Module 5

The purpose of Module Five is to apply the knowledge and skills you have gained related to rhetorical analysis and argumentation to composing and peer-reviewing Essay #2 rough drafts. You will also learn about fallacies.

Objectives

The Module Five assignments will guide you toward the following objectives:

  • Continue developing an understanding of academic argument
  • Recognize and understand the importance of fallacies in writing
  • Use argument- and essay-drafting skills to create a strong rough draft of Essay #2
  • Engage in online peer-review to generate revision ideas

Overview

By this time, you should have a good understanding of the fundamental components of argument writing and a topic in mind for Essay #2. The focus of this module, then, is on drafting Essay #2 rough drafts and peer-reviewing those drafts with classmates. Along with this, you will study fallacies and the significance of fallacies in arguments. By the end of this module, you should have an even stronger understanding of academic argument and be in great shape to revise Essay #2 rough drafts so you can submit a spectacular brief argument essay to close out this second unit of Writing 101!

Readings

The Module Five readings provide an overview of logical fallacies. You may also find it helpful to review the Module Four readings that provide guidance on argument writing.

WikiBooks

Writing Commons

Logical Fallacies and Essay #2 Peer-Review: A Few Notes

As noted above, you will spend the first part of Module Five writing your rough draft and the second part engaging in peer-review with classmates. Along with this, you will learn about and discuss logical fallacies with the idea that you will apply what you learn to your rough drafts and to your understanding of logical fallacies in general. Below, you will find a few notes on logical fallacies and peer-review. You will also find a few notes on counterarguments, as addressing counterarguments will be important in your Essay #2.

Logical Fallacies

Those of you who have studied law and debate may already have an understanding of logical fallacies; likely, though, the concept is a new one and may feel like a difficult concept to grasp at first. Really, though, the concept is just what it sounds like – falsehoods related to “logos.”

man with a pensive look
“Doubt” by danymena88. CC-0.

When a written argument, a speech, an advertisement, or some other form of persuasive writing contains these falsities, or lies, and we recognize these holes in logic, it becomes less persuasive to us. You can think of it as losing “logic” points. The concern, though, is that we don’t always recognize these holes, as logical fallacies can be sneaky and extremely tough to identify. We are persuaded by them all the time in political rhetoric, advertisements, personal arguments and conversations, and many other forms, and we often do not recognize it! Understanding logical fallacies will benefit you two key ways:

  • As a reader: By being able to identify logical fallacies around you, you will be a more critical and informed consumer of information.
  • As a communicator: By being able to prevent logical fallacies from sneaking into your writing (and conversations, actions, etc.), you will be a more responsible, credible, and persuasive communicator.

Logical fallacies fall into many different categories, and the required reading for this module outlines some of the most common. One common one relates to celebrities in advertising. Celebrities are used constantly to sell products. Have you ever considered whether this is logical? Is the idea that a product is a high-quality product because a celebrity endorses it logical?

No, but this strategy is persuasive because advertisers want consumers to equate the ideas that a celebrity represents (fame, beauty, wealth) with their products. This fallacy can fall into many categories including “appeal to authority fallacy,” which is based on the assumption that something must be true because a “voice of authority” says it is true. Use of celebrities in advertising also falls under the “ad populum fallacy” category (which is defined in the reading).

Another common fallacy is the “ad hominem” fallacy, or “personal attack.” This can consist of name calling or of other actions that attack a person’s personal character. Many politicians engage in ad hominem fallacies during the heat of campaign seasons. Those who are alert to this lose trust for their perspectives; those who do not recognize the fallacy may be more persuaded by these politicians’ ideas.

The anti-war slogan “Make Love Not War” that emerged in the 1960s is another example of a fallacy, as it sets up an “either-or” premise by suggesting that people have just two choices: “love” or “war.” In actuality, of course, more choices exist – we know the world is much more complex – but the slogan feels persuasive because it is catchy and makes a point that resonated, and continues to resonate, with people.

Your instructor hopes this reading and discussion will help you not only draft a logical argument that is free of fallacies but will help you be aware of the logical fallacies that surface in all the texts and voices that surround you so you can make critically sound, healthy choices in life.

Peer-Review

The second part of this module will focus on peer-review, and the approach will be very similar to the approach you followed for the Essay #1 peer-review. You will post your rough draft to the CD5a topic under Discussions. Full instructions for peer-review are provided in the discussion prompt. Be sure to read the instructions carefully to ensure you have a clear understanding of the purpose and value of peer-review and the process you will follow. Hopefully by this point in the course, you are feeling more confident about peer-review. As with the Essay #1 peer-review, you will gain the most from the process as both a reader and a writer by offering substantive, reader-response feedback.

Counterarguments

As is noted on the Essay #2 instructions page, one requirement of your brief argument essay is to address counterarguments. The readings for this module should help guide you. The key idea to keep in mind is that acknowledging counterarguments is a valuable step to take in your arguments, as in doing so, you let readers now you have given thought to other perspectives.

Think about it. Have you ever felt more inclined to listen to a view that you initially disagreed with because the speaker or writer showed an awareness of your position? Have you been more open to listening in arguments because the person you were arguing with used phrases like, “I understand your perspective” and “Your position has merit”? The same approach relates to argument writing: those who disagree will be more persuaded to at least give thought to an argument if the writer shows an awareness of their reasons for disagreeing.

Generally, when addressing and responding to counterarguments, you have two choices:

  1. Concede: Identify the counterargument and admit the argument is valid. Then, prove that you can accept it without changing your original position. Let’s say, for example, that a classmate is arguing that smoking should be banned from all PCC campuses and recognizes that a common counterargument is that smoking is a right. Here is an example of how she might concede and then come back to her argument: Some argue that smoking is a right and that smokers should be allowed to smoke if they so choose. While it is true that smoking is a right, non-smokers have a right to breathe clean air. Smokers should be able to continue to exercise their right to smoke in their private homes, as long as it does not infringe upon the rights of others.
  2. Refute: Identify the counterargument and present evidence to deny the validity of the counterargument. Here is how our classmate could refute the counterargument that smoking does not cause health concerns: Some argue that smoking does not cause health concerns and that evidence that shows such is questionable. While this argument may have been widely accepted decades ago, recent research that shows the damaging effects of cigarette smoke cannot be disputed. Even cigarette companies, in fact, agree that smoking does damage one’s health…

As you draft your brief argument essay, consider the opposing perspectives related to your argument and determine the best way to address these counterarguments in your essay. Addressing counterarguments will strengthen your credibility and the overall persuasiveness of your argument.

Assignments

Discussions

CD5a: Peer-Review, Essay #2

Essay #2 Peer-Review: Overview

Use this forum to workshop your rough drafts of your Essay #2. You should post your draft and workshop responses to three group members’ rough drafts by the due date noted in the Course Schedule. You will follow the same basic approach as you followed in the Essay #1 peer-review. A few reminders and notes:

Essay #2 Peer-Review: Process

  1. Choose carefully when selecting drafts to review to ensure that everyone gets an equal amount of peer-review feedback.
  2. Reviews should be at least 200 words each.
  3. Use the Essay #2 Grading Rubric to offer feedback. It is recommended that you print it out and have it beside you as you offer feedback or having it easily accessible in a separate browser window. You can access this rubric by going to Content and selecting “Essay #2: Brief Argument Grading Rubric” under “Quick Links to Major Assignments and Grading Rubrics” or clicking on the following link to open it in a new browser window: Essay #2: Brief Argument Grading Rubric
  4. Be as helpful and specific as possible!

Do not make comments directly to drafts; instead, make comments in response paragraphs and post these response paragraphs as replies to drafts you review. Divide your comments into the following three main areas which directly reflect the assignment requirements and areas identified in the Grading Rubric and outlined below.

Essay #2 Peer-Review: Feedback

  1. Content: First, identify a strength related to the content. Then, offer suggestions. Questions to consider include: Does the essay focus consistently on developing and supporting an argument? Does the author come across as credible (ethos) and logical (logos)? How could the author build credibility and make his or her position feel more logical? Does the author use overly emotional strategies that turn you away…or the opposite? Does the author recognize and respond to counterarguments? Do any areas go off on tangents or contain information that is not related to the argument? What areas could the author develop and revise to strengthen the content of the argument?
  2. Organization: First, identify a strength related to organization; then, offer feedback on the overall organization of the essay. Questions to consider include: Does it contain an introduction, a series of focused body paragraphs, and a conclusion? Does the introduction introduce the issue at hand and reveal an argument (likely in the form of a thesis statement)? Does each body paragraph focus on one main idea related to the argument? Does the conclusion sum up the main points and offer final insights about the writer’s argumentative position?
  3. MLA and Grammar: First, identify a strength of MLA or grammar. Then, offer MLA and grammar suggestions. Questions to consider include: Does the writer follow MLA format? Does the tone feel appropriate for a college essay? Is the essay free of errors? What could the writer do to improve?

Remember those guidelines posted to the “Peer-Review: A Few Notes” page to ensure you have a solid sense of the goal and value of peer-review. You can access this page by going to Content and then locating it under “Course Materials” or just click the following link to open this page in a new browser window: Peer-Review: A Few Notes

Use this peer-review as an opportunity to develop your understanding of argumentation, to gain ideas for strengthening your Essay #2 rough draft, to participate in a community of readers and writers, and to grow as a reader and writer.

Questions? Please contact your instructor!

CD5b: Logical Fallacies

The purpose of this Class Discussion is to gain a deeper understanding of logical fallacies. The value of understanding logical fallacies is twofold: (1) By recognizing logical fallacies in arguments of others, you can better assess whether those arguments are logical (and can avoid being manipulated into falling for illogical ideas), and (2) By avoiding logical fallacies in your own arguments, you will ensure your logos is strong.

Specific goals:

  1. First Post: After reading through the “Logical Fallacies” readings from Module Five, identify one of the fallacies and provide an example of that fallacy.  The example can be one you make up or one you locate in an argument (an advertisement, written argument, speech, etc.).
  2. Replies: Post three responses/replies (at least 100 words each) to classmates in which you ask questions about classmates’ ideas, discuss logical fallacies in more detail, agree/disagree with classmates, and push ideas further.

Remember: You want to avoid falling for fallacies in the arguments of others and avoid them in your own arguments!

Complete the above by the due date noted in the Course Schedule. Use this forum as an opportunity to really sharpen your understanding of fallacies. Questions? Please contact your instructor!

Dropbox

Essay #1: Final Draft

Complete and submit Essay #1 final draft via the Dropbox tool.

Looking Ahead

In Module Six, we will begin Unit 3, “Research Argument.” You will revise Essay #2 drafts independently as you learn more about research and generate ideas for this final unit.