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English 3
Argumentation Notes

When we study argument, what is the MOST important factor to come

out of our discussion is that when you write, you must have a clearly
defined thesis, you must anticipate opposition, make concessions,
treat the opponent with respect and use sources responsibly.

Keep in mind that our study of logic will be used to examine the
choices other writers have made when crafting their arguments. Also
know that of all the choices presented, authors may choose more than
one when crafting their own arguments.

Strategies for Argument

Strategies are about the choices writers make before drafting their
arguments. These strategies are activated after the initial prewriting
and through the drafting and revising states of writing.
The purpose of their argumentto dominate, inquire, assert, or
negotiate differencewill drive their choice of strategy.

Aristotle defined rhetoric as the faculty of observing in any given

case the available means of persuasion In other words, rhetoric is
finding an effective way to persuade people to believe or do

Basic Principles from Aristotles Rhetoric

The use of Rhetoric: To produce conviction, especially among

common men, in legislation, law, and ceremonial speeches. The three
branches of rhetoric refer to their specific forums: legislative,
forensic, and ceremonial.

The factors in persuasion

1. The personal character of the speaker (reliability,
trustworthiness, reputation, credentials, etc.)
2. Putting the audience into a certain frame of mind
3. Proof or apparent proof

The modes of effecting persuasion

1. To reason logically, or to use the logical appeal (deductive and
inductive proofs)
2. To understand human character and goodness in their various
forms, or to use the ethical appeal

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3. To understand the emotions to name them and describe them,
to know their causes and the ways in which they are excited or
to use the emotional appeal

The Organization of Arguments

Classical Form according to Aristotle

I. Exordium (Introduction) [The Latin word for beginning a web]

A. The purpose is preparation of the audience
1. Informs the audience of our end or object
2. Disposes the audience to be receptive to what we say
(renders the audience, benevolent, and docile)
B. There are 5 types of introduction that rouse interest.
3. Introduction Inquisitives
a. Shows that our subject is important, curious, or
interesting by asking provocative question and then
seeking to sustain the audiences interest by
suggesting the importance of the answer
4. Introduction Paradoxical
a. Shows that although the points we are trying to
establish seem improbable, they must after all be
5. Introduction Corrective
a. Shows that our subject has been neglected,
misunderstood, or misrepresented
6. Introduction Preparatory
a. Explains an unusual mode of developing our
subject, or
b. Forestalls some misconception of our purpose, or
c. Apologizes for any deficiencies
5. Introduction Narrative
a. Rouses interest in our subject by adopting the
anecdotal lead-in
C. Some subjects may not require us to rouse the interest of
the audience because the subject may be sufficiently
interesting in itself.
D. We may have to establish our creditability with the
audience in the introduction.
1. By demonstrating our qualification to speak (authority,
2. By counteracting prejudices either about ourselves or
our subjects
3. By rousing hostility toward our opponent (often better
saved for the conclusion)
II. Narratio (statement of the case under discussion)

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A. This is an exposition, in which the audience is told the
circumstances that need to be known about our subject.
B. It is a review of the facts of the issue, the history behind it,
or a summary of previous ideas related to the issue.
C. Sometimes a vivid description (enargeia) is useful when a
narrative treatment of the background is employed.
D. The credibility of the speaker is especially important here.
III. Divisio (outline of the points or steps to be covered in the
A. This part is often omitted.
B. It is typically used when the argument is especially long
and the audience needs a guide to alert it to the main points
as they occur.
IV. Confirmatio (proof of the argument)
A. The appeal to reason (logos): logic
1. Inductive proof: the amassing of evidence
a. The more the better, but often three good
reasons/examples will do.
b. When formulating or analyzing an inductive
argument, ask:
1) Is the evidence sufficient? (Is there enough
of it?)
2) Is the evidence representative? (Is it truly
3) Is the evidence reliable? (Is it from a
qualified authority, logic, etc.?)
2. Deductive proof: the syllogism and the enthymeme
a. The basis is premises, statements on which all
parties agree, which, when considered logically, lead
to a valid conclusion
b. Getting all parties to agree on the premises is
often the focus of the argument.
c. When formulating or analyzing a deductive
argument, ask:
1) Are the premises themselves valid or the
result of good inductive proof?
2) Does the conclusion follow logically?
B. The appeal to ethics (ethos)
1. The basis is an appeal to the audiences sense of justice
and fair play.
2. The audience must find the speaker/writer trustworthy,
admirable. Aristotle said, It is more fitting for a good man
to display himself as an honest fellow than a subtle
3. This appeal may be successful even when our argument
is weak in other ways.

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C. The appeal to emotion (pathos)
1. Knowledge of the audience is essential: what their
typical emotions are and how to arouse them.
2. We may have to sacrifice the agreement of one part of
the audience to win over the majority.
3. Misjudging the audiences can be fatal to this type of
V. Confutatio (refutation of the opposing arguments)
A. An opposing side is implicit in any attempt to persuade.
1. Doubts may remain in the minds of the audience if we
do not anticipate and refute objections to our thesis.
2.Argumentative strategy includes deciding whether to
refute before we present our own case or after.
a. If the audience is positively disposed to the
opposing argument, we should refute it first.
b. If the opposing view is weak, we should refute it
after we have made our own strong case.
B. Refutation by appeal and reason
1. We can demonstrate that the logic is fallacious.
2. We can prove that a contradictory proposition is false.
3. We can deny the truth of a premise.
4. We can object to the inferences drawn from a premise.
C. Refutation by appeal to ethics
1. Our moral standing with the audience can draw
attention from opposing views.
2. This appeal may be successful even when our argument
is weak in other ways.
D. Refutation by appeal to emotions
1. This appeal sometimes works when all others fail: if our
opponent has made a strong case logically, we can use
emotion to sway the audience.
E. Refutation by appeal to wit.
1. A joke, sarcasm, or irony should be used with the
utmost discretion.
a. We run the risk of alienating our audience.
b. A truth remains a truth even if ridiculed.
c. Humor is wholly inappropriate in some situations.
2. If we can make the audience laugh at an analogous
situation, then they may see the absurdity of the issue in
3. Sophistication of wit may work well with some
audiences (therefore, we must know our audience).
a. Self-ridicule or deprecation generally wins over
the audience.
b. Word play or irony can be admired, or conversely,

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4. Sarcasm succeeds best when directed at an individual
rather than a group.
5. Ribald or obscene language or jokes will elicit
unfavorable reactions from the audience.
6. Satire, when well done, can be persuasive.
VI. Peroratio (Conclusion) [ the Latin word for finishing off ones
A. This part will likely linger in the memory of the
B. Aristotle suggests four things we may do in the
1. Inspire the audiences with a favorable opinion of
ourselves and an unfavorable opinion of our opponents.
a. We should have already established our
credentials and ethics.
b. The conclusion is a reminder and reiteration, but
not entirely repetition.
2. Amplify the force of the points we have made in the
previous sections and extenuate the force of the points
made by the opponents.
a. Again, we should have established strong
arguments and refutations.
b. An amplification enlarges our argument; an
extenuation minimizes our opposition.
3. Rouse the appropriate emotions in the audience.
4. Restate in a summary way our facts and arguments.
a. This recapitulation is useful if our argument has
been long or complex.
b. Recapitulation allows us to leave the audience
with the meat of our argument.

Notes on Aristotle from Ann Rudkin, Career Center

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