Argumentation 101



When most people think ‘debate’, they think ‘arguing’.


And, well…I’m not here to tell you anything different.


But. We do get a bit more technical in debate.


In short, argumentation is ’trying to persuade someone’, and good argumentation is ’successfully persuading someone’. Better argumentation is a big part of what wins debate rounds. Good argumentation often follows a basic outline that can be used in many contexts. In debate, we call this structure a ‘contention’.


We start with a claim, which is simply any statement of causation. A leads to B. This leads to that.


Caring for a pet tarantula will develop children’s emotional control.


Our job in argumentation to prove that this, or any other claim, is correct.


Our first job, if we want to change the status quo (change the world), is to establish uniqueness.


Uniqueness shows that the status quo has some issue with it that needs to be solved. After all, if the world is perfect, why change anything?


Uniqueness: most chidden have little emotional control.


Great. We can see this argument won’t work for all kids — cause clearly, some do have emotional control — and we can’t apply this argument to adults, if we assume they’re already responsible.


The next stop is to say how the proposed plan — in this case, caring for a pet tarantula — links to the world world, or changes the status quo. We call this, well, yeah, we call in the ‘link’.


Link: pet tarantulas require emotional control to take care of — otherwise, they’ll eat you.


So, now we’ve established how the world will be different with pet tarantulas. It will either be a world of emotional control, or a world with less kids.


Impact: children who successfully care for tarantulas will develop more emotional control.


So, all together:


Claim: Caring for a pet tarantula will develop children’s emotional control.

· Uniqueness: most chidden have little emotional control.

· Link: pet tarantulas require emotional control to take care of — otherwise, they’ll eat you.

· Impact: children who successfully care for tarantulas will develop more emotional control.

Let’s take a look at a couple more examples to round off this demonstration. Before we move on, one note about links: they can actually come in two flavors, ’normal’ links and internal links. A ‘normal’ link connects the proposed action to a change in the world. An ‘internal link’ connects this change in the world to another change in the world.


Let’s look at a couple more examples of arguments, including these internal links.


Claim: If you give a mouse a cookie, you’ll lose your straw.

· Uniqueness: the mouse has no cookie, and you have one straw.

· Link: if you give a mouse a cookie, it’ll ask for some milk.

· Internal link: if you give a mouse some milk, it’ll ask for a straw.

· Impact: if you give the mouse a straw, you’ll have no straws left.


Claim: building a US Space Force could destroy GPS communications.

· Uniqueness: outer space has limited space debris.

· Link: a US Space Force will lead to an arms race.

· Internal link: arms races increase the chance of space weapons being used.

· Internal link: the use of space weapons creates space debris.

· Impact: proliferation of space debris will disable GPS satellites.

 

Now, here’s your homework:

In the comments, give me a uniqueness, link and impact for one of these claims:

1. “encouraging students to learn debate will improve English communication skills”

2. “providing more _____ to elementary students will improve their learning.”

Have fun!


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