Responding to Objections and Alternative Views

Mr. Baskin
3 Types of Arguments
 A one-sided argument presents only the writer’s position
on the issue without summarizing and responding to
alternative viewpoints.
 A multisided argument presents the writer’s position,
but also summarizes and responds to possible objections
and alternative views.
 A dialogic argument has a much stronger component of
inquiry, in which the writer presents himself as uncertain
or searching, the audience is considered a partner in the
dialogue, and the writer s purpose is to seek common
ground perhaps leading to a consensual solution to a
 One-sided and Multisided arguments often take an
adversarial approach.
 Typically see alternate views as flawed or wrong,
support own claim the most.
 However, can be made to feel dialogic, depending
on the way the writer’s handles alternative views.
Treatment of Alternate
 At issue is how a writer handles the opposition.
 How you deal with these viewpoints can wildly
affect how your argument functions.
 Will you…
 Omit them (one sided)
 Summarize them to acknowledge their validity,
value, or force (sort of dialogic multisided)
 Often determined by purpose, audience resistance,
and confidence in your own stance or view.
When to use what?
 One sided—most useful when an issue is NOT
highly contested.
 IF it is highly contested, only useful to strengthen the
views of people who agree with you.
 Will ALIENATE people who don’t share your views.
When to use what?
 A multisided argument reduces hostility, by
demonstrating concern for multiple viewpoints
 On a neutral or undecided reader, something interesting
can happen:
 For the short term, one sided arguments can persuade.
 But, in the long term, multisided arguments have staying
 If only presented with a single side to an issue, they may
change their minds when presented with other views. By
dealing with other views, you diminish their power to
affect your reader later.
What to Use When?
 IF dealing with a neutral to resistant audience,
adversarial approaches produce diminished returns.
Even multisided can be rendered ineffective.
 Tend to focus on differences, increase hostility,
despite addressing counterpoints.
 A more dialogic approach tends to work best with
neutral-highly resistant audiences.
Determining Audience
 Creating a “Support scale”
 But, only rarely will it be so simple. May have
categories of resistance.
 But what if your position lies between TWO resistant
groups? Be aware—trying to please both may not be
feasible. Consider for yourself!
One-Sided Arguments
 Typically used when audience is known to be
 Will ignore opposing views or reduce them to “the
enemy” in a false US vs. THEM situation.
 Heavily utilize Pathos, and often fear, to convince
readers of dire outcomes or wonderful benefits
 Goal is often to simply solidify and reinforce existing
views. No need to convince or fairly persuade.
The Classical Argument
 Ideal for a neutral/undecided audience
 Basically jurors weighing the merits of a case
 A classical argument is defined by the writer’s
willingness to summarize opposing views and
openly respond.
 Can refute the views or concede to some of their
Summarize Opposition
 The first step is to actually summarize them fairly for
your audience.
 See handout!
Refuting Opposition
 Once summarized, you can either refute them or
concede to their strengths.
 You are attempting to convince your audience of one
of the following:
 1. it is logically flawed
 2. it is inadequately supported
 3. it is based on erroneous assumptions
 Remembering Toulmin’s schema, you should know
that you can either attack the reason and grounds, the
warrant and backing, or both.
 Example:
 We shouldn’t elect Joe as committee chair because he
is too bossy.
 Two points of potential attack:
 The reason and grounds itself, or the warrant.
 To wit—
Refuting the reason
 I disagree that Joe is bossy. In fact, Joe is very unbossy. He
s a good listener who s willing to compromise, and he
involves others in decisions. The example you cite for his
being bossy wasn’t typical. It was a one-time
circumstance that doesn’t reflect his normal behavior.
[The writer could then provide examples of Joe’s
cooperative nature.]
 In this example, we are refuting the statement that Joe is a
bossy person, directly attacking the stated reason and
presenting a well-supported counter-claim.
Refuting the warrant
 I agree that Joe is bossy, but in this circumstance
bossiness is just the trait we need. This committee
hasn’t gotten anything done for six months and time
is running out. We need a decisive person who can
come in, get the committee organized, assign tasks,
and get the job done.
 Here, you are attacking the warrant (that bossy
people make bad committee chairs).
Rebuttal Strategies
 See handout!
Conceding Opposition
 Sometimes, the opposition won’t be easy to refute or
dismiss, and you will have to concede to their claims
 For example, if looking to legalize hard drugs, you
will likely have to concede that the availability of the
drugs will increase addiction.
 So, then, your purpose becomes not to refute that
claim, but show how the benefits will outweigh that
negative consequence.
 So, instead of refuting the reasons, warrant, etc., you
shift to a NEW field of values.
 Your goal is to create a new warrant that your
audience can share—that (perhaps) shutting down
the black market and ending the violence, crime, and
prison costs associated with it is more beneficial to
society than the cost of increased addiction.
 Even though this may feel like weakness, you are
actually increasing audience goodwill by being
credible, reasonable, and ethical.
 The following essay is an example of the refutation
strategies we’ve discussed found in a classical
 She is arguing for continued taxpayer support for an
alternative public school called “First Place,”
designed to support homeless children and their
 Knowing many people object to taxpayer funding for
such programs, she offers these refutations.
The Resistant Audience
 Appealing to a resistant audience is always difficult,
and, as discussed, a classical argument works best
for a neutral or undecided audience.
 Because resistant audiences are likely to differ from
the writer on key issues and values, the direct attack
approach of the classical argument may encroach
TOO much on their worldview.
 So what’s the alternative?
Dialogic Argument
 The point is, argument in this scenario may be
impossible—but conversation might be on the table.
 For example—a pro-life and pro-choice advocate
may never agree on abortion, but they likely both
agree about reducing teenage pregnancy rates.
Finding that kind of common ground might be
enough to open a dialogue.
Goal of Dialogue
 The end goal of this approach is rarely to convert a
person to your beliefs.
 Instead, it is to lower (somewhat) the level of
resistance, perhaps by in preparation for future
 If a dialogue can be opened (and parties can respect
each other and engage in meaningful conversation),
then that may lead to an opportunity to reach
 Such are the goals of Dialogic Arguments.
 One approach to reaching a resistant audience is to use
the “Delayed-Thesis” approach.
 Classical argument demands that you open with your
thesis or claim.
 This isn’t always the best approach.
 By doing so, you immediately distance yourself from
opposing views and set up the adversarial nature of
classical argument.
 May be more effective to keep the issue open, delaying
the revelation of your stance until the end of the essay.
 This piece, by Ellen Goodman, was written in
response to a brutal rape on the pool table of a local
bar and ran in 1985 during a feminist outcry about
the effects of pornography. Her kairotic moment was
the nation’s shock over the brutality of the rape
(which later became the subject of the film The
Accused, starring Jodie Foster).
Rogerian Argument
 An even more powerful approach is known as Rogerian
Argument, named after psychologist Carl Rogers, who
used it in therapy to help people resolve their differences.
 Emphasizes “empathic listening”– which he defined as
the ability to see an issue sympathetically from another’s
 Trained people to withhold judgment of ideas until after
listening attentively, understanding their reasoning,
appreciated their values, and respected their humanity.
 In short, they had to “walk in their shoes.”
Rogerian Argument
 Felt that traditional methods of argument were too
 Stresses the psychological AND logical dimensions
of argument.
 Stresses building bridges instead of winning.
 Effective when dealing with emotionally laden
Rogerian Strategy
 First goal—reduce threat by showing that both
writer and resistant audience share common
 There’s no attack—it’s all about common ground.
 Not looking to fully persuade per se—mostly just
about shifting towards the writer’s views.
 All about accepting compromise.
 Synthesizing opposing views in an ideal world—sees
how they are connected.
Rogerian Approach
 The key—besides listening and understanding
well—is finding those areas of agreement.
 This view eliminates power and forcefulness--it is
about agreement and conciliation.
 stresses self-examination, clarification, and
accommodation rather than refutation. Rogerian
argument is more in tune with win-win negotiation
than with win-lose debate.
Related flashcards


36 cards


31 cards

Healthcare occupations

29 cards

Create Flashcards