In most scenarios people tend to associate the term ‘argument’ with opposing opinions on matters of discussions. In addition, this term literally suggests a struggle or battle between two opposing sides seeking to convince an audience that their personal argument is legit in comparison to the opponent’s one on the matter. In every instance, arguments and their presentation are formed based on persuasion. For a certain writer to deliver a message in the work and derive sympathy from the readers, it is necessary that he/she masters the art of persuasion to succeed. In critical thinking, arguments define the procedures and strategies that writers employ in order to persuade readers to consider their work credible. The language writers utilize is a determining factor whether readers will consent with the argument or not. Commercial advertisements on radio and television are already familiar with the art of persuasion and employ this technique in introducing and selling new products and services to the potential target market and customers. Consequently, people end up purchasing goods without realizing the technique behind the process. The arguments portrayed in television advertisements are utterly persuasive.
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Interestingly, the art of formulating an effective and convincing argument originated within ancient Greek education and mythology. For any argument to qualify as persuasive, it has to relate not only emotionally, but also logically and morally to the target audience. According to Aristotle’s Poetics, a persuasive argument is comprised of such key parts: ethos, logos and pathos. These parts define the types of appeals that form rhetorical appeal or persuasive arguments. Rhetoric refers to the use of knowledge, facts and logic to convince a crowd that opinions created on a matter are entirely true. The second rhetorical appeal, ethos, focuses on the moral values of an audience in order to convince them to a critical judgment on a certain issue. The third rhetorical appeal, pathos, applies emotions, which are considered to be an efficient tool of persuasion. However, every form of rhetoric requires realistic evidence to support the argument. Logical fallacies define this extra information required. The argument, presented by John Derbyshire, addresses the issues of test scores in American public schools appraisal. The author strongly feels that public schools are already performing well as per international standards. The writer also focuses on the ways to handle adolescents uninterested in education. He feels that combining dedicated students with the uninterested lot is a grave mistake. John Derbyshire argues that in order to enforce discipline in public schools there should be guidelines that protect bright students from unruly ones.
In his argument, John Derbyshire applies all the three rhetorical techniques in order to allure the readers. This argument focuses on the academic performance of public schools in the United States. To attest that the public schools are already doing well, the writer employs facts and events. In his argument, readers identify actual figures and dates of events that support his opinion. John Derbyshire tries to convince his readers that he is rather proficient in educational matters. Moreover, John Derbyshire poses rhetorical questions to persuade the reader to take his side in the subject matter. The writer does not provide direct answers for readers in his argument; rather he lets the readers make their own decisions. The writer comes close to providing an answer or solution but stops immediately. Thus, he allows his readers to synthesize the provided information and attain a final verdict. Therefore, it is correct to state that Derbyshire applies ethos (one of the rhetoric techniques) to appeal to his readers. In the cause of his argument, John Derbyshire highlights the consequences of mixing hardworking students with noncommittal students. Moreover, the highlighted effects are all negative. His target audience consists of parents interested in the education system. The writer applies pathos in emotionally convincing parents that students, who want to study, should not interact with bright and dedicated ones. He uses the example of his friend, a biology teacher, who quit his job because of the unruly behavior of some students, and how his absence affected bright students. This example evokes all kinds of emotions from the readers.
Derbyshire applies different logical fallacies in his argument to support his point of view. Guilt by association fallacy is evident in this argument. This fallacy is exceptionally strong and stands out from the rest of the logical fallacies in the essay. The writer utilizes actual dates and figures to proof that Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s efforts to improve test scores in public schools were not effective. He uses this fallacy to convince parents that politicians lack the expertise in handling educational matters. Further, through this fallacy, the readers are persuaded that the educational system in America surpasses the international standards. In addition, the writer proves that acts of dishing out money, conducted by politicians like Bloomberg, have no profound effect on the quality of education. The dates and figures presented evidently link the mayor to the educational projects’ failures, mentioned in the essay.
Having read this argument I must acknowledge that it utterly convinces me that the education system in the USA is among the best ones in the world. I also concur with the information the writer provides concerning adolescents not interested in the learning process. However, I believe that segregation of bright students from the educationally challenged ones does not solve the crux but deteriorates it. I recommend that public schools exercise strict disciplinary measures in order to handle unruliness among students. In addition, teachers and parents should shift their focus from books solely to skills and talents that students possess and acquire.
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