InterChange on
Argumentation (2/16)

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Wayne Butler:
I'd like us to spend about 20 minutes in this conference trying to 
hash out a definition of "argumentation."  Your contributions should 
begin with what you believe might be a decent defintion of 
argumentative writing.  In addition, include your ideas on how an 
argument might be developed. You might consider the following:
How does one set up an argument?
What are the possible audiences for an argumentative essay?
What kind of proofs and evidence might be used?

Kelly Kloustin:
uh hello any out there?

Stephen Chim:
Yes, Kelly. Stephen's here.

Kelly Kloustin:
As far as what kind of prrofs and evidence,an argument is much 
stronger if you have concrete facts and not just your opinion. 

Nicole Cooklin:
I agree, you must have many facts, because if you just state what 
you think, then your argument is not very strong!

Jaime Ross:
For an angruementative paper the topic should be controversial.  
Both sides should be shown to show the reader that you are willing 
listen and that you are not dead set on one side....but the claims you 
have should be strongly supported and evaluated by reliable 
evidence.  The side that you favor should be more heavily weighed 
that the other

Wayne Butler:
What are the differences between facts and opinions?

Wayne Butler:
What are "facts?"

Kelly Kloustin:
I have always been taught,(whether or not it's right) that in order to 
have an effective argument that you must explain your weak 
argument first and your strongest last. Also that you need to 
acknowledge opposing views.

Todd Dubinsky:
The topic should be controversial, but also debatable.  For instance, 
two people could go on for hours about a moral debate without ever 
stating facts.

Wayne Butler:
Jaime says "both sides should be shown..."  Good point, but are there 
only two sides to arguments?

Stephen Chim:
I agree with Jaime. An argumentative paper should have a topic that 
is controversial. Otherwise, why bother to "argue" about it? We 
should also include a two-sided argument so as to show the reader 
that the complexity of that controversial is considered. 

Justin Coopersmith:
One sets up an argument by a clear, succint thesis that states the 
writer's opinion.  Next, he/she tries to back up their thesis by 
providing examples and supporting ideas to the essay.

Todd Dubinsky:
You shouldn't just acknowledge the opposing views, but you should 
make the opposing views look less attractive then your views.

Irfan M. Murtuza:
For an argumentative essay it is important to mention both sides of 
the issue so the reader does not think you are avoiding confrentation 
with an opposing view point.  You can just mention it and then bring 
up examples which contradict it, making your essay stronger.  

Jaime Ross:
No there may be multiple sides to the arguement, but a conversation 
flow should be present in the paper between opposing sides

Wayne Butler:
Todd writes that a topic should be controversial and debatable.  Fair 
enough, but what's the difference?  Can we dream up any current 
moral debates as examples of what Todd means?

Stephen Chim:
The difference between facts and opinion: Facts do not cease to exist 
when they are ignored! Nobody can deny a fact. However, different 
people may hold equally valid opinion as they consider the same 
issue from different perspectives.

Nicole Cooklin:
There are more than just two-sided arguments, but when you get 
into some that have various sides, your argument may get very hard 
to follow.  Therefore you should try to pick out the major sides to an 
argument and focus on them.

Kevin Tiernan:
I agree with Todd you have to pick a debatable issuse and I also 
think that above just stating arguments and refuting the other side 
you also need to refute some of your own arguments and then show 
how you can solve that problem.  Ex. you state argument, state why 
people say that argument is wrong, then you show how this second 
argument is false and that the original argument is correct.

Jaime Ross:
Any current moral debates (like whats in the news?)

Kelly Kloustin:
Facts have empirical evidence to back them up,or experimental or 
scientifically collected data, while opinions have just have your brain 
to back them up. Facts,especially scientific ones always sound more 
convinvcing for some reason ( such as 3 out of 4 puppies prefer 
puppy chow over  brand X)

Kevin Tiernan:
Facts and figures is always a stronger argument than opinion

Todd Dubinsky:
An example of a topic that is controversial, but not debatable is 
whether or not abortion should be legal.  One of the reasons that it is 
not debatable is that religion is a major part of it.   Someone's 
religious beliefs are someone's religious beliefs, period.  There is not 
debate because it is a moral issue.  There is no fact that if you are 
part of this religion, you are better than if you are a part of another.

Nicole Cooklin:
Abortion is definately a moral issue that people can debate for hours 
and get no where, because people may have completely different 
moral and religious backgrounds.

Irfan M. Murtuza:
What about when you give the opinion of an "expert," how does that 
fit into the difference between fact and opinion?

Paul Fau:
I agree with Kevin on the note that fact is more rooted than opinion 
in an essay because it makes one's agument more concrete.

Jaime Ross:
For the paper to be more credible, you should also work your sources 
into the paper (not just list them at the end of the paper)

Justin Coopersmith:
Yeah, but you can make a scientific study say anything you want it 
to.  Example, the government of the U.S.  Their studies of marijuana 
have been wrong for years but they still keep the same studies, even 
though other studies have been highly contradicting to the 

Stephen Chim:
Besides facts, quoting some relevant opinions or findings from 
authoritative individuals also helps us to persuade other better than 
using only our own opinion. 

Kevin Tiernan:
Irfan I think when dealing with expert opions the people still 
understand that it is an opion and while it is a stronger argument 
facts tell the better story.Usually.

Paul Fau:
Steve that is true, that argument though would only be inductive 

Todd Dubinsky:
Yes, but how do know if the dogs really like Puppy Chow.....and how 
many dogs did they include in their study.  These are factors that I 
like to see complimenting a survey.  For instance, two out of three 
dentists prefer baking soda toothpaste.  They survey could have 
asked three doctors and only two agreed.  This is not a powerful 
statistic.....but without the survey information, it will fool many.

Wayne Butler:
Kelly speaks of emipirical and scientific facts.  Where does one find 
such "facts" and how does one know when the research/statistics and 
so forth are "true."  We've all seen examples where statistics are used 
improperly.  Just because you read something someplace, does that 
make it acceptable knowledge to use in an argument.

Mike Edwards:
Facts are good but it seem that in every argument that one might 
encounter there is a lot of information on both sides.  You must make 
sure that your sources are creditable.

Vanessa Liou:
To even hold a valid opinion, one has to have facts that convince 
them of it.

Kevin Tiernan:
Good question TEACH!

Justin Coopersmith:
How do you know if the sources over the Internet are reliable for 
this paper?

Kevin Tiernan:

Kevin Tiernan:

Nicole Cooklin:
Kevin, ha ha ha ha !!! :-)

Mike Edwards:
do they have a degree?  Any type of educational background is good

Wayne Butler:
Kevin, ok, fair enough... facts and figures are stronger than opinion.  
But aren't some opinions based on fact?  I mean, Rheingold and Reid, 
for example, have lots of opinions on things.  Does that mean those 
are less worthy than some research study?

Jaime Ross:
Justin-  I think it is the same as how do you know that newspapers 
and magazines are reliable.  I think it is the same thing.

Kevin Tiernan:
Justin I think you have to either assume your source is reliable or 
ask someone who you know has heard of the source.

Paul Fau:
There are also other things besides facts that make a good argument, 
like structure.  There are many different ways to imply the same 
thing but those things may not be valid.

Wayne Butler:
Ok, good.  Vanessa brings up the term "valid" opinion.  What does 
"valid" mean?

Irfan M. Murtuza:
Rheinfold and and Reid have experience though, and that should 
count just as much as a research study.

Wayne Butler:
Good response, Kevin!

Stephen Chim:
Irfan, we are not saying that we should only inculde facts in our 
arguements. Opinion sounds just as great as facts, provided they are 
well supported by facts and logic. If the opinion is given by an 
"expert", then it will sound even more persuasive to your readers.

Kelly Kloustin:
I  realize that people can slant statistical facts  to their advantage, 
and ignore sources that will contradict the message they are trying to 
send. Maybe the puppychow thing was a bad example because the 
advertisers want your money . But what's the difference between 
that and an argumentative essay? In both cases you want people to 
"buy it".

Nicole Cooklin:
I think that you have to decide for yourself if YOU think that your 
source is reliable, someone out there will probably have a 
disagreement, but that is life!

Wayne Butler:
Paul, I think you're on to something about structure in an argument, 
but I'm not quite sure what you mean.  Could you explain yourself 
more of give some concrete examples?

Mike Edwards:
I agree with Paul the structure of your paper is very important.  One 
shouldn't jump from side to side in a confusing manor.

Irfan M. Murtuza:
stephen, one man's logic is another man's tolilet paper.

Kevin Tiernan:
Wayne I think that though opions don't neccesarily mean less but I 
think that if you base an argument off other peoples opions you will 
have a hard time convincing people that it is true.  While if you use a 
good mix of fact and opion then you run a better chance of haveing a 
strong argument.

Wayne Butler:
Ah ha.  Mike asks of sources, "do they have a degree?"  Why is that 
an issue, Mike?

Mike Edwards:
good one Irfan!!

Kelly Kloustin:
irfan: i like that quote!

Justin Coopersmith:
Rheingold and Reid have experience, I played football in high school 
does that mean I have enough experience to play in the NFL.  How 
does one judge experience?  Both of these authors were stating their 
opinions with facts, but I don't think their experience should count as 
much as a research study

Todd Dubinsky:
There are just some sources that are more publicly acceptable than 
others.  For instance, if you quote the World Book Encyclopedia or 
The National Enquirer......someone is a lot less likely to be influenced 
by the statistics or information than if you quote The New York 
Times or a Science Journal.

Kevin Tiernan:
GO play Justin I heard the Jaguars still need a few good men.

Paul Fau:
Valid means that your opinion is derived in such a way that there 
can be no dispute the premises you present because they are all true.  
Based on your premises your conclusion will most definitely, 
deductively or strongly inductivly follow.

Wayne Butler:
What happens if you think your source is reliable, though, but your 
reader doesn't.  What criteria do you use for a reliable source?

Vanessa Liou:
Opinions can be thrown around, but it becomes pointless unless there 
are solid references and ground on which you can base your 

Nicole Cooklin:
Is there anyone out there that has enough experiance to be 
acceptable to everyone?  Who else are we going to look at for 
information than Rheingold and Goldsborough?  

Jaime Ross:
Yes but their level of experience has been much greater because they 
have been important factors in cyberspace

Kelly Kloustin:
what ARE solid references anyway?

Stephen Chim:
Paul & Kevin: Facts can only be used to persuade if they are used to 
back up an opinion. Yes, you are right. Facts are concrete and cannot 
be denied by anybody. But without your own opinion and logic, you 
cannot be persuasive. 

Kevin Tiernan:
Though reliablity of your source is a part of the specific argument if 
your argument doesn't make sense then thats not good.  Also I think 
it is what is said inside the argument which hopefully means more 
than who said it.

Mike Edwards:
well I anyone can write a paper on anything but do they know what 
their talking about is another.  If someone is telling me how to run 
my business and then a MBA comes and tells me the opposite then I 
might question the first persons smarts. 

Kevin Tiernan:
Stephen, 1+1=2 I don't think I need to have an argument first to say 
they think 1+1=2

Wayne Butler:
Kelly brings up an intersting point about advertising as a form of 
argument.  I'd like to make it clear that in academic writing there is 
a difference between argumentation and persuasion.  In persuasion 
one might use any means necessary to "sell" an idea by appealing to 
emotions, psychology, and real evidence, if they've got it.  In 
argumentative writing one should rely on logical evidence (as many 
of you have noted already) with the idea of seeking "truth" through 
"rationale discourse."  You'll remember the latter term from 

Paul Fau:
For an example of stucture in an argument take the following: All 
dogs are animals.  All fishes are animals.  Therefore all dogs are fish.  
This simple argument has facts but the argument commits a fallacy.  
We no that there are no dogs that are fish.

Justin Coopersmith:
No, Kevin you don't need an argument for that but remeber 
sometime ago you did need an argument to prove it because you had 
know idea what it meant.

Jaime Ross:
Good point Paul...fallacys are very important in arguementative 

Wayne Butler:
Irfan, your analysis of logic and toilet paper is, well, let's just say 
different.  But, do you mean to imply that all critical thinking is 
arbitrary and subjective?  Can't we come up with some set of shared 
beliefs about what is logic and accepted proof and what is not?

Wayne Butler:
 I think you make a strong point about facts, but don't you also agree 
with Stephen that you need opinions to help?

Todd Dubinsky:
I like Paul's point.

Kelly Kloustin:
paul; that is because you are making a correlation with your fishdog 
example, but remember that correlation does not imply causation

Wayne Butler:
Todd, why does the Time or Science Journal have more "weight" than 
the World Book or Enquirer?

Nicole Cooklin:
Less law suits?!?!?!

Jaime Ross:
Enquirer does nota have a credible reputation.

Wayne Butler:
Ok, so we're talking about proof, evidence, structures, premises, 
validity, reliability, and so forth.  Each of you please take a minute 
now to try to use what we've discussed thus far to offer a definition 
and list of features of argumentation.

Irfan M. Murtuza:
Right on Wayne.  There is probably not a single topic in the world 
where everyone agrees but I guess at somepoint there has to be 
shared beliefs by the majority of the people which we can agree as 

Kelly Kloustin:
Enquirers are entertainment, that is why they are not credible for 
their facts.

Todd Dubinsky:
Science Journal, for instance, always has many facts to back up any 
statements made.  Also, the articles in it don't report on people's 
findings, but rather the people who actually conduct the experiments 
write the articles.  Therefore, information is not going through 
anyone and getting tainted.   The article is in first person, and is a 
first-hand acount of what happened.

Paul Fau:
Kelly, in that simple argument there was no cause or effect.  There 
was just a conclusion made with premises that were true but didn't 
substantiate the following conclusion.  I'm not sure if that makes it 
clear what I wqs trying to say

Wayne Butler:
Wayne, it seems that from all your postings on this interchange that 
you think that in an argument you must first state a fact or opions, 
then follow it up witha question.  Would you agree with this 

Wayne Butler:
I'm impressed with your command of formal logic.  Could you offer 
us a little more detail on what you're doing.  I believe you are 
creating what's called a syllogism in which you start with a major 
premise, then follow it with a minor premise, which then leads to a 
conclusion.  Right?

Kevin Tiernan:
Who is asking Wayne questions as Wayne????

Mike Edwards:
good one.

Todd Dubinsky:
Now there's something we can debate....

Stephen Chim:
Irfan, your assertion should be modified a bit. One man's opinion is 
another man's toilet paper. Logic and opinion are different things. 
Anyway, your quote remind us of the difficulty of arguing with 
somebody who hold a very different opinion. Well, I think an 
argumentative essay is successful when all readers, including those 
holding an entirely different viewpoint, will be persuaded of your 

Nicole Cooklin:
For a good argument, one must include a good thesis, and back it up 
with strong and relialble facts and opinions.

Paul Fau:
An argument does not have to starrt off with facts.  The conclusion 
can be stated first hand and with facts be able to deduce that 

Justin Coopersmith:
Nicole, summed it up for me with her definition of a good argument

Irfan M. Murtuza:
From what I gathered, an argument must be something where there 
are more than one major opposing view points.  Next the author must 
used facts from a credible source (in most people's opinions), while at 
the same time using your opinion to lead the reader into believing 
your side of the issue.

Jaime Ross:
What does persuation mean though?  That they will change their 
veiw points or look at the issue in a different light now?

Mike Edwards:
I think logic is a very important aspect of one's arguement.  If you 
read carfully you can pick up a lot of little thing that go wrong in a 
persons paper.

Kevin Tiernan:
I agree with Nicole, I think that a good thesis is need and that if you 
are going to argue a oint it should be in the thesis, when you flame 
into a topic which you don't say you are going to talk about I think it 
hurts sometimes.

Wayne Butler:
Dear Wayne,
No, I'd disagree with the way you've characterized my postings.  But, 
the process of evaluating a premise, an example, a proof and other 
forms of evidence would require that we ask probing questions of it.

Kathleen Soo Hoo:
A good argumentative paper would include a thesis as well as valid 
and reliable facts to support the thesis.

Kelly Kloustin:
An argument is a chosen aspect of a controversial topic that utilizes 
facts and opinions to interpret those statistics to logically and 
persuasively convince the reader.

Todd Dubinsky:
An arugment is something that has at least two opposing sides

Mike Edwards:
I think the best way to argue is to engauge the reader and make 
him/her think and ask them questions.

Jaime Ross:
credible sources, conversation flow and structure and a solid reason 
for having written the paper.  Also has to be something debatable

Kelly Kloustin:
hey i'm tired of seeing women in various stages of undress over on 
Kevin's computer.!!

Todd Dubinsky:
An arugment is something that has at least two opposing sides.  An 
effective persuasive essay is one that backs up the reader's beliefs or 
convinces him/her to believe a different way.  

Amanda Read:
I think that the most important behind a successful argument is a 
convincing writer who has strong opinions about what he/she is 
writing. This seems to be the most important thing because if one 
were to simply throw facts around there would be son much debate 
as to the validity and credibility of the facts. 

Mike Edwards:
An arguement is a discussion that involves more than one side and 
there is disagreement between the sides.  but the conclusion is won 
by with a lot of thought, fact and opinion.

Paul Fau:
An argument basicallly is a group of statements.  Which way you 
plan to go with this argument is up to you.  Premises as facts or as 
sources of expertise can really influence an arument.  If yopu use 
these premises to draw weak conclusions, then your argument will 
be easily refuted and will serve the least purpose.  I feel that 
arguments have to logically follow with what is presented in 
structure (validity) and in pure factual representation.

Stephen Chim:
My conclusion thus far:
1. Argumentation should aruge about an issue that is not just 
controversial but also debatable.
2. Your argument will sound more persuasive if you support opinion 
by facts.
3. If one can find out some expert testimony to support his 
argument, then it will be perfect.
4. An argument will be successful if you can persuade readers 
holding different opinions to believe your argument is true.

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Contact wbutler@umich
with comments or questions.

Modified: 3/4/95