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Teacher Tips and Answers

Revising Argument Essays

During a verbal argument, you have to respond in the moment, so you often have regrets afterward: "I wish I had said ________. I wish I hadn't said ________. " In an argument essay, you don't need regrets because you can add whatever you left out and remove whatever you shouldn't have said. That's revising. You can also eliminate any faulty logic and make sure your voice is persuasive. The following activities will help.

Revising to Avoid Logical Fallacies

From the first Greek philosophers to today, thinkers have been on the lookout for specific flaws in reasoning—logical fallacies. These errors crop up constantly in advertising, political debates, and lunchroom discussions. You should learn to recognize the following forms of fuzzy logic in the thinking of others and eliminate them from your own thinking.

Logical Fallacies

Ad Hominem Attack

"Ad hominem" is Latin for "to the person." An ad hominem attack goes after the person making the argument instead of the argument itself. Keep personalities out of the issue and instead focus on the controversial topic.

Fallacy: It's not surprising Jake from Jake's Roadhouse opposes food trucks since Jake is a selfish crook.

Better: It's not surprising restaurant owners oppose food trucks, but they should not be allowed to prevent fair competition.

Appeal to Ignorance

An appeal to ignorance cites a lack of evidence as if it were evidence. Support your argument with actual facts, statistics, examples, and so on.

Fallacy: No one has any idea whether food trucks would cause a problem in Waterford, so we can't outlaw them.

Better: Upper Forks, a city about the size of Waterford, passed a balanced food-truck ordinance, and five years later, their brick-and-mortar restaurants are thriving due to the new foodie culture.

Bandwagon

Long ago, people promoting a specific cause would put a band on a wagon and march through town with it, handing out pamphlets urging people to join the cause. The modern bandwagon fallacy is telling people they should do or believe something because everyone else is. Remember, a mob is often wrong. Instead, use careful logic and truthful examples to show why your position is strong.

Fallacy: All of our neighbor cities allow food trucks, so we should also.

Better: We can study the food truck ordinances and operations in our neighbor cities to learn what works and what doesn't before we create our own law.

Broad Generalization

A broad generalization occurs when one limited case is taken to represent all cases everywhere. Instead, present a complete picture of the situation.

Fallacy: Every student at my lunch table would rather eat from a food truck than have another cafeteria meal, so all of Waterford is crying out for this change.

Better: A recent survey by the Waterford Examiner showed that 73 percent of citizens polled indicated a desire to have food trucks available within the city.

This lesson is a part of the Writing Argument Essays unit.

Click the title to view more information about this unit and a full list of lessons that are included.

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