Argument as Inquiry: Part I

“Is it possible in America today to convince anyone of anything he [or she] doesn’t already believe?”

“How can arguers participate in a ‘mingling of the minds’ and use argument productively to seek answers to problems?”

Oral, visual, print, hypertext arguments = antagonistic sound bites or talking points
To position ourselves as inquirers as well as persuaders:
  • engage thoughtfully with alternate points of view
  • truly listen to other perspectives
  • examine own values and assumptions
  • PERHAPS change views
Thinker’s goal:
  • live with questions
  • acknowledge uncertainty and complexity
  • resist settling for simple or quick answers

Finding Issues to Explore
  • curiosity
  • confusion
  • concern

Brainstorm (pg. 26)
Inventory of communities to which you belong

Controversy within those communities

Narrow list of problematic issues

List of related issues

Exploring Ideas by Freewriting—writing on issue nonstop (pg. 29)
(remember “relax, relax, relax” and “I’m stuck”)

Exploring Ideas by Idea Mapping (pg. 29)
Place “trigger idea” in center of circle and ideas in branches and subbranches

Believing and Doubting Game (pg. 30)
First, write as if you are wholly sympathetic to the idea.
Suspend disbelief
Find/list reasons to believe

Then, write as a judgmental or critical reading.
Find best counterexamples and inconsistencies

Consider the Rhetorical Context
Evaluate the genre and source—do the writers/speakers/publishers have a hidden or overt agenda?
(consult chart on pg. 33)