effective reasoning response sheet #12 fall 2012



Language Arts




Directions: During the discussion of key terms and concepts about effective reasoning, read along in the teacher side ( the left side) of the notes. Then, where there are blanks, you fill in the missing words on the student (right side) area and add any comments that help clarify the idea for you.

EVALUATING EVIDENCE : Now we will focus on individual argument

1. Arguments depend on the nature of the evidence. Evidence represents the grounds for a claim. Evidence is important, as shown in the fall of 2004, when CBS News was forced to retract a story about President Bush’s National Guard service because of faulty evidence. Once news agencies found they had prematurely called the

2000 election, once for each candidate, because of misleading evidence!

2. The evidence should be agreed upon by all participants. It thereby serves as a secure starting point for the dispute. If it is contested, discussion of the claim stops until the adequacy of the evidence is established. In ordinary usage, the test of evidence is what a critical audience would accept.

3. A LINCOLN EXAMPLE Abraham Lincoln’s

Cooper Union Address illustrates many types of evidence. In this 1860 address, Lincoln responds to

Stephen Douglas’s claim that the Founding Fathers supported his position on the issue of slavery.

Lincoln accepts Douglas’s premise, but then produces evidence that the Founding Fathers were actually consistent with his position, rather than that of Douglas.

All of Lincoln’s arguments illustrate congressional regulation of slavery, which Douglas claimed the Founding Fathers opposed. Thus,

Evidence answers the question

“____________________________” or


Lincoln uses ______________ types of evidence.

*He relies on historical documents, a kind of tangible object.

*He uses shared historical understanding, a variety of social consensus.

*He relies on the credibility of the “Founding

Fathers,” as stipulated by Stephen Douglas.

*He accumulates examples of specific founders and their views.

*He refers to congressional organization of the

Southwest Territory, where Congress did not prohibit slavery, but did regulate it.

Lincoln concluded that the majority of the signers of the Constitution believed that Congress had the power to regulate slavery --- a position opposed to

Douglas’s use of the Founding Fathers.

4. COMMON TYPES OF EVIDENCE Common types of evidence can be grouped under the headings of



*Examples include brief mentions of an instance, as well as illustrations that are fully developed instances. The truth of the examples must be accepted before the argumentation can proceed.

*Statistics include raw numbers, the simplest statistics. Percentages & ratios are other statistics.

Statistics also include measures of central tendency (the mean , the median, and the mode), and probability statements. The truth of the numbers must be accepted.

*Tangible objects are another form of evidence.

In a criminal case the murder weapon would be tangible evidence. Words, as in a historical document, can also be tangible evidence.

*Testimony of fact or opinion is another type of evidence. We rely on it when we cannot know directly or about which we are not qualified to have a reliable opinion. The testimony is accepted because of the credibility of the source. Credibility comes from competence (expertise), trustworthiness, good will, and dynamism.

Credibility can be established for oneself or derived from the use of other credible sources.

Eyewitness access to information will make one a credible source. But background and training, or a good track record will also do this.

*Social consensus consists of beliefs that function as if they were facts. “common knowledge” is a kind of social consensus. Shared value judgments, shared historical understandings, previously established conclusions, and stipulations are other types.

5. Actual audiences often have looser standards for evidence. (Ex. To Kill A Mock. Trial)

*He talks about the prohibition on importing slaves into Louisiana Territory.

*He refers to the Missouri Compromise.

The evidence statements “There have been two pairs of father/son presidents as of 2002,” and

“55% of baby boomers are planning to retire before they reach the national retirement age” are examples of __________________________ evidence.

In OJ Simpson’s trial in the 80s, a glove found on the scene of the murder was ________________ evidence. It was also subject to test for accuracy

(Did it fit Mr. Simpson?)

Alan Greenspan, long time chairman of the Federal

Reserve, had a good track record of calling market changes, and thus was regarded as a

____________________source on the economy.

Things so generally believed that the audience treats them as facts, such as the shared value judgment that places a high priority on what would be good for children (ex. Politicians claim that what they value is no child left behind) is