exchange about how a composition might be ordered.
Argument and Composition. Review of enthymemes. Presentation of the case. Obstacles to constructing useful enthymemes. S.I. Hayakawa's ladder of abstraction. Problems in distributed middles. Circularity.
Please read for the next class meeting: Competitive Communication: pp. 95-146. Please give particular attention to therelationship between the idea plan and the proofline.
Argument and Composition. From enthymeme to proofline: introduction to Stephen Toulmin's model of practical reasoning. The pattern of construction: Claims, data, warrants, rebuttals, and qualifiers.
Please write for the next class meeting: a proofline and an argument that proceeds from that proofline. See Competitive Communication, Appendix B for examples.
Individual 15 minute meetings on final presentations. Because each of you will have a final presentation to give during the next meeting, this evening will give us a chance to meet to discuss your progress.
End of term presentations. Eight presentations will be given each evening. Your presentations can take the form of an analysis of someone else's argument or the composition of your own, which you will deliver before the class.