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In presenting an argument, should a writer strive to be the final authority or a reasonable voice on an issue? Review Chapter 22 to understand the difference. Then, using your topic and one or more of your sources, define and provide an example of an arguable claim as opposed to a personal judgment. For some people, the word argument brings up images of fingerpointing, glares, outbursts, or quiet resentment. Actually, these arenâ€™t arguments at all. They are quarrels. When people quarrel, they no longer listen to each other or consider each otherâ€™s ideas. An argument is something quite different. An argument involves making reasonable claims and then backing up those claims with evidence and support. The objective of an argument is not to â€œwinâ€ and prove you have the truth. Instead, your primary goal is to persuade others that you are probably right. Arguments rarely end with one side proving the other side wrong. Instead, both sides strive to persuade others that their position is stronger or more beneficial, perhaps reaching agreement in the middle. In college and in the professional world, arguments are used to think through ideas and debate uncertainties. Arguments are about getting things done by gaining the cooperation of others. In most situations, an argument is about agreeing as much as disagreeing, about cooperating with others as much as competing with them. The ability to argue effectively will be an important part of your success in college courses and in your career. Argument can be used in any genre, but it is more prominent in some than in others. Memoirs and profiles, for example, do not typically make straightforward arguments with explicit claims, because they are primarily based on personal experience or historical facts. Other genres, such as reviews, evaluations, literary analyses, rhetorical analyses, proposals, and reports, are more obviously argumentative because their authors are deliberately trying to persuade readers to accept a particular view or idea. In this chapter, you will learn some helpful strategies for persuading people to accept your ideas. You can use these strategies to argue effectively with your friends and family. They are also useful for arguing about important issues in college and in the workplace. What Is Arguable? Letâ€™s begin by first discussing what is â€œarguable.â€ Some people will say that you can argue about anything. And in a sense, they are right. We can argue about anything, no matter how trivial or pointless. Watch the Animation on What is Arguable at mycomplab.com â€œI donâ€™t like chocolate.â€ â€œYes, you do.â€ â€œThe American Civil War began in 1861.â€ â€œNo, it didnâ€™t.â€ â€œIt really bugs me when I see a pregnant woman smoking.â€ â€œNo way. You think thatâ€™s cool.â€ These kinds of arguments are rarely worth the time and effort. Of course, we can argue that our friend is lying when she tells us she doesnâ€™t like chocolate, and we can challenge the historical fact that the Civil War really started in 1861. (Ultimately, anything is arguable.) However, debates over personal judgments, such as liking or not liking chocolate, quickly devolve into â€œYes, I do. No, you donâ€™t!â€ kinds of quarrels. Meanwhile, debates about proven facts, like the year the American Civil War started, can be resolved by consulting a trusted source. To be truly arguable, a claim should exist somewhere between personal judgments and proven facts (Figure 22.1). FIGURE 22.1 The Region of Arguable Claims People can argue about anything, of course. However, arguable claims tend to exist somewhere between personal judgments and proven facts. Arguable Claims When laying the groundwork for an argument, you need to first define an arguable claim that you will try to persuade your readers to accept as probably true. For example, here are two arguable claims on two sides of the same topic: Arguable Claim: The United States made a mistake when it invaded Iraq in 2003 because the invasion was based on faulty intelligence that suggested Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. Arguable Claim: Despite faulty intelligence, the United States was justified in invading Iraq because Saddam Hussein was a dangerous dictator who was threatening Iraqâ€™s neighboring countries, supporting worldwide terrorism, and lying in wait for an opportunity to purchase or build weapons of mass destruction that could be used against the United States and its allies. These claims are â€œarguableâ€ because neither side can prove that it is factually right or that the other side is factually wrong. Meanwhile, neither side is based exclusively on personal judgments. Instead, both sides want to persuade you, the reader, that they are probably right. When you invent and draft your argument, your goal is to support your position to the best of your ability, but you should also imagine your readersâ€™ views and viewpoints that might disagree with yours. Keeping opposing views in mind will help you to clarify your ideas, generate support, and identify any weaknesses in your argument. Then, when you draft your argument, you will be able to show readers that you have considered both sides fairly. On the other hand, if you realize that opposing views are really not credible or that they are extremely weak, then you may not have an arguable claim in the first place. Four Sources of Arguable Claims Once you have a rough idea of your arguable claim, you should refine and clarify it. Toward this end, it is helpful to figure out what kind of arguable claim you are trying to support. Arguable claims generally arise from four different sources: issues of definition, causation, evaluation, and recommendation (Figure 22.2, page 442). Watch the Animation on Types of Claims at mycomplab.com Issues of Definition. Some arguments hinge on how to define an object, event, or person. For example, here are a few arguable claims that debate how to define something: Animals, like humans, are sentient beings who have inalienable rights; therefore, killing and eating animals is an unethical act. The terrorist acts of September 11, 2001, were an unprovoked act of war, not just a criminal act. Consequently, the United States was justified in declaring war on Al-Qaeda and its ally, the Taliban government of Afghanistan.
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