An Introduction to Persuasion and Argument
- Moving people to a belief, position, or course of action
- Adapted from Mike McGuire’s Com 101 class notes, MV Community College
Persuasion vs. Argument
- Persuasion and argument are often used interchangeably
- Persuasion is a broad term, which includes many tactics designed to move people to a position, a belief, or a course of action
- Argument is a specific kind of persuasion based on the principles of logic and reasoning
The Importance of Argument and Persuasion
- In everyday life…
- Appealing a grade, asking for a raise, applying for a job, negotiating the price of a new car, arguing in traffic court
- In academic life…
- Defending your ideas, engaging intellectual debate
- On the job…
- Getting people to listen to your ideas, winning buy-in, getting your boss to notice, getting cooperation, moving people to action
- In writing…
- Irrefutably making your point, writing to be read
- In reading and listening…
- Critically evaluating other’s arguments, protecting yourself from unethical persuasive tactics, recognizing faulty reasoning when you see it.
What exactly is an Argument?
- An argument involves the process of establishing a claim and then proving it with the use of logical reasoning, examples, and research.
- An issue open to debate
- Your position on the issue
- Your reasons for that position
- Evidence to support your reason
- Experience, expert opinion, research and statistics
The Role of Your Audience
- Understanding your audience is key to effective writing of all kinds, especially persuasive writing
- An argument is an implicit dialogue or exchange with your audience, so in writing arguments, assume there is a reader that will not agree with you
- Audience awareness is absolutely essential to successful persuasion and argument; therefore…
- Know your audience
- What is their position on the issue?
- How strongly do they feel about it?
- Are they open-minded enough to consider other views?
- What will their objections be to your argument?
Structure of a Classical Argument
- Thesis Statement
- Background Information
- Reasons and Evidence
- The Opposing View and the Refutation
- …is the most important sentence in your paper
- …is an assertion
- …answers the question: “What am I trying to prove?”
- ...brings focus to the entire essay
- …lets the reader know the main idea of the paper
- …is not a factual statement or an announcement of purpose, but a claim that has to be proven throughout the paper.
Example: Which thesis statement
- Parents, often too busy to watch television shows with their families, can monitor their children’s viewing habits with the aid of the V-chip.
- To help parents monitor their children’s viewing habits, the V-chip should be a required feature for television sets sold in the U.S.
- This paper will describe a V-chip and examine the uses of the V-chip in American-made television sets.
Using a Reasonable Tone
- Shows you are fair-minded and therefore adds to your credibility
- When you acknowledge the opposition with balanced language, it shows that your respect the opposing views
- No matter how passionate you are about the issue, don’t resort to careless, harsh words; this would show more about your than the issue
Offering a Counterargument
- Addressing the opposition demonstrates your credibility as a writer
- It shows that you have researched multiple sides of the argument and have come to an informed decision
- Remember, keep a balanced tone when attempting to debunk the opposition
- Conceding to some of your opposition’s concerns can demonstrate respect for their opinions
- Remain tactful yet firm
- using rude or deprecating language can cause your audience to reject your position without carefully considering your claims
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