Monday, December 17, 2007

Day 4

Day 4 is the hardest. I need to get across to students that Claim + Reason isn't necessarily a good or bad argument in and of itself. I need for them to dig deeper and understand that underlying every argument is a premise that they may or may not accept.

For example:

Jennifer Lopez is a good singer because she sells a lot of CDs.

Claim = JLo is a good singer.
Reason = she sells a lot of CDs
Premise linking claim and reason = Selling a lot of CDs makes you a good singer. Or, good singers sell a lot of records. Or, popularity equals quality.

This leads to a vigorous discussion as students reveal times when popularity did not equal quality. They acknowledge the power of marketing and the gullibility of consumers. Then I point out to them that they're communists if they don't believe in the central concept of capitalism: that in the free market, quality will rise to the top and inferior products will disappear from the market. They don't like that part. ;)

They like this reason better:
JLo is a good singer because she's won awards for her singing.

They are more likely to agree that someone who has won awards, who has earned the support and respect of her peers, may be a good singer.

It's also easier for them to see the premise when I make the reason something crazy. For example, I give them this example:

JLo is a good singer because she wore that great green dress to the Oscars one year.

They quickly understand that the premise linking the claim and the evidence is ridiculous and unsupportable. They understand that they could never persuade someone that JLo is a good singer with such a bad argument.

No comments: