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When You Are Evaluating an Argument, What Are Some of the Clues That Tell You That Significant Information Has Been Left Out?

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Just as there many types of essays you will write in college and many types of writing in general, argumentative essays come in many forms as well. There are three basic structures or types of argument you are likely to encounter in college: the Toulmin argument, the Rogerian argument, and the Classical or Aristotelian argument. Although the Toulmin method was originally developed to analyze arguments, some professors will ask you to model its components. Each of these serves a different purpose, and deciding which type to use depends upon the rhetorical situation: In other words, you have to think about what is going to work best for your audience given your topic and the situation in which you are writing.

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Logic and critical thinking together make up the systematic study of reasoning, and reasoning is what we do when we draw a conclusion on the basis of other claims. In other words, reasoning is used when you infer one claim on the basis of another. For example, if you see a great deal of snow falling from the sky outside your bedroom window one morning, you can reasonably conclude that it’s probably cold outside. Or, if you see a man smiling broadly, you can reasonably conclude that he is at least somewhat happy. In both cases, you are reasoning from evidence to a conclusion. We use reasoning all the time, but sometimes we make a mess out of it. Whether a line of reasoning is good or not is definitely more than “just a matter of opinion.” An argument consists of one or more statements, called premises, offered as reason to believe that a further statement, called the conclusion, is true. Technically speaking, premises and conclusions should be made up of statements. A statement is a sentence that declares something to be true or false. They are thus sometimes called declarative sentences. A sentence is a grammatically correct string of words, and there are many kinds of sentences other than statements.

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All in all, an argument is a series of statements with the goal of persuading someone of something. When they’re successful, arguments start with a specific point of view, something that the reader doubts; by the end of the argument, the reader has been convinced and no longer doubts this view. In order to argue well, you have to put yourself in the reader’s position and imagine what doubts they might have about your claim.

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