Argue Without Filtering Through the Self

In academic writing, we argue without filtering everything through I think statements, just as we avoid you overuse.  Not only are those pronouns prone to tone problems, but also they create logical dead-ends.

“It’s true for me” is one such issue: relativism.  In academic argumentation, this carries no weight.  That’s why we only even allow personal examples on a limited basis.  But things do change over time, since most of the time you and I had been completely omitted in past decades.

Why bring up these points?  Skeptical readers do nt want an argument to be filtered through “I really believe that ______” statements, even though we realize that the thesis is one’s opinion.  We dress up the thesis by avoiding I.  We pretend an objectivity we know is an ideal but unachievable vantage.  This is typical of academic writing.  Call it a game, but by now we know why this can be an important game to know how to play well.

One opening into the writing of the claim might be to argue how the term is typically viewed.  Again, this can be done only if the writer is careful with wording and avoids stereotyping.

Pitfalls for argument include passivity in setup or interpretation (realize that I’m more interested in your use of a source bit than in the bit itself), tone problems, pointing out of facts masquerading as argument–since this should be an argument to alter the meaning of the term to some clear extent, and lack of examples.

Also, if the writer chooses examples, do the show the extent to which the are typical or representative?  Such use of illustration is important as we move between showing and telling, concrete and abstract.

Too much generalizing and you’ll have a newspaper editorial or sermon. . . not what we are looking for!  Do not write as if you are speaking.  Do set up the sources you bring to our attention.  Oh, and it also helps if the sources support what you think, such that the paragraphs are yours and not merely in the paper because they are 80% from them.

Definitional arguments are the plagiarized of the essays in the course.  Knowing the traps in student tendencies, can you slip them?

Go back to the chapter material in the text about arguments of definition.  There are good reminders there.

–Hope this helps!Eeeewwww!  That post subject of filtering seems a bit graphic.  I’m reminded of the notion that what we drink is dinosaur urine. . . check out why in the linked Tech Times article.