Evaluating a Controversial Argument

Purpose: The objective of this assignment is to practice persuasive writing, which includes the elements of logos, pathos and ethos as well as practice writing an evaluation.

Topic: Evaluations are everyday arguments that help individuals make decisions. Should I vaccinate my child? Should I become vegan? Am I spending too much time in front of the TV? These are some issues that can generate strong evaluations. To help your audience reach a decision, it is important to establish compelling criteria that weighs the evidence before leading to a judgment. A strong evaluation includes opinion based on observation and fact, not based on personal assumptions and biases.

Writing Task: Begin with research. What are some arguments people have made that you find yourself disagreeing with? You will need to choose one and write an evaluation essay disproving that argument. This argument can be a speech (maybe from a political figure), a lecture (possibly from a professor), a podcast (like Joe Rogan), a blog (choose someone credible), a tweet (our President has tons), and the list goes on. You will need to find the original source and include it in your Works Cited page. Then, do the following: Evaluate your chosen argument with the intent to disprove it.

Tips:     

* Contextualize the argument. Background information will be needed, so make sure to provide it (i.e. who, what, when, where). Be very specific. For example, is the tweet youre analyzing in response to a bigger issue? You will need to clearly identify the issue itself.

* Brainstorm the argument by creating specific criteria. For instance, you might want to begin by asking, Does this argument violate any persons rights? Or you might want to ask, Is this argument based on biased opinion? Remember, a strong evaluation is not going to be based on your personal preferences or assumptions. For example, if youre evaluating an argument against chocolate, you shouldnt argue that the writers argument is weak because you love chocolate.

* Be persuasive by considering the logos, pathos and ethos of the argument youre evaluating. You might want to ask yourself what evidence the argument provides, how the writer of the argument tries to build credibility, and how the writer tries to appeal to the emotions of the reader. Avoid aggressive, offensive language and work on your stylistic flow.

* If youre critiquing the argument, identify fallacies in the authors line of reasoning.

* Do research. I would like you to use three credible sources: one source should be a credible media article (preferably from a newspaper or magazine), one source should be a scholarly article (published in a scholarly journal), and the third can be any credible media or multimedia source you choose yourself. You must provide a Works Cited page that includes all outside sources as well as the original argument youre analyzing.

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