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A Note about the Cover

Is everything really an argument? Seeing the images on the cover of this book might make you wonder. The “Free Speech Zone” sign, for example, instantly calls to mind the debates across the United States about the limits of free expression, especially on college campuses. The ominous-looking hand coming out of the laptop suggests the ease with which hackers obtain personal data. Does the image of teens playing on cell phones in the back seat of a car argue for or against the ways that technology is shaping how we are communicating with one another? The polar bear on a shrinking ice floe reminds us of the scientific fact of climate change but also invites a discussion of how powerful visuals can sway our opinions and beliefs. As for the “100% vegan” sticker, what’s your impression? Is it a proud proclamation of


one’s identity or values? A straightforward fact about a food’s origins? A sharp commentary on the influence of advertising on the food industry? What’s your take?





Eighth Edition

Everything’s an Argument with Readings Andrea A. Lunsford


John J. Ruszkiewicz


Keith Walters



For Bedford/St. Martin’s

Vice President, Editorial, Macmillan Learning Humanities: Edwin Hill Executive Program Director for English: Leasa Burton Senior Program Manager: John E. Sullivan III Executive Marketing Manager: Joy Fisher Williams Director of Content Development, Humanities: Jane Knetzger Senior Developmental Editor: Rachel Goldberg Associate Editor: Lexi DeConti Editorial Assistant: William Hwang Senior Content Project Manager: Ryan Sullivan Senior Workflow Project Manager: Jennifer Wetzel Production Coordinator: Brianna Lester Media Project Manager: Jodi Isman Media Editor: Julia Domenicucci Editorial Services: Lumina Datamatics, Inc. Composition: Lumina Datamatics, Inc. Cartographer: Mapping Specialists, Ltd. Text Permissions Manager: Kalina Ingham Text Permissions Editor: Arthur Johnson, Lumina Datamatics, Inc. Photo Permissions Editor: Angela Boehler Photo Researcher: Krystyna Borgen, Lumina Datamatics, Inc. Director of Design, Content Management: Diana Blume Text Design: Claire Seng-Niemoeller, Anna Palchik, and Graphic World, Inc. Cover Design: William Boardman Cover Images: (laptop) fStop Images/Epoxydude/Getty Images; (polar


bear) dagsjo/Getty Images; (vegan label) Good_Studio/Getty Images; (free speech sign) Imfoto/Shutterstock; (kids with cell phones) Hero Images/Getty Images

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Acknowledgments Text acknowledgments and copyrights appear at the back of the book on pages 793–94, which constitute an extension of the copyright page. Art acknowledgments and copyrights appear on the same page as the art selections they cover.


Preface When we began work on this text in 1996 (the first edition came out in 1998), we couldn’t have anticipated all the events of the next two tumultuous decades, or all the changes to public and private discourse, or the current deeply divided state of our nation. But we have tried hard, over these decades, to track such changes and the ways rhetoric and argument have evolved and responded to them.

Certainly, we recognized the increasingly important role digital culture plays in all our lives, and so with each new edition we have included more on the technologies of communication, particularly those associated with social media; and we early on recognized that, like rhetoric itself, social media can be used for good or for ill, to bring people together or to separate them.

We have also carefully tracked the forms that arguments take today, from cartoons and graphic narratives to blogs and other postings to multimodal projects of almost every conceivable kind. While argument has always surrounded us, today it does so in an amazing array of genres and forms, including aural and visual components that strengthen and amplify arguments.

The sheer proliferation of information (not to mention misinformation, disinformation, and outright lies) that bombards all writers led us to reaffirm our commitment to studying and teaching style, since (as Richard Lanham and others argue) in the age of information overload, style is the tool writers possess to try to capture and keep the attention of audiences. Attention to style reveals other changes, such as the


increasing use of informal registers and conversational styles even in academic arguments.

Perhaps most important, though, a look back over the last twenty-two years reaffirms the crucial role that rhetoric can and should play in personal, work, and school lives. At its best, rhetoric is the art, theory, and practice of ethical communication, needed more sorely today than perhaps ever before. Everything’s an Argument with Readings presents this view of rhetoric and illustrates it with a fair and wide range of perspectives and views, which we hope will inspire student writers to think of themselves as rhetors, as Quintilian’s “good person, speaking well.”

Key Features Two books in one, neatly linked. Up front is a brief guide to Aristotelian, Toulmin, and Rogerian argument; common types of arguments; presenting arguments; and researching arguments. In the back is a thematically organized anthology of readings in a wide range of genres. Handy cross-references in the margins allow students to move easily from the argument chapters to specific examples in the readings and from the readings to appropriate rhetorical instruction.

Short, relatable excerpts weave in the debates that rage around us. From #metoo tweets and protest posters to essays and scholarly writing, boldfaced examples illustrate the arguments happening in politics, economics, journalism, and media, with brief student-friendly analyses.

Five thematic readings chapters that encourage students to explore


complex arguments. Readings on “How Does Popular Culture Stereotype You?,” “Has the Internet Destroyed Privacy?,” and “How Free Should Campus Speech Be?” demand that students consider the many sides of contemporary issues across the political spectrum, going beyond a simple pro/con stance.

A real-world, full-color design that builds students’ understanding of visual rhetoric. Presenting readings in the style of their original publications helps students recognize and think about the effect that design and visuals have on written and multimodal arguments.

New to This Edition A new section on rhetorical listening in Chapter 1. The very first chapter of the eighth edition now emphasizes the importance of listening rhetorically and respectfully, encouraging readers to move beyond “echo chambers” and build bridges among all viewpoints.

Eight new full-length models in the guide provide engaging, topical arguments of fact, definition, evaluation, cause and effect, proposals, and rhetorical analysis. Legal scholar Stephen L. Carter offers a Toulmin analysis of whether racial epithets should be considered free speech, while New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof presents an op-ed in defense of public wilderness.

Five new annotated student essays address topics students care about, from millennials’ love of food to breaking a social media addiction.

Thirty-one engaging new readings on hot-button issues such as free speech, food, language, privacy, and stereotypes. Selections


represent a range of genres and span the full gamut of social and political views, including:

excerpts from a recent Gallup poll showing what college students think about First Amendment issues visual arguments and a scholarly essay supporting and critiquing the concept of racial microaggressions best-selling essayist Roxane Gay on the language we use to describe sexual violence an Economist blog post acknowledging that sport shooting can be, well, fun an argument against veganism . . . written by a vegan

A new introduction in the instructor’s notes. Focusing on the teaching of argument, this new introduction gives experienced and first-time instructors a strong pedagogical foundation. Sample syllabi for both semester and quarter courses provide help for pacing all types of courses.

We’re all in. As always. Bedford/St. Martin’s is as passionately committed to the discipline of English as ever, working hard to provide support and services that make it easier for you to teach your course your way.

Find community support at the Bedford/St. Martin’s English Community (, where you can follow our Bits blog for new teaching ideas, download titles from our professional resource series, and review projects in the pipeline.

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Reading comprehension quizzes, to help you quickly gauge your students’ understanding of the assigned reading. Interactive exercises and tutorials for reading, writing, and research. Diagnostics provide opportunities to assess areas for improvement and assign additional exercises based on students’ needs. Visual reports show performance by topic, class, and student as well as improvement over time.

Pre-built units—including readings, videos, quizzes, and more— are easy to adapt and assign by adding your own materials and mixing them with our high-quality multimedia content and ready- made assessment options, such as LearningCurve adaptive quizzing and Exercise Central. Use LaunchPad on its own or integrate it with your school’s learning management system so that your class is always on the same page.

LaunchPad for Everything’s an Argument with Readings can be purchased on its own or packaged with the print book at a significant discount. An activation code is required. To order LaunchPad for Everything’s an Argument with Readings with the print book, use ISBN 978-1-319-25363-9. For more information, go to

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Select Value Packages Add value to your text by packaging a Bedford/St. Martin’s resource, such as Writer’s Help 2.0, with Everything’s an Argument with

Readings at a significant discount. Contact your sales representative for more information.

Writer’s Help 2.0 is a powerful online writing resource that helps students find answers, whether they are searching for writing advice on their own or as part of an assignment.

Smart search. Built on research with more than 1,600 student writers, the smart search in Writer’s Help 2.0 provides reliable results even when students use novice terms, such as flow and unstuck. Trusted content from our best-selling handbooks. Andrea Lunsford’s user-friendly tone ensures that students have clear advice and examples for all of their writing questions. Diagnostics that help establish a baseline for instruction. Assign diagnostics to identify areas of strength and areas for improvement and to help students plan a course of study. Use visual reports to track performance by topic, class, and student as well as improvement over time. Adaptive exercises that engage students. Writer’s Help 2.0 includes LearningCurve, game-like online quizzing that adapts to what students already know and helps them focus on what they need to learn.

Student access is packaged with Everything’s an Argument with Readings at a significant discount. Order ISBN 978-1-319-25623-4 for Writer’s Help 2.0, Lunsford Version, to ensure your students have easy access to online writing support. Students who rent or buy a used book can purchase access and instructors may request free access at

Instructor Resources You have a lot to do in your course. We want to make it easy for you to find the support you need—and to get it quickly.

Instructor’s Notes for Everything’s an Argument with Readings is available as a PDF that can be downloaded from Visit the instructor resources tab for Everything’s an Argument with Readings. In addition to chapter overviews and teaching tips, the instructor’s manual offers an introduction about teaching the argument course, sample syllabi, correlations to the Council of Writing Program Administrators’ Outcomes Statement, and potential answers to the “Respond” questions in the book.

Acknowledgments We owe a debt of gratitude to many people for making Everything’s an Argument with Readings possible. Our first thanks must go to the thousands of people we have taught in our writing courses over nearly four decades, particularly students at the Ohio State University, Stanford University, the University of Texas at Austin, and Portland State University. Almost every chapter in this book has been informed by a classroom encounter with a student whose shrewd observation or perceptive question sent an ambitious lesson plan spiraling to the ground. (Anyone who has tried to teach claims and warrants on the fly to skeptical first-year writers will surely appreciate why we have qualified our claims in the Toulmin chapter so carefully.) But students have also provided the motive for writing this book. More than ever, they need to know how to read and write arguments effectively if they

are to secure a place in a world growing ever smaller and more rhetorically challenging.

We are deeply grateful to the editors at Bedford/St. Martin’s who have contributed their formidable talents to this book. In particular, we want to thank the ingenious and efficient Rachel Goldberg for guiding us so patiently and confidently—helping us locate just the right items whenever we needed fresh examples and images and gracefully recasting passage after passage to satisfy permissions mandates. Senior content project manager Ryan Sullivan was relentlessly upbeat and kind in all his communications, making the ever-more-complex stages of production almost a pleasure. We also appreciate the extensive support and help of Lexi DeConti, who kept us attuned to examples and readings that might appeal to students today. We are similarly grateful to senior program manager John Sullivan, whose support was unfailing; Kalina Ingham, Arthur Johnson, and Tom Wilcox, for text permissions; Angela Boehler and Krystyna Borgen, for art permissions; William Boardman, for our cover design; Bridget Leahy, copyeditor; and William Hwang, editorial assistant. All of you made editing the eighth edition feel fresh and creative.

We’d also like to thank the astute instructors who reviewed the seventh edition: Brigitte Anderson, University of Pikeville; Samantha Battrick, Truman State University; Kathryn Bennett, Old Dominion University; Jeanne Bohannon, Kennesaw State University; Rebecca Cepek, Duquesne University; Laura Dumin, University of Central Oklahoma; Tim Engles, Eastern Illinois University; Karen Feldman, Seminole State College of Florida; Africa Fine, Palm Beach State College;


Darius Frasure, Mountain View College; Erin Gallagher, Washington State University; Ben Graydon, Daytona State College; Joseph Hernandez, Mt. San Jacinto College; Julie Moore-Felux, Northwest Vista College; Laurie Murray, Anderson University; Kolawole Olaiya, Anderson University; Leslie Rapparlie, University of Colorado; Thomas Reynolds, Northwestern State University; Loreen Smith, Isothermal Community College; Benjamin Syn, University of Colorado; Gina Szabady, Lane Community College; Amy Walton, Iowa State University; and Miriam Young, Truman State University.

Thanks, too, to Sherrie Weller of Loyola Chicago University and Valerie Duff-Stroutmann of Newbury College, who updated the instructor’s notes for this eighth edition with a new introduction, new model syllabi, new points for discussion, and new classroom activities. We hope this resource will be useful as instructors build their courses. Finally, we are grateful to the students whose fine argumentative essays or materials appear in our chapters: Cameron Hauer, Kate Beispel, Jenny Kim, Laura Tarrant, Natasha Rodriguez, Caleb Wong, Juliana Chang, George Chidiac, and Charlotte Geaghan-Breiner. We hope that Everything’s an Argument with Readings responds to what students and instructors have said they want and need.

Andrea A. Lunsford

John J. Ruszkiewicz

Keith Walters

Correlation to Council of Writing Program


Administrators’ (WPA) Outcomes Everything’s an Argument with Readings works with the Council of Writing Program Administrators’ Outcomes Statement for first-year composition courses (last updated 2014).

2014 WPA Outcomes

Support in Everything’s an Argument with Readings, 8e

Rhetorical Knowledge

Learn and use key rhetorical concepts through analyzing and composing a variety of texts.

Chapter 1, “Understanding Arguments and Reading Them Critically” (pp. 3–31), establishes the central elements of the rhetorical situation and encourages rhetorical listening.

Chapter 6, “Rhetorical Analysis” (pp. 97–132), further develops these concepts and teaches students how to analyze a rhetorical analysis and compose their own.

Each chapter offers dozens of written, visual, and multimodal texts to analyze, in both the guide portion and the thematic reader.

Gain experience reading and composing in several genres to understand how genre conventions shape and are shaped by readers’ and writers’

Everything’s an Argument with Readings provides engaging readings across genres, from academic essays and newspaper editorials to tweets and infographics. “Respond” boxes throughout each chapter (e.g., pp. 56–57) invite students to think critically about the material. For more genre variety, Everything’s an Argument with Readings also contains a five-chapter thematic reader with additional multimodal genres, including an art installation, Web articles, scholarly essays, and political cartoons.


practices and purposes.

Each chapter on a specific type of argument features project ideas (e.g., p. 186), giving students detailed prompts to write their own arguments of fact, arguments of definition, evaluations, causal arguments, and proposals.

Develop facility in responding to a variety of situations and contexts, calling for purposeful shifts in voice, tone, level of formality, design, medium, and/or structure.

Chapter 13, “Style in Arguments” (pp. 321–45), addresses word choice, tone, sentence structure, punctuation, and figurative language, with engaging examples of each.

The “Cultural Contexts for Argument” boxes throughout the text (e.g., p. 163) address how people from other cultures might respond to different styles or structures of argument. This feature offers suggestions on how to think about argument in an unfamiliar cultural context.

Understand and use a variety of technologies to address a range of audiences.

Chapter 16, “Multimodal Arguments” (pp. 381–402), addresses how new media has transformed the array of choices for making arguments and reaching audiences. This chapter teaches how to analyze multimodal arguments as well as how to create them through Web sites, videos, wikis, blogs, social media, memes, posters, and comics.

Match the capacities of different environments (e.g., print & electronic) to varying rhetorical situations.

Chapter 14, “Visual Rhetoric” (pp. 346–62), discusses the power of visual rhetoric and how students can use visuals in their own work.

Chapter 15, “Presenting Arguments” (pp. 363–80), includes material on incorporating various media into presentations and Webcasts.

Chapter 16, “Multimodal Arguments” (pp. 381–402), analyzes the evolving landscape of argument across media platforms.


Chapter 17, “Academic Arguments” (pp. 405–37), covers the conventions of academic arguments.

Critical Thinking, Reading, and Composing

Use composing and reading for inquiry, learning, thinking, and communicating in various rhetorical contexts.

Chapter 1, “Understanding Arguments and Reading Them Critically” (pp. 3–31), features a section called “Why Listen to Arguments Rhetorically and Respectfully” (pp. 7–8). It teaches students to listen openly and constructively and calls attention to the need to escape “echo chambers,” respectfully consider all viewpoints, and find common ground.

Throughout Everything’s an Argument with Readings, students are invited to delve deeper into current issues in the world around them, considering the various arguments presented in tweets, newspapers, scholarly papers, court rulings, and even bumper stickers. Everything’s an Argument with Readings guides students in asking critical questions about these contexts and learning how to respond to and create their own compositions. Chapters dedicated to central types of argument explain how students might best approach each writing situation. The chapters close with a guide to writing arguments of that type:

Chapter 8, “Arguments of Fact” (pp. 164–96)

Chapter 9, “Arguments of Definition” (pp. 197–223)

Chapter 10, “Evaluations” (pp. 224–54)

Chapter 11, “Causal Arguments” (pp. 255–85)

Chapter 12, “Proposals” (pp. 286–318)


Chapter 16, “Multimodal Arguments” (pp. 381–402)

Read a diverse range of texts, attending especially to relationships between assertion and evidence, to patterns of organization, to interplay between verbal and nonverbal elements, and how these features function for different audiences and situations.

Chapter 7, “Structuring Arguments” (pp. 135–63), examines making claims and using evidence to support those claims. It delves into the structure of Rogerian and Toulmin arguments, showing how different argument types work for different writing situations.

Each Guide to Writing features sections on “Formulating a Claim” and “Thinking about Organization” (e.g., pp. 212 and 214), emphasizing the use of evidence and the structure of the argument.

Locate and evaluate primary and secondary research materials, including journal articles, essays, books, databases, and informal Internet sources.

Chapter 18, “Finding Evidence” (pp. 438–53), covers locating evidence from print, electronic, and field research sources.

Chapter 19, “Evaluating Sources” (pp. 454–63), addresses how to assess those sources effectively.

Use strategies —  such as interpretation,

Chapter 20, “Using Sources,” provides detailed explanations of summary, paraphrase, and quotation and when to use each approach (pp. 467–73). The


synthesis, response, critique, and design/redesign  — to compose texts that integrate the writer’s ideas with those from appropriate sources.

chapter discusses framing with introductory phrases and signal verbs, and it presents multiple ways to connect source material to a student’s own ideas — by establishing a context, introducing a term or concept, developing a claim, highlighting differences, and avoiding “patchwriting” (pp. 480–82).

Chapter 21, “Plagiarism and Academic Integrity” (pp. 484–93), highlights the importance of acknowledging another writer’s work.

Chapter 22, “Documenting Sources” (pp. 494–532), concludes the research section of the book with a discussion of MLA and APA documentation, including a wide range of citation models in both formats.


Develop a writing project through multiple drafts.

Chapter 17, “Academic Arguments” (pp. 405–37), stresses the importance of working through multiple drafts of a project, using revision and peer feedback to improve the document.

Develop flexible strategies for reading, drafting, reviewing, collaboration, revising, rewriting, rereading, and editing.

Writing is a fundamental focus of Everything’s an Argument with Readings, and students learn to critique their own work and the work of others in almost every part of the book. Each Guide to Writing, focusing on a specific type of argument in the Part 2 chapters, contains step-by-step advice on drafting, researching, and organizing, as well as peer review questions about the claim being made, the evidence provided for the claim, and the organization and style of the essay.

The Guide to Writing also asks students to review their spelling, punctuation, mechanics, documentation, and format.


Use composing processes and tools as a means to discover and reconsider ideas.

Chapter 7, “Structuring Arguments” (pp. 135–63), provides a clear explanation for how to construct an argument and support it effectively, and it includes a brief annotated model from a classic text.

The “Developing an Academic Argument” section (pp. 411–18) in Chapter 17, “Academic Arguments” (pp. 405–37), guides students through the specific process of developing a paper in an academic setting, from selecting a topic and exploring it in depth to entering into the conversation around the chosen topic. Two annotated examples of academic arguments are provided at the end of the chapter.

Experience the collaborative and social aspects of writing processes.

Many “Respond” questions have students work in pairs or groups to analyze rhetorical situations, arguments, or appeals. See p. 36, for instance.

In Chapter 21, “Plagiarism and Academic Integrity” (pp. 484–93), students learn the importance of giving credit, getting permission to use the materials of others, citing sources appropriately, and acknowledging collaboration with their peers.

Learn to give and act on productive feedback to works in progress.

Each Guide to Writing, focusing on a specific type of argument in the Part 2 chapters, contains a “Getting and Giving Response: Questions for Peer Review” section (e.g., pp. 183–85) tailored to that argument type. These questions address the claim being made, the evidence provided for the claim, and the organization and style of the essay.

Adapt composing processes for a variety of technologies and modalities.

Awareness of technology runs throughout Everything’s an Argument with Readings, beginning in the first chapter with an exploration of arguments made via Twitter. A particular focus on multimodal arguments is made in Chapter 14, “Visual Rhetoric” (pp. 346–62),


which covers how effective images can be and instructs students on incorporating them to achieve specific rhetorical purposes, and in Chapter 16, “Multimodal Arguments” (pp. 381–402), which focuses on how technology offers new platforms and opportunities for composition, as well as some new pitfalls to avoid. These chapters provide students with tools for creating their own multimodal compositions.

Reflect on the development of composing practices and how those practices influence their work.

Everything’s an Argument with Readings presents students with an important foundation in the purpose and history of rhetoric (e.g., “Why We Make Arguments,” pp. 8–9; “The Classical Oration,” pp. 136–39) as well as thoughtful reflections on how composition and argument have changed in an increasingly digital world (e.g., “Old Media Transformed by New Media,” pp. 382–83; “Conventions in Academic Argument Are Not Static,” p. 410).

Knowledge of Conventions

Develop knowledge of linguistic structures, including grammar, punctuation, and spelling, through practice in composing and revising.

Chapter 13, “Style in Arguments” (pp. 321–45), covers sentence structure and punctuation.

Chapter 17, “Academic Arguments” (pp. 405–37), discusses drafting, revising, and editing.

The Guide to Writing in each Part 2 chapter asks students to review their spelling, punctuation, mechanics, documentation, and format.

Understand why genre

The argument chapters in Part 2 address genre conventions, discussing how the approach and structure


conventions for structure, paragraphing, tone, and mechanics vary.

of a document adapt to its genre. Each chapter also includes a Guide to Writing and Sample Arguments, which highlight differing uses of sources and tone (e.g., “Guide to Writing a Proposal,” pp. 300–305).

Gain experience negotiating variations in genre conventions.

Each of the Part 2 chapters offers a section on characterizing that particular genre (e.g., “Characterizing Evaluation,” pp. 229–32) as well as a section to guide students to develop a paper in that particular genre (e.g., “Developing an Evaluative Argument,” pp. 233–39). These chapters pay particular attention to the nuances and variations of differing purposes and approaches.

For more genre variety, Everything’s an Argument with Readings also contains a five-chapter thematic reader with additional multimodal genres, including infographics, professional reports, scholarly journal articles, and comic strips.

Learn common formats and/or design features for different kinds of texts.

Part 3, “Style and Presentation in Arguments,” offers four chapters on how to design an argument, paying attention to how these choices will vary depending on the student’s rhetorical purpose (e.g., “Using Images and Visual Design to Create Pathos,” pp. 350–52).

The “Considering Design and Visuals” section (e.g., pp. 238–39) in each Part 2 argument chapter acquaints students with common design features and formats of that type of document.

The Guide to Writing in each Part 2 chapter contains a “Considering Genre and Media” section that invites students to think about how to choose the appropriate format and medium for a particular argument.


Explore the concepts of intellectual property (such as fair use and copyright) that motivate documentation conventions.

Chapter 20, “Using Sources,” explores the topics of summary, paraphrase, and quotation and when each approach might be most appropriate (pp. 466–73). The chapter discusses framing with introductory phrases and signal verbs, and it presents multiple ways to connect source material to a student’s own ideas by establishing a context, introducing a term or concept, developing a claim, highlighting differences, and avoiding “patchwriting” (pp. 474–82).

Chapter 21, “Plagiarism and Academic Integrity” (pp. 484–93), shines a light on the importance of acknowledging the work of another.

The section on MLA style in Chapter 22, “Documenting Sources” (pp. 496–515), provides guidance on how to get permission for copyrighted material (including Internet sources) and how to navigate Creative Commons and fair use. It also offers an in-depth examination of in-text citations and Works Cited entries, with more than fifty examples of citation types and sample pages from a student essay.

Practice applying citation conventions systematically in their own work.

Chapter 22, “Documenting Sources” (pp. 494–532), examines in-text citations and Works Cited entries for both MLA and APA style, with more than fifty examples of citation types and sample pages from a student essay.


Brief Contents Preface

Part 1 Reading and Understanding Arguments

1. Understanding Arguments and Reading Them Critically

2. Arguments Based on Emotion: Pathos

3. Arguments Based on Character: Ethos

4. Arguments Based on Facts and Reason: Logos

5. Fallacies of Argument

6. Rhetorical Analysis

Part 2 Writing Arguments

7. Structuring Arguments

8. Arguments of Fact

9. Arguments of Definition

10. Evaluations

11. Causal Arguments

12. Proposals

Part 3 Style and Presentation in Arguments

13. Style in Arguments

14. Visual Rhetoric

15. Presenting Arguments

16. Multimodal Arguments

Part 4 Research and Arguments

17. Academic Arguments

18. Finding Evidence


19. Evaluating Sources

20. Using Sources

21. Plagiarism and Academic Integrity

22. Documenting Sources

Part 5 Arguments

23. How Does Popular Culture Stereotype You?

24. How Does What We Eat Define Who We Are?

25. How Does Language Influence Our World?

26. Has the Internet Destroyed Privacy?

27. How Free Should Campus Speech Be?



Readings by Type of Argument


Contents Preface

Part 1 Reading and Understanding Arguments

1. Understanding Arguments and Reading Them Critically

Everything Is an Argument

Why Read Arguments Critically and Rhetorically?

Why Listen to Arguments Rhetorically and Respectfully?

Why We Make Arguments

Arguments to Convince and Inform

Arguments to Persuade

Arguments to Make Decisions

Arguments to Understand and Explore

Occasions for Argument

Arguments about the Past

Arguments about the Future

Arguments about the Present

Kinds of Argument

Did Something Happen? Arguments of Fact

What Is the Nature of the Thing? Arguments of Definition

What Is the Quality or Cause of the Thing? Arguments of Evaluation

What Actions Should Be Taken? Proposal Arguments



Appealing to Audiences

Emotional Appeals: Pathos

Ethical Appeals: Ethos

Logical Appeals: Logos

Bringing It Home: Kairos and the Rhetorical Situation


2. Arguments Based on Emotion: Pathos

Reading Critically for Pathos

Using Emotions to Build Bridges

Using Emotions to Sustain an Argument

Using Humor

Using Arguments Based on Emotion

3. Arguments Based on Character: Ethos

Thinking Critically about Arguments Based on Character

Establishing Trustworthiness and Credibility

Claiming Authority

Coming Clean about Motives


4. Arguments Based on Facts and Reason: Logos

Thinking Critically about Hard Evidence



Surveys and Polls

Testimonies and Narratives


Using Reason and Common Sense


Providing Logical Structures for Argument




5. Fallacies of Argument

Fallacies of Emotional Argument

Scare Tactics

Either/Or Choices

Slippery Slope

Overly Sentimental Appeals

Bandwagon Appeals

Fallacies of Ethical Argument

Appeals to False Authority


Ad Hominem Arguments

Stacking the Deck

Fallacies of Logical Argument

Hasty Generalization

Faulty Causality

Begging the Question


Non Sequitur


Straw Man

Red Herring

Faulty Analogy


6. Rhetorical Analysis

Composing a Rhetorical Analysis: Reading and Viewing Critically

Understanding the Purpose of Arguments You Are Analyzing

Understanding Who Makes an Argument

Identifying and Appealing to Audiences

Examining Arguments Based on Emotion: Pathos

Examining Arguments Based on Character: Ethos

Examining Arguments Based on Facts and Reason: Logos

Examining the Arrangement and Media of Arguments

Looking at Style

Examining a Rhetorical Analysis

Nicholas Kristof, Fleeing to the Mountains

“When public lands are lost — or mined in ways that scar the landscape — something has been lost forever on our watch. A public good has been privatized, and our descendants have been robbed.”

Cameron Hauer, Appeal, Audience, and Narrative in Kristof’s Wilderness [STUDENT ESSAY]


“To a liberal readership still reeling from the shock of the 2016 election, the invocation of Trump is an invitation for the audience to adopt Kristof’s pro- wilderness platform as a plank of a broader anti- Trump agenda.”


Part 2 Writing Arguments

7. Structuring Arguments

The Classical Oration

Rogerian and Invitational Arguments

Toulmin Argument

Making Claims

Offering Evidence and Good Reasons

Determining Warrants

Offering Evidence: Backing

Using Qualifiers

Understanding Conditions of Rebuttal

Outline of a Toulmin Argument

A Toulmin Analysis

Stephen L. Carter, Offensive Speech Is Free Speech. If Only We’d Listen

“The First Amendment protects not admirable speech or good speech or likeable speech. It protects speech.”


What Toulmin Teaches


8. Arguments of Fact

Understanding Arguments of Fact

Characterizing Factual Arguments

Developing a Factual Argument

Identifying an Issue

Researching Your Hypothesis

Refining Your Claim

Deciding Which Evidence to Use

Presenting Your Evidence

Considering Design and Visuals



Two Sample Factual Arguments

Kate Beispel, The Snacktivities and Musings of a Millennial Foodie [STUDENT ESSAY]

“Where there’s a food line, there’s a Millennial waiting: foodie culture is accessible to anyone who wants to be a part of it.”

Michael Hiltzik, Don’t Believe Facebook: The Demise of the Written Word Is Very Far Off


“Video is a linear medium: You have to allow it to unspool frame by frame to glean what it’s saying. Text can be absorbed in blocks; the eye searches for keywords or names or other pointers such as quotation marks.”

9. Arguments of Definition

Understanding Arguments of Definition

Kinds of Definition

Formal Definitions

Operational Definitions

Definitions by Example

Negative Definitions

Developing a Definitional Argument

Formulating Claims

Crafting Definitions

Matching Claims to Definitions

Considering Design and Visuals



Two Sample Definitional Arguments

Natasha Rodriguez, Who Are You Calling Underprivileged? [STUDENT ESSAY]

“The word made me question how I saw myself


in the world.”

Rob Jenkins, Defining the Relationship

“I used to think the boundaries and expectations were clear on both sides, but that no longer seems to be the case.”

10. Evaluations

Understanding Evaluations

Criteria of Evaluation

Characterizing Evaluation

Quantitative Evaluations

Qualitative Evaluations

Developing an Evaluative Argument

Formulating Criteria

Making Claims

Presenting Evidence

Considering Design and Visuals



Two Sample Evaluations

Jenny Kim, The Toxicity in Learning [STUDENT ESSAY]

“Across all disciplines, there is an unhealthy infatuation with a 4.0 GPA that detracts from


true learning.”

Becca Stanek, I took vitamins every day for a decade. Then I found out they’re useless

“At my appointment last Wednesday, my doctor bluntly informed me that my multivitamins weren’t doing a darn thing for me.”

11. Causal Arguments

Understanding Causal Arguments

Arguments That State a Cause and Then Examine Its Effects

Arguments That State an Effect and Then Trace the Effect Back to Its Causes

Arguments That Move through a Series of Links: A Causes B, Which Leads to C and Perhaps to D

Characterizing Causal Arguments

They Are Often Part of Other Arguments

They Are Almost Always Complex

They Are Often Definition Based

They Usually Yield Probable Rather Than Absolute Conclusions

Developing Causal Arguments

Exploring Possible Claims

Defining the Causal Relationships

Supporting Your Point


Considering Design and Visuals



Two Sample Causal Arguments

Laura Tarrant, Forever Alone (and Perfectly Fine) [STUDENT ESSAY]

“Singleness doesn’t have to be a steppingstone on the way to a relationship, nor does it have to result from some emotional deficiency. Rather, singleness is its own alternative lifestyle.”

Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, America’s Birthrate Is Now a National Emergency

“People’s willingness to have children is not only a sign of confidence in the future, but a sign of cultural health.”

12. Proposals

Understanding and Categorizing Proposals

Characterizing Proposals

Developing Proposals

Defining a Need or Problem

Making a Strong and Clear Claim

Showing That the Proposal Addresses the Need or Problem

Showing That the Proposal Is Feasible


Considering Design and Visuals



Two Sample Proposals

Caleb Wong, Addiction to Social Media: How to Overcome It [STUDENT ESSAY]

“Like tooth-brushing and nail-biting, using social media regularly is a habit.”

Lenore Skenazy, My Free-Range Parenting Manifesto

“We are crippling kids by convincing them they can’t solve any issues on their own.”

Part 3 Style and Presentation in Arguments

13. Style in Arguments

Style and Word Choice


Sentence Structure and Argument

Punctuation and Argument

Special Effects: Figurative Language




14. Visual Rhetoric


The Power of Visual Arguments

Using Visuals in Your Own Arguments

Using Images and Visual Design to Create Pathos

Using Images to Establish Ethos

Using Visual Images to Support Logos

15. Presenting Arguments

Class and Public Discussions


Preparing a Presentation

Assess the Rhetorical Situation

Nail Down the Specific Details

Fashion a Script Designed to Be Heard by an Audience

Choose Media to Fit Your Subject

Deliver a Good Show

A Note about Webcasts: Live Presentations over the Web

16. Multimodal Arguments

Old Media Transformed by New Media

New Content in New Media

New Audiences in New Media

Analyzing Multimodal Arguments

Making Multimodal Arguments

Web Sites

Videos and Video Essays




Social Media



A Final Note on Time

Part 4 Research and Arguments

17. Academic Arguments

Understanding What Academic Argument Is

Conventions in Academic Argument Are Not Static

Developing an Academic Argument

Two Sample Academic Arguments

Charlotte Geaghan-Breiner, Where the Wild Things Should Be: Healing Nature Deficit Disorder through the Schoolyard [STUDENT ESSAY]

“The most practical solution to this staggering rift between children and nature involves the schoolyard.”

Sidra Montgomery, The Emotion Work of “Thank You for Your Service”

“The well-meaning intent behind TYFYS isn’t always received by post-9/11 veterans in the same way.”


18. Finding Evidence

Considering the Rhetorical Situation


Searching Effectively


Collecting Data on Your Own

19. Evaluating Sources

Assessing Print Sources

Assessing Electronic Sources

Practicing Crap Detection

Assessing Field Research

20. Using Sources

Practicing Infotention

Building a Critical Mass

Synthesizing Information

Paraphrasing Sources You Will Use Extensively

Summarizing Sources

Using Quotations Selectively and Strategically

Framing Materials You Borrow with Signal Words and Introductions

Using Sources to Clarify and Support Your Own Argument

Avoiding “Patchwriting”

21. Plagiarism and Academic Integrity

Giving Credit


Getting Permission for and Using Copyrighted Internet Sources

Acknowledging Your Sources Accurately and Appropriately

Acknowledging Collaboration

22. Documenting Sources

MLA Style

In-Text Citations

Explanatory and Bibliographic Notes

List of Works Cited

Sample First Page for an Essay in MLA Style

Sample List of Works Cited for an Essay in MLA Style

APA Style

In-Text Citations

Content Notes

List of References

Sample Title Page for an Essay in APA Style

Sample First Text Page for an Essay in APA Style

Sample References List for an Essay in APA Style

Part 5 Arguments

23. How Does Popular Culture Stereotype You?

Alli Joseph, With Disney’s Moana, Hollywood Almost Gets It Right: Indigenous People Weigh In [WEB ARTICLE]


“But the film’s achievements are not enough for some to cite progress toward more accurate, less- stereotypical portrayal of other cultures in film.”

D.K., Shooting Guns: It’s Rather Fun, Actually [MAGAZINE ARTICLE]

“For the majority of gun owners, being told that their harmless hobby is somehow responsible for the deaths of other people must be deeply unpleasant.”

Nicole Pasulka, How a Bible-Belt Evangelical Church Embraced Gay Rights [WEB ARTICLE]

“Despite some opposition from within the congregation, this Bible Belt church is now making a religious argument for gay rights.”

C. Richard King, Redskins: Insult and Brand [BOOK EXCERPT]

“As much a weapon as a word, then, it injures and excludes, denying history and humanity.”

Melinda C. R. Burgess, et al., Playing with Prejudice: The Prevalence and Consequences of Racial Stereotypes in Video Games [JOURNAL ARTICLE]

“[I]magery that associates African American men


with the negative stereotypes of aggression, hostility, and criminality conditions viewers to associate this constellation of negativity with African American men in general.”

MAKING A VISUAL ARGUMENT: Sonny Assu, Breakfast Series [ARTWORK]

Sara Morrison, Covering the Transgender Community: How Newsrooms Are Moving Beyond the “Coming Out” Story to Report Crucial Transgender Issues [REPORT]

“How do journalists cover a community, which has been for so long maligned and voiceless, in ways that are considerate of that community’s needs as well as those of readers, some of whom need basic concepts explained?”

24. How Does What We Eat Define Who We Are?

Sophie Egan, The American Food Psyche [BOOK EXCERPT]

“Korean tacos and naan pizza and California rolls. Some might consider these horrors. Sullied versions of the true cultural entities. But not us. In America, collisions are commendable.”

MAKING A VISUAL ARGUMENT: United States Department of Agriculture, How Do Your Eating Habits Differ from Your Grandparents’? [GRAPH]


Rob Greenfield, An Argument against Veganism . . .  from a Vegan [BLOG POST]

“There are cultures of people who eat meat and animal products in a manner that causes less harm to earth and animals than some vegan diets do.”

Jess Kapadia, I Still Don’t Understand the Cultural Appropriation of Food [WEB ARTICLE]

“I’d venture to say that this many years into the age of pop food media and recipe sharing, no food belongs to anyone anymore.”

Briahna Joy Gray, The Question of Cultural Appropriation [MAGAZINE ARTICLE]

“I think when we talk about appropriation, we’re really talking about two separate issues: first, an issue of cultural exploitation, and second, an issue of cultural disrespect.”

James Dubick, Brandon Mathews, and Clare Cady, Hunger on Campus: The Challenge of Food Insecurity for College Students [REPORT]

“One in five students surveyed had the very lowest levels of food security. Thirteen percent were homeless.”


25. How Does Language Influence Our World?

Ernie Smith, They Should Stop: In Defense of the Singular They [BLOG POST]

“It may be the most controversial word use in the English language — because it highlights a hole in the language where a better-fitting word should go.”

John McWhorter, Thick of Tongue [WEB ARTICLE]

“I am not referring to black slang. Plenty of black people use little street slang and yet still have a black sound. The question is why you could tell most black people were black if they read you a shopping list over the phone.”

Japanese American Citizens League, from The Power of Words [HANDBOOK]

“During WWII, the U.S. government used euphemistic language to control public perceptions about the forced removal of Japanese American citizens from their West Coast homes to desolate American concentration camps further inland.”

MAKING A VISUAL ARGUMENT: Census Data, English and Languages other Than English in the United States [MAPS AND CHART]

Roxane Gay, The Careless Language of Sexual Violence [BOOK EXCERPT]


“It was an eleven-year-old girl whose body was ripped apart, not a town. It was an eleven-year-old girl whose life was ripped apart, not the lives of the men who raped her.”

Jorge Encinas, How Latino Players Are Helping Major League Baseball Learn Spanish [BLOG POST]

“Spanish-speaking fans, millions of whom watch Spanish-language broadcasts of baseball games, will have little idea of the lingering challenge some Latino players in the States have long faced.”

26. Has the Internet Destroyed Privacy?

Lindsay McKenzie, Getting Personal about Cybersecurity [WEB ARTICLE]

“Today’s students may be digital natives, but that doesn’t mean institutions can count on them to protect themselves from cyberattacks.”


Brian Crane, Oh, My Gosh! When Did Facebook Start with Mind Infiltration?

Chris Slane, Window on the Internet

Chris Wildt, Impressive Résumé …

Mike Smith, I Agree with Apple . . .

J. D. Crowe, Congress Kills Internet Privacy


Lauren Salm, 70 Percent of Employers Are Snooping Candidates’ Social Media Profiles [WEB ARTICLE]

“The bottom line? Think before you post, because there’s always someone watching.”

Deanna Hartley, Creative Ways to Get Noticed by Employers on Social Media [WEB ARTICLE]

“[S]ocial media could work in your favor if you’re looking for a job—if you do it right.”

Lauren Carroll, Congress Let Internet Providers “Spy On” Your Underwear Purchases, Advocacy Group Says [WEB ARTICLE]

“Beyond shopping habits, ISPs and advertisers can glean more significant personal information about their customers from Internet browsing patterns.”

Franklin Foer, from World without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech [BOOK EXCERPT]

“Data provides an X-ray of the soul. Companies turn that photograph of the inner self into a commodity to be traded on a market, bought and sold without our knowledge.”

Amanda Hess, How Privacy Became a Commodity for the Rich and Powerful [WEB ARTICLE]


“We’ve come to understand that privacy is the currency of our online lives, paying for petty conveniences with bits of personal information.”

27. How Free Should Campus Speech Be?

John Palfrey, Safe Spaces, Brave Spaces [BOOK EXCERPT]

“While diversity and free expression are too often pitted against one another as competing values, they are more compatible than they are opposing.”

Gallup/Knight Foundation, Free Speech on Campus: What Students Think about First Amendment Issues [REPORT]

“College students generally endorse First Amendment ideals in the abstract. The vast majority say free speech is important to democracy and favor an open learning environment that promotes the airing of a wide variety of ideas.”

Ben Schwartz, Shutting Up [WEB ARTICLE]

“Comedy isn’t supposed to be anything, except what the comedian tries to make it—harmless, mean, political, dirty, dumb.”

MAKING A VISUAL ARGUMENT: Racial Microaggressions

Turner Consulting Group, Racial Microaggressions



Alexandra Dal, Questions [CARTOON]

Scott O. Lilienfeld, Why a Moratorium on Microaggressions Is Needed [SCHOLARLY ARTICLE]

“Distributing lists of ‘forbidden’ phrases to campus administrators or faculty members or mandating microaggression training for employees are unlikely to be helpful.”

Sarah Brown, Activist Athletes [WEB ARTICLE]

“Since athletes are at the mercy of their coaches in terms of playing time and scholarships, coaches and team managers exercise a great deal of influence over their players’ choices.”

Catherine Nolan-Ferrell, Balancing Classroom Civility and Free Speech [MAGAZINE ARTICLE]

“I cannot claim complete neutrality about the subject matter, but I do promise students that I will discuss multiple perspectives and explain how and why I reached my point of view.”



Readings by Type of Argument




CHAPTER 1 Understanding Arguments and Reading Them Critically

On October 15, 2017, actor and activist Alyssa Milano took to Twitter to issue a call to action:

Milano was joining the conversation surrounding a spate of revelations about very high-profile and powerful men accused of sexual


harassment: Bill Cosby, Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, and Harvey Weinstein. Milano’s tweet argues for standing up and speaking out—in big numbers—and her message certainly hit a nerve: within 24 hours, 4.7 million people around the world had joined the “me too” conversation, with over 12 million posts and comments. Some of these comments pointed out that the “me too” movement is actually more than ten years old: it began with activist Tarana Burke, who was directing a Girls for Gender Equity program in Brooklyn, aimed at giving voice to young women of color. As Burke told CNN after Milano’s tweet went viral: “It’s not about a viral campaign for me. It’s about a movement.”

Burke’s reaction to the 2017 meme makes an important point, one that was echoed in some of the responses Milano received and further elaborated by Jessi Hempel, the editorial director of Backchannel, in “The Problem with #metoo and Viral Outrage.” Hempel says that “on its surface,” #metoo has what looks to be the makings of an “earnest and effective social movement.” But like Burke, Hempel wonders whether #metoo will actually have the power and longevity of a true social movement. She’s concerned that while millions of people are weighing in, at last, on a long-ignored issue, the campaign may not culminate in real change:

In truth, however, #MeToo is a too-perfect meme. It harnesses social media’s mechanisms to drive users (that’s you and me) into escalating states of outrage while exhausting us to the point where we cannot meaningfully act.

Hempel cites extensive research by Yale professor Molly Crockett that


suggests that “digital technologies may be transforming the way we experience outrage, and limiting how much we can actually change social realities.” In other words, expressing outrage online lets us talk the talk but not walk the walk of actual change.

In spite of these caveats, the work begun by Tarana Burke over a decade ago and given new urgency by Alyssa Milano has led to a series of high-profile firings, and some criminal convictions, in many sectors of society, from the Hollywood film industry (Weinstein’s company had to declare bankruptcy) to New York’s cultural scene (the Metropolitan Opera fired its conductor, James Levine) to Congress (Senator Al Franken was forced to resign his seat) to the world of sports (Olympics team doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison for assaulting as many as 160 women athletes). In short, it now looks as though #metoo does constitute a genuine movement that will continue to lead to actual, concrete changes in cultural attitudes and practices. Certainly, the argument over its effectiveness and reach will continue, much of it playing out on social media platforms.

As this example shows, arguments on social media occur on crowded, two-way channels, with claims and counterclaims whizzing by, fast and furious. Such tools reach audiences (like the 4.7 million who initially responded to #metoo) and they also create them, offering an innovative way to make and share arguments. Just as importantly, anyone, anywhere, with access to a phone, tablet, or other electronic device, can launch arguments that circle the globe in seconds. Social networking and digital tools are increasingly available to all—for


better or for worse, as shown by the recent example of Facebook’s allowing data from 50 million users to be used for political purposes.


Everything Is an Argument As you know from your own experiences with social media, arguments are all around us, in every medium, in every genre, in everything we do. There may be an argument on the T-shirt you put on in the morning, in the sports column you read on the bus, in the prayers you utter before an exam, in the off-the-cuff political remarks of a teacher lecturing, on the bumper sticker on the car in front of you, in the assurances of a health center nurse that “This won’t hurt one bit.”

The clothes you wear, the foods you eat, and the groups you join make nuanced, sometimes unspoken assertions about who you are and what you value. So an argument can be any text—written, spoken, aural, or visual—that expresses a point of view. In fact, some theorists claim that language is inherently persuasive. When you say, “Hi, how’s it going?” in one sense you’re arguing that your hello deserves a response. Even humor makes an argument when it causes readers to recognize—through bursts of laughter or just a faint smile—how things are and how they might be different.

More obvious as arguments are those that make direct claims based on or drawn from evidence. Such writing often moves readers to recognize problems and to consider solutions. Persuasion of this kind is usually easy to recognize:

The National Minimum Drinking Age Act, passed by Congress [in 1984], is a gross violation of civil liberties and must be repealed. It is absurd and unjust that young Americans can vote, marry, enter contracts, and serve in the


military at 18 but cannot buy an alcoholic drink in a bar or restaurant.

—Camille Paglia, “The Drinking Age Is Past Its Prime”

We will become a society of a million pictures without much memory, a society that looks forward every second to an immediate replication of what it has just done, but one that does not sustain the difficult labor of transmitting culture from one generation to the next.

—Christine Rosen, “The Image Culture”

RESPOND● Can an argument really be any text that expresses a point of view?

What kinds of arguments—if any—might be made by the following


a Golden State Warriors cap

Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 34

the “explicit lyrics” label on a best-selling rap CD

the health warnings on a package of cigarettes

a Tesla Model 3 electric car

a pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses


Why Read Arguments Critically and Rhetorically? More than two millennia ago, Aristotle told students that they needed to know and understand and use the arts of rhetoric for two major reasons: to be able to get their ideas across effectively and persuasively and to protect themselves from being manipulated by others. Today, we need these abilities more than ever before: as we are inundated with “alternative facts,” “fake news,” mis- and disinformation, and often even outright lies, the ability to read between the lines, to become fact- checkers, to practice what media critic Howard Rheingold calls “crap detection” (see “Practicing Crap Detection” in Chapter 19), and to read with careful attention are now survival skills.

This need is so acute that new courses are springing up on college


campuses, such as one at the University of Washington named (provocatively) “Calling Bullshit,” which Professors Carl Bergstrom and Jevin West define as “language, statistical figures, graphics, and other forms of presentation intended to persuade by impressing and overwhelming a reader or listener with a blatant disregard for truth and logical coherence.” (Search for “The Fine Art of Sniffing Out Crappy Science” on the Web.) These professors are particularly interested in the use of statistics and visual representation of data to misinform or confuse, and in showing how “big data” especially can often obscure rather than reveal valid claims, although they acknowledge the power of verbal misinformation as well.

You can practice self-defense against such misrepresentation by following some sound advice:

Pay attention, close attention, to what you are reading or viewing. While it’s tempting to skim, avoid the temptation, especially when the stakes are high. Keep focused on the text at hand, with your critical antenna up! Keep an eye out for “click bait,” those subject lines or headings that scream “read me, read me” but usually lead to little information. Be skeptical. Check the author, publisher, sources: how reliable are they? Look for unstated assumptions behind claims—and question them. Distinguish between facts that have verifiable support and claims and those which may or may not be completely empty. Learn to triangulate: don’t take the word of a single source but look for corroboration from other reliable sources.


Become a fact checker! Get familiar with nonpartisan fact- checkers like Politifact,, the Sunlight Foundation, and

You will find additional information about reading attentively and critically throughout this book, especially in Chapters 6 and 19.

Why Listen to Arguments Rhetorically and Respectfully? Rhetorician Krista Ratcliffe recommends that we all learn to listen rhetorically, which she defines as “a stance of openness” you can take in relation to any person, text, or culture. Taking such a stance is not easy, especially when emotions and disagreements run high, but doing so is a necessary step in understanding where other people are coming from and in acknowledging that our own stances are deeply influenced by forces we may not even be aware of. Even when we stand on the shoulders of giants, our view is limited and partial, and it’s good to remember that this maxim is true for everyone.

Amid the extreme divisions in the United States today, amid the charges and countercharges, the ongoing attacks of one group on another, it’s especially important to learn to listen to others, even others with whom we drastically disagree. Scholars and pundits alike have written about the “echo chambers” we often inhabit, especially online, where we hear only from people who think as we do, act as we act, believe as we believe. Such echo chambers are dangerous to a democracy. As a result, some are advocating for rhetorical listening. Oprah Winfrey, for example, brought together a group of women, half of whom supported Trump and half of whom supported Clinton, over “croissants and great jam.” At first no one wanted to participate, but once Winfrey got them together and they started listening to one


another’s stories, the women began to find small patches of common ground. Listening openly and respectfully was the key. So it is with the website and app “Hi from the Other Side,” where people can sign up to be paired with someone on another side of an issue, get guidance on how to begin a conversation, and eventually meet to pursue common ground and common interests (see for more information).

You can begin to practice rhetorical listening as you get to know people who differ from you on major issues, listening to their views carefully and respectfully, asking them for that same respect, and beginning to search for some common ground, no matter how small. Arguments are never won by going nowhere except “Yes I can”/“No you can’t” over and over again, yet that’s the way many arguments are conducted today. Learning to listen rhetorically and beginning to find some small commonality is usually a better way to argue constructively than

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