In order to create a strong argument, it is necessary to evaluate the effectiveness of other arguments

In order to create a strong argument, it is necessary to evaluate the effectiveness of other arguments. In doing this, we are not only thinking about what we found persuasive, but we are examining what makes the argument “work”: its structure, its flow, its tone, and the speaker/writer’s effectiveness in presenting their argument. For your second paper, you will be practicing these skills.

Your task is to select one of the materials that we have read or watched for class and write a paper evaluating the argument. This is your standard paper format, so you should structure it as you would a typical essay.

Compare this to a restaurant review: when you go to a restaurant, you make a judgement as to whether you had a nice experience. When a friend asks you for your opinion, you focus on various aspects of the restaurant: you might compliment the delicious food and fast service, and you may note that it was crowded and parking was difficult. This is balanced view of the restaurant, pointing out its pros and cons. You are doing the same thing with this assignment, but instead of a restaurant, you are “reviewing” an argument.

Some things to keep in mind:

Your priority at the start of paragraphs is to state YOUR opinion (and then prove that with evidence)
You prove your opinion by providing evidence from the article/talk that shows WHY you feel a certain way
You cannot evaluate EVERYTHING in the article/talk
Focus on just a few things to discuss in your paper
Resist the temptation to call something “good” or “bad” because these are very subjective terms (one person’s “good” is another person’s “bad”).
Focus on the specifics of what you feel is persuasive/not persuasive
For example, you might find that <link is hidden> Rowling’s overall argument about the benefits of failure has its merits, but you found her portion related to working at Amnesty International to sway too far from her original focus on herself. This made it harder to connect to this part of her talk than it was when she was discussing her experiences living in poverty. Or you might find Elizabeth Gilbert credible, but you thought her argument was too focused on her own experiences and that incorporating other great failure/success experiences might have made her argument a bit better researched. You might even comment on the speaking style: in analyzing <link is hidden> Rowling’s talk, you could discuss how she stayed behind a podium while speaking, whereas Shawn Achor moved around the stage, making eye contact with audience members, which made him connect more with his audience.

Remember that you need proof when evaluating an argument. It is not enough to say that Shawn Achor is a great speaker; tell us HOW he is such a great speaker. What specific actions, words, and behaviors does he do/say to connect with audiences? After every judgment you make, remember to include SPECIFICS from the argument itself. This is YOUR support!!

THESIS STATEMENT:

You should have a thesis statement that sets up an overall argument about the TED Talk/article you are evaluating. You might find this easier to write AFTER you have written your paper; you already know your goal is to evaluate the argument, but you might find that your overall feelings emerge as you look at and write about the individual parts. Your thesis should aim to give an overall feel for the strengths and weaknesses of the argument you are evaluating.

A sample thesis: “Meg Jay succeeds in arguing the reasons why twentysomethings should act with more purpose in their lives with her TED Talk, ‘Why 30 isn’t the New 20’, but her message can get lost on the very audience she is trying to persuade by coming across as demeaning to this age group”.

USING OUTSIDE SOURCES:

You must use at least THREE sources throughout your paper. The argument you are using counts as one as long as you are actively citing it. Consider using outside sources to bring in additional information and/or perspectives that the speaker/writer did not mention. For example, if you are evaluating Achor’s TED talk, you could bring in an outside article that argues about the effectiveness of using humor to persuade your audience. You could even compare Achor to Meg Jay or Cameron Russell, both of whom use humor sparingly, and, perhaps, not as effectively.

USING “I” AND PERSONAL EXPERIENCE:

You may use “I” in your paper, and you may include personal experience (especially if you are showing how certain areas of the argument either resonated with you or pushed you away), but do not rely solely on your own experience and keep in mind other viewpoints as well. For example, if you had a similar experience as Shawn Achor did with one of your siblings, that story might have been especially effective to you and it could have made him instantly likeable to you. However, after you discuss your own opinion, consider other audiences as well: would this story still be effective for those that don’t have siblings?

find the cost of your paper

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