What we have to work with:
- Criteria for Evaluations–Practical, Aesthetic, Ethical
- Templates for constructing an argument
- e.g. “X is (not) a good Y because it (fails to) meet(s) criteria P, A, E.”
- Evaluation arguments are focused on judgments (this is how you should feel about something). Evaluations focus on whether or not a particular thing “is” problematic (or good or bad) and often what positive or negative consequences occur from this phenomena.
- Evaluation arguments usually proceed through a strategy of matching components of the evaluated item to specific criteria. Typically, we put evaluative critieria into one of three categories:
- Ethical–“right or wrong” “moral” “proper”
- Aesthetic–“appealing to the senses” “artistic” “captures the spirit”
- Practical–“beneficial” “economical” “realistic”
Evaluation Arguments must be made using practical, ethical or aesthetic criteria. In other words, it follows the structure “X is (not) a good Y because it (fails to) meet(s) criteria A, E, P.” Otherwise, it’s simply a statement of your opinion with no sound reasoning behind it such as…
- Pick an item to be evaluated
- Find out the stakes involved in the claim (is this evaluation controversial and/or interesting to others? Who would be opposed to this evaluation and why?)
- Develop criteria for evaluating that item (what makes it good or bad? which are most important? which are obvious and which ones do you have to argue for? Which are most likely to impact your audience?)
Google Maps is the best mapping program because it is easy to use, it is accurate, and it provides entertaining and educational features such as Google Earth.
Recently, NASA decided to end the space shuttle program. However, NASA will continue to send humans into space and are researching new vehicles for the purpose. Since the beginning of the space program, the issue of whether or not manned space flight is a necessary risk has been a guiding question for NASA as well as its detractors. How can we evaluate whether or not this is a good policy?
- Space travel enhances scientific knowledge and many technological benefits have resulted from the research done in this objective. (Pro)
- We can more cheaply send robots instead of humans. (Con)
- Space travel is essential to the way we understand ourselves as humans; US astronauts in space is an indelible American cultural image; popular culture (e.g. MTV) has adopted space pioneers as heroes. (Pro)
- The very public loss of life due to space disasters can be harmful to our national psyche. (Con)
- Much of space exploration undertaken benefits, directly, human life on earth. (Pro)
- The huge expenditure required for human space travel would be better used elsewhere. Human life is endangered by space travel. (Con)
Often, as in the space travel example above, there will be both positive and negative conclusions based on your criteria. After all, if there were *only* good or *only* bad consequences from an action, we probably wouldn’t have to bother doing a formal evaluation. Therefore, we need to analyze both sides of any topic.
Once you have evaluated a situation or problem and discussed the ramification of the issue for stakeholders, you are ready to move on and propose a solution.
Much like evaluations, proposals are created based on specific criteria and follow a basic structure responding to your claim that “We should (should not) do X.” Proposals are typically arranged in a three part structure:
1. Convincing the audience that a problem exists
e.g. “Economic decline has demoralized the residents of Detroit.”
2. Showing the particulars of your proposal (your solution to the problem)
e.g. “Therefore, we should build a statue of RoboCop…”
3. Justifying why your proposal should be enacted (that your proposal is feasible and will have positive outcomes).
e.g. “…which can be financed by private donations. This should be done because it will spur tourist interest in the city as well as honor Detroit’s emerging role in film culture.”
Is the real challenge convincing your audience that a problem exists or is it convincing them of a viable solution to a problem they already know exists?
- Prioritizing the Problem: Depending on the particulars of your topic, one or more of these items may be prioritized over the others. For instance, if you are proposing a fairly straightforward change that requires little detail – say, convincing an audience to ban stem cell research – you might spend the majority of its times on item one (convincing the audience that stem cell research is a problem), with items two (it should be banned entirely in the US) and three (negative consequences if the ban is not enacted) relegated to the final few paragraphs.
- Prioritizing the Solution: Conversely, often your proposal might be addressing what the majority (if not all) of your audience will agree is a problem; in this case, the challenge is providing a viable solution (if the finding the solution is not a problem, presumably the problem would have already been solved). For instance, most WSU students would agree that parking on campus is a problem; however, providing a feasible solution to this problem is difficult.
- Introduction with a nice hook enticing the reader. Introduction should state:
- If you choose to write to a specific audience, say, legislature, you must state the nature of the audience
- Issue/problem at hand
- Your thesis as the form of a proposal responding to that issue. “We should (not) do X.”
- The Stakes–Convincing the audience a problem exists. In this section, you will evaluate the issue.
- What is the problem? Use Practical, Ethical, or Aesthetic criteria to describe the issue
- What are the negative consequences?
- What is the extent of the problem?
- Define any terms that arise which may be controversial.
- Who are the stakeholders? Who is affected? Who stands to be affected next?
- Is there an end/relief in sight?
- The particulars of your proposal. In this section, you may have to define terms or concepts with which your audience may not be familiar. All aspects of your proposal needs to be discussed in detail and may include the following:
- What is required to enact your proposal? (a new law, money, willingness to change, etc.)
- Feasibility of your solution. Much like Practical Criteria of Evaluations
- Positive benefits of your solution discussed using Practical, Ethical, or Aesthetic criteria
- Justification of your solution. Any one or all of the following may apply. Your task is to discuss them and show why your proposal is superior.
- Counterarguments may arise as to whether or not your issue is even a problem.
- Your solution may be controversial to enact.
- It may have unintended negative effects.
- Alternative solutions may have been suggested.
- Conclusion. Like all good conclusions, wrap up the paper. Restate (not word-for-word) the issue and proposal. Make a final push to persuade.
Homework: Read your research. Begin drafting sections of the essay. Rough Draft in class by Tuesday, November 13.
Write: On your blogs, please post by Thursday, 11/6, a response (of no more than 300 words) to the following:
How do you view yourself as a researcher? How has this changed over the semester? What do you view as your role within your group? How is this beneficial to the group as a whole? How have your experiences with collaborative writing in this class differ from other experiences you may have had working with a group?