The argument synthesis is not as easy as the explanatory synthesis. For this synthesis you have to take the arguments of others and then form your own argument. This is one reason we talked about logical fallacies in Chapter 2. Just as a quick review, they are
Emotionally loaded terms – using terms with powerful connotations to sway the reader’s emotions
Ad hominem argument – rejecting the opposing views by attacking the person who holds them
Faulty cause and effect – assuming one event caused another without proving it
Either/or reasoning – assuming only two possibilities for a given situation exist
Hasty generalization – drawing conclusion from too little evidence or unrepresentative evidence
False analogy – assuming that two things that are similar in one way are similar in other ways
Begging the question – assuming as a proven fact the very thesis being argued
Non sequitur – concluding with a point that does not logically follow from a premise
Oversimplification – offering easy solutions for complicated problems
DeBella, Diane Z., A Sequence for Academic Writing. Instructor’s Manual, p.10
Let’s look more deeply into arguments with the goal being to strengthen the arguments we write. . At its core, an argument is simply A claim + reasons. Or, in other words, a thesis + support. It is helpful to take a look at the “rhetorical triangle” with the points labeled logos, ethos, and pathos. These are the three kinds of appeals you can make to your reader in an argument.
Logos (this is where the word logic comes from) is the logical appeal—the argument makes sense, is well organized and clear, and the reasons and support are logical. This is the message corner in the diagram below.
Ethos (this is where we get the words ethics and ethical) has to do with the credibility of the writer. Is the tone of the essay respectful? Does the writer consider opposing viewpoints? This is the Communicator corner. Pathos (we get the words empathy and sympathy from this word) is the emotional appeal. This appeals to the audience’s imaginative sympathies; in other words, getting the audience to empathize, to play on their ability to see and feel what the writer sees and feels. This is the Audience corner.
Effective arguments consider all three points on the triangle. We will talk about these in more depth in a separate lecture.
Issue questions vs. information questions
Every argument starts with an issue which can be focused by asking questions. Not all questions can lead to good arguments, though. For a question to be answered by an argument, it must be an ISSUE QUESTION.
An information question can be simply answered with information: statistics, studies, etc. But, an issue question’s answer can vary and there will be differing views. This can result in an…