Introduction to Evaluative Arguments

Introduction to Evaluative
Arguments
Scott Hale
English 1213
Definitional Arguments:

Basis of All Knowledge/Communication
Argue that Item X belongs in Category
Y
 Scooter (X) is a murderer (Y)

Evaluative Arguments:

The next step in
Knowledge/Communication
Having defined an item--X is a Y
 We then evaluate that item--X is a
good/bad Y…
 Evaluations depend upon definitions

Requirements for
Evaluative Arguments:

Evaluations require
comparison/contrast between items
within the same category/genus

To argue that this is a good/bad chair
requires that we compare/contrast it
with other chairs...
AND...
Evaluative Arguments must be couched
in evaluative terms….
 Adjectives...
 Good/bad; effective/ineffective;
successful/unsuccessful; cooperative/
uncooperative; resentful/unresentful…
 Flag Day is a joyous holiday...

Toulmin Schema:
Today is a beautiful day b/c it is sunny.
 C: Today is a beautiful day
 R: b/c it is sunny
 G: Today is sunny; Ev: Support that it is
sunny today
 W: Any day that is sunny is a beautiful
day
 B: Support that beautiful days are
sunny

Strategy for
Constructing Evaluative
Arguments:
Construct convincing criteria for
evaluation...
 Demonstrate that the evaluated item
possess those criteria...
 Sunniness is the criteria for a beautiful
day
 Today possesses that criteria
(sunniness)

Difficulties in
Constructing Evaluative
Arguments:

Demonstrating that the evaluated item
possess that criteria
(Synthesis/analysis)
Constructing convincing criteria…
 Problems...

Problem of Standards:
Normal vs. Ideal:

Curfew...

Normal--12:00 Midnight

Ideal--Before sunrise
Problem of Mitigating
Circumstances:
Circumstances out of the
ordinary/Things we can’t control...
 Revision Guides…?
 Drunk?
 Hit and Run?


Mitigating Circumstances revise criteria
Problem of 2 Goods vs. 2
Bads:

2000 Ferrari vs. 1979 Pinto?
2000 Ferrari vs. 2000 Lamborghini?
 1979 Pinto vs. 1974 Nova?


Evaluating 2 Goods vs. 2 Bads revise
criteria
Problem of Seductive
Empirical Measures:

Statistics…
100% of College students drink on
Friday night…
 100% of College students study on
Saturday night…


Control the numbers…
Problem of Cost:
What happen if the best costs too
much?
 To enhance student learning, OU should
buy every student a laptop computer...
 To teach effective birth control, every
student should have to have sex using a
condom…
 Cost isn’t always about $$

Determining Criteria for
Evaluative Arguments:
Step 1: Determine the genus--too
broad/too narrow?
 Step 2: Determine the purpose/function
of genus
 Step 3: Determine criteria based upon
purpose/function
 Step 4: Give relative weight to criteria-which is most important?

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