Argument Analysis: Claim - Reason - Foundation

Argument Analysis: Claim - Reason - Foundation

ARGUMENT ANALYSIS: CLAIM REASON - FOUNDATION Argument Analysis Consider this argument: Because average temperatures across the globe have been rising steadily over the last 100 years, Americans should reduce the amount of CO2 they are putting into the atmosphere. What seems to be the main argument here? What are you being asked to do or believe?

What is the reason its being argued? What underlies the argument (issues, motives, conversations)? Argument Analysis Doing argument analysis is much like dissecting a frog or explicating a poem. You are breaking down an argument into parts and seeing how those parts interact. Just like you need some vocabulary to

describe the interior of a frog: spleen, esophagus, and kidney, you need some vocabulary to describe what youre Argument Analysis Academic Writing is broken down into three basic areas (Assertion, Context, Evidence) Argument Analysis takes one of those areasThe Assertionand breaks it down into three parts. Assertion Claim Context Reason(s)

Evidence Foundation(s) Argument Analysis We have a nifty formula for breaking down assertions into claims reasons foundations When reading an argument, apply the following: Claim Reason(s)

(X because Y) Operational Words Foundation(s) Z based on enabled by (these are really helpful when doing analysis) rooted in

Argument Analysis Even with this formula, however, argument analysis can be difficult. Sometimes, the main claim might be hard to find. Sometimes, there is more than one claim. Sometimes, there is no explicit claim; one has to be inferred. Sometimes, its hard to separate reasons and claims from one another.

Argument Analysis Sometimes, the main claim might be hard to find. It could be delayed until the end of the reading. http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/whitewater- flash-pass-12403562 It might not be stated clearly.

http://www.politico.com/blogs/media/2012/10/nate-silver-romney-clearly-couldstill-win-147618.html Argument Analysis Sometimes, there is more than one claim, and it is difficult to tell which one the author intends as the most important. http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/Opinion/2009/0910/p09s02coop.html Argument Analysis Sometimes, there is no explicit

claim; one has to be inferred. This is especially true with things like images. Argument Analysis So, what we see is that argument analysis, at its most basic levelfinding the main argumentcan be difficult and an exercise in trial and error. You may have to occasionally treat it like a scientific experiment in which you begin with a hypothesis and test the hypothesis to see if

its true. Argument analysis does, however, get easier the more you do it. Argument Analysis Claim Reason Foundation A Claim is the main argument. Its the thing the writer wants you to do or to think.

Argument Analysis The very first thing to do when beginning an analysis is to put away your biases (at least as much as you can). It doesnt really matter what you think about the issue or the argument; in fact, you may disagree entirely, or may agree entirely with the argument. You should put that aside. When all you can think about is your own perspective on an argument, you blind yourself to the actual argument before you.

Argument Analysis The second thing you need to do when beginning an analysis is to actually observe what is on the page (or on the screen). Argument Analysis Undocumented students are a population defined by limitations. Their lack of legal residency and any supporting paperwork (e.g., Social Security number, government issued identification) renders them essentially invisible to the American and state governments. They cannot legally work. In many states,

they cannot legally drive. After the age of 18, they cannot travel on airplanes without government issued identification. Arriola and Murphy, from Defined by Limitations. Journal of College Admission, 2010 What is the claim here? What are the reasons? Argument Analysis Undocumented students are a population defined by limitations. Their lack of legal residency and any supporting paperwork (e.g., Social Security number, government issued identification) renders

them essentially invisible to the American and state governments. They cannot legally work. In many states, they cannot legally drive. After the age of 18, they cannot travel on airplanes without government issued identification. Arriola and Murphy, from Defined by Limitations. Journal of College Admission, 2010 What is the claim here? Argument Analysis Undocumented students are a population defined by limitations. Their lack of legal residency and any supporting paperwork (e.g., Social Security

number, government issued identification) renders them essentially invisible to the American and state governments. They cannot legally work. In many states, they cannot legally drive. After the age of 18, they cannot travel on airplanes without government issued identification. Arriola and Murphy, from Defined by Limitations. Journal of College Admission, 2010 What are the reasons? Argument Analysis Claim

Reason Foundation A Reason is a statement presented in justification or explanation of a belief or action. Argument Analysis The best way to figure out what the reasons of an assertion is to use the word because after a claim. The band Radiohead is great.

Radiohead has consistently put out great albums (Amnesiac notwithstanding). Ok, Computer is considered one of the best three albums of the 1990s. The band has an uncompromising vision for its music. Radiohead is great because it has consistently put out great albums, and because Ok, Computer is one of the best albums of the 90s, and because it has an uncompromising vision for its music. What logically follows because allows us to find the reasons the writer is using to make his or her point. Argument Analysis The added benefit to this method of finding reasons is that it allows one to distinguish between reasons and non-reasons. As a lifelong football fan, I've been painfully aware of its medical risks since the

incriminating media reports began to appear over a decade ago. But as a Lane Technical College Prep High School graduate who once covered its games for the school newspaper, the article about Drew Williams hit even closer to home. Neither the text of this article nor the human interest follow-up on Lane's subsequent game mentioned a game score or even Williams's playing position. That was the proper perspective. Hopefully the American public can form a predominant football is bad for you perspective and phase out the game forever before too many more of our young people are hurt. With as many entertainment options as we have today, it seems we could find an alternative to fill our autumn weekends, without possibly voiding somebody's future in the process. What is the main claim in the Letter to the Editor (Chicago Tribune)? What reason or reasons does the writer give? Argument Analysis

Claim: Americans should take a football is bad for you perspective and end the game as a whole. Reasons: because Too many young people are getting hurt playing. because There are other options for entertainment. because Players are not only getting hurt but getting hurt badly enough to cause irrevocable harm. As a lifelong football fan, I've been painfully aware of its medical risks since the incriminating media reports began to appear over a decade ago. But as a Lane Technical College Prep High School graduate who once covered its games for the school newspaper, the article about Drew Williams hit even closer to home. Neither the text of this article nor the human interest follow-up on Lane's subsequent game mentioned a game score or even Williams's playing position. That was the proper perspective. Hopefully the American

public can form a predominant football is bad for you perspective and phase out the game forever before too many more of our young people are hurt. With as many entertainment options as we have today, it seems we could find an alternative to fill our autumn weekends, without possibly voiding somebody's future in the process. Argument Analysis Claim Reason Foundation A Foundation is the set of beliefs, ideas, arguments, and history that an assertion

assumes in making the argument. Argument Analysis In the analytical scheme were using, one can get to the foundation by using the operating words, based on, enabled by, or rooted in. Radiohead is a great band because it has an uncompromising vision, and this claim is based on the idea that great artists are not swayed by public opinion but by their own inner way of seeing their art. Foundations are often arguments themselves that have their own reasons and foundations as in the previous example. In fact, people might argue against the assertion at the foundational level:

That an artist must have great artistic vision (an undefined term here), is arguable. Did Frank Sinatra or Sarah Vaughn, artists who did not write but only sang, have vision or merely style and talent? Are style and talent the same as vision? What about Britney Spears or Miley Cyrus? Argument Analysis After finding the main claim, working out the foundation is the hardest part of this analytic system. Remember that there may be many foundations (some, occasionally, that conflict); however, as Steven Toulmin (on whose system this is a simplification of) noted of arguments,

many times the arguments back and forth happen on the level of the foundation, so foundations are very important to figuring out arguments. Argument Analysis Discuss the possible foundations for the following arguments: The Chicago Cubs should never win the World Series because then the team would lose its mystique of perennial underdog. Underprepared students who have to take a number of remedial courses should not be allowed to enroll in a 4-year university until they have the ability to take regular, creditbearing courses because it is unfair to students who have

adequately prepared for the university. Sesame Street has been one of the worst influences on American education because it teaches that education is entertainment. Argument Analysis Wait! Now remember that your personal opinion of the argument is not important at this point. The job is to analyze the arguments foundations objectively first. The Chicago Cubs should never win the World Series because then the team would lose its mystique of perennial underdog. Underprepared students who have to take a number of remedial

courses should not be allowed to enroll in a 4-year university until they have the ability to take regular, credit-bearing courses because it is unfair to students who have adequately prepared for the university. Sesame Street has been one of the worst influences on American education because it teaches that education is entertainment. Argument Analysis A final text to look at: Argument Analysis First, we need to see whats on the screen look at whats actually there. It appears to be someone pointing a gas pump hose at somebody elses head. In

the background is a green, yellow, and white graphicresembling a flower. Okay, thats whats therekind of Argument Analysis The silhouettes are the shape of a Vietnamese colonel executing a Vietcong prisoner. A pretty famous, graphic, image from the Viet Nam War. The flower graphic is a part of British

Petroleums logo. Of course, the colonels pistol has been replaced by a gas pump handle. Argument Analysis What does the creator of this image seem to be arguing? What do you think the claim is? Do the images add up to an argument? Because there are no stated reasons (obviously, there are no words), can you infer some possible reasons for the claim? What kinds of ideas underlie the argument in this

image?

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