The final exam will consist of two essays that you will write in response to arguments. I will choose one of the arguments, and you will choose one other from the possibilities listed below.
You will be asked to answer only one question about each argument: is the argument that you are analyzing a “good” one? There is no “correct” number of analytical tools you must use or one “correct” answer to this question. You will be graded on your ability to think critically, and to present an analysis that exemplifies the rules of rhetoric by which you are judging another’s work. Your grade will also be influenced by the completeness of your analysis and the clarity of your argument.
In your responses, you should consider any and all of the tools of rhetorical analysis that we have discussed this term, including: the characteristics of critical thought; barriers to critical thinking; the definitions of statements and argument; premises and conclusions; the Premise of Rational Acceptance; fallacies; deductive argument patterns, especially syllogisms; deductive validity and soundness; inductive argument patterns and inductive generalizations; inductive strength and cogency; statistical sampling; probability; language, especially the role of emotive language, common cause of misunderstanding, and definitions; general and verbal disputes; Venn diagrams; argument diagramming; political rhetoric and the general problems of analyzing it; Aristotle’s methods of persuasion, including ethos, logos, and pathos; author intent, textual intent, and audience awareness; the rhetoric of science and pseudoscience. Use only the tools that are applicable, and only the ones that further your analysis.
“Freedom or Death,” by Emmeline Pankhurst
Abraham Lincoln, First Debate with Stephen A. Douglas at Ottawa, Illinois, August 21, 1858 (excerpt)
A commencement address by David Foster Wallace, from “More Intelligent Life”