arguments and argumentation
persuasion depends on being able to argue. An argument, is a collective series of statement in intended to prove a definite proposition.
A proposition (or a claim) is thus the conclusion, the bottom line of the argument. the argument is the proff or the explanation of the proposition.
The difference between a claim and an argument is that a claim has not persuasive power. One may either agree or disagree with a claim, but it will not change his opinion. An argument, on the other hand, can have a persuasive effect.an argument also helps fill time and give impression of depth.
The components of the argument
An argument has to include three, and may include four parts: the proposition, a logical explanation, factual evidence, and it may also have a leverage.
The logical explanation
This part provides the theortical reasons why the proposition is valid. I works by appealing both to logic and to emotion. Logically, an arguement is a series of sentences, structured to follow from one another that together demonstrates the proposition is true.
Emotionally, the logical explanation gives the audience the feeling that the propostion has got to be true, and that the speaker has thought out his views before arrivng at the conclusion.
In order to be effective both logically and emotionally, the explanation has to show logical links, using phrases such ‘therefore’ , ‘as a result’, ‘because of that’ and others.
The factual evidence
Facts are used to corroborate the explanation, to demonstrate that it is true in ‘the real world’, and to make it more understandable and accessible to a wider audience.
Factual evidence can be interwoven into the logical explanation and vice versa. It is important not to leave bare facts, but to explain them, their importance, and their emotional impact.
There are many different types of facts that can be used as evidence, but they are normally divided into qualitative and quantitative facts. For maximum impact both types of evidence should be used because each has its own strenghts and weakneses and using htem together maximizes their benefits while canceling out their drawbacks.
Quantitative evidence encompases all the types of information that can be conveyed in numbers, such as statistics, sums, numbers etc..
These types of evidence have several advantages: The are useful when wnating to convey short and concise data, because the numbers don’t require much time. Also, they make the speaker seem more knowledgable and authoritative because they are seemingly more accurate. They are also harder for some people to refute, because many people don’t feel comfortable arguing with numbers.
Quantitative evidence also have several drawbacks. First, they are difficult for many people to understand and internalize. Second, their neutrality makes them less emotional, and thus not very movind or persuasive. Lastly, they require expertise and preparation as most people do not have accurate statitics available off the top of their head.
Qualitative evidnce sound like stories, and are not numerical in nature, such as examples, analogies, case-sutdies etc.
There are several advantages for qualitative evidence too – They can add an element of depth to the quantitative evidence by showing the underlying processes leading to a statistic. Second, they can be very emotional and thus penetratate the defenses of people not willing to listen. They are easier to understand and to relate to, as most people are well conditioned to understand and remember stories. Lastly, for the same reason that makes them easier on the listener, it is easier for the speaker to come up with qualitative evidence.
On the other hand, qualitative evidence can feel insufficiently rigirous. it has an anecodtal nature that makes it look not representative. Also, it takes much longer to tell a story than to shoot a couple of statistics.
Some times a speaker can enhance his evidence by relying on non-fact evidence, such quotes from famous people, hypothetical facts.
The value of quotes vary widely depending on who is the speaker and who is the audience. religious audience will usually view statements made by religious leaders as having a great deal of authority. Secular audience will usually be less swayed by even the most notable and noble authorities. Thus, quotes can be used to enhance and enumerate an argument, but they are not to be used instead of qualitative or quantitative facts.
Hypothetical evidence is something quite different. It is a thought experiment in which the speaker presents non-existant facts under the banner ‘what if’. this allows him to potulate about how certain developement would have occured. Hypothetical evidence is most useful in cases where actual information is missing or not trustworthy – for example a discussion of future development in politics, a discussion of crime trends etc. Albert Einstein populrized the use of thought experiments as a way of explaining to the public advanced concept that could not be experimentally created with our technology.