In the post below, I summarized typical devices of pseudo-argumentation.
The most effective model of proper argumentation – especially for academic purposes – was suggested by Stephen Toulmin.
According to (t)his model of argumentation, Toulmin argues that a good argument needs good justification for a claim. In “The Uses of Argument” (first edition came out in 1958), Toulmin suggests the following components for analyzing arguments:
- Claim (thesis statement)
- Grounds (facts, evidence, data that answer the question “why?”)
- Warrant (implicit connection between the claim and the ground, or why the evidence supports the claim)
- Backing (extra proof)
- Rebuttal/Reservation (counter-arguments and counter-examples)
- Qualifier (linguistic devices conveying various degrees of certainty and possibility)
According to Bill Frazer (see his paper The New Rhetoric: How Discourse Analysis Can Help Translators), the most common argument pattern in English is BPSE:
BACKGROUND – PROBLEM – SOLUTION – EVALUATION
The signposting words like «however», «unless» mark the turning point between the statement of the problem and the discussion of the solution.
Other typical patterns of argument are:
- describing a situation and evaluating it,
- stating a position and giving the reasons to back it up,
- summarizing a contrary position in order to refute it,
- denying something that has been said elsewhere,
- correcting something that has been said elsewhere, etc.
For that matter, let us also emphasize another relevant, and no less important issue, that is, the order of arguments. It was Hermann Ebbinghaus who first discovered the so-called Serial Position Effect. In writing, that means putting your weakest arguments in the middle, your strongest arguments in the start, and the strongest one(s) – in the end, though ideally all arguments should be well-supported.