Convincing With Evidence, Logic and Principles

Argumentation is usually associated with debate. Using argumentation in public speaking does not require being adversarial. If you use it effectively you can enhance the experience for the listener.

    Your first thought might be to avoid it, especially when trying to persuade. Avoiding arguing is good. The kind of argument being discussed here is not bickering, being obnoxious or even debate. Do not think of it as attacking the opposing point of view.

    Yes, arguing is not just an alternative life style we explored with our parents when we were in our teens. When refined into a form of reasoning, it has a place in society and in our lives. It need not be personal. It attains its highest intention when it opens minds and allows for the exploration of thought.

    "It is clear that the individual who persecutes a man, his brother, because he is not of the same opinion, is a monster.
    ― Voltaire

    In its simplest form, it is putting forth reasons for or against a point of view. It can involve deductive reasoning, presentation and elaboration.

    It starts with a proposition, the expression of a point of view on a subject. Then supporting evidence is added and principles to support the proposition are used. Follow through with reasoning on the matter, applying inductions and deductions to the proposed thought.

    An informative speech is presented as information or fact even though it is given as one person’s interpretation of that information. Argumentation requires calling into question that interpretation and coming to its defense, refuting it, or offering a new view point.

Why Use Argumentation

    Some subjects by their nature will have proponents on one side or the other feel there is a lack of empirical evidence. To come to a conclusion would be difficult because these issues are moral, scientific, religious, or too deep to be answered by scientific method alone. To address an audience in these instances will require using argumentation.

Argumentation will employ creating credible arguments and identifying faulty reasoning’s often times using informal logic.

    Inductive and deductive reasoning’s may also need to be used. Where possible, evidence or the lack of would also be involved.

    Facts alone will not always win an argument. Take for example the use of the scientific method as empirical evidence. The evolution theory fails the scientific method and yet it is preached with more religious fervor than the best televangelist.

    To be fair, creationists have done equal harm to their cause by relying on blind faith or different types of faulty reasoning.

    OK, depending on which side you’re on, you will want to know my basis for this statement. I have two questions.

    For evolutionists: Why are the missing links still missing? Why is there a call to remove Lucy from the Human family tree by top scientists? What went wrong with Ida?

    For Creationists: How can the earth be seven days old and evidence shows it is millions of years old and scientific models show its construct took millenniums?

    The purpose of this statement is not to open a debate on the subject of evolution or creationism. This is to show how empirical evidence (which neither group has done will with) will not necessarily win an argument. Both sides believe because they want to believe.

    So where do you start in using argumentation?

Start with a Claim or Thesis Statement

    Your speech needs to be on purpose. What do you want the audience to walk away with? What is your Most Wanted Response? Typically the narrower and more tightly focused the theme the better. So start with a focused claim or thesis statement.

    For instance, to say evolution is wrong and creationism is right or visa-versa is so broad that it will amount to trying to throw a bag of stinky garbage into the opposing camps.

    However if you were to argue in a reasoning manner on a particular aspect of a belief, you might get a chance to come back for further discussion. Avoid the attack mentality.

    As a general rule: Do not attack the closest and most cherished beliefs of those you want to persuade. This would be like telling your daughter not to love some guy she is already involved with. No matter how sleazy you think he is (and or he may actually be), she will see him differently.

    Using argumentation is not arguing and proposing an argument is not creating a fight, so long as you do not attack their opinion.

    Their opinion is something they possess and cherish. Rather, demonstrate why you find it difficult accept their opinion based on your evidence or logic. No emotions. Just sound reasons.

    Also do not attack generalities. It would be like standing up wind and trying to bombard the opponents of your view with pepper spray in their eyes and then saying, can’t you see? They will probably close their eyes before any damage can be done and they will stay closed until the danger is past or you are done talking.

    Kindly and respectfully present your side using I statements. Using argumentation as a tool to reason with an audience will have the effect of softening other side’s view of the issue.

    Next acknowledge the reasons for differing opinions. Acknowledgment of these will help lay a foundation for the argument you will be presenting.

Why a Difference of Opinion

    To maintain reasonableness within a speech when using argumentation requires recognizing the three reasons for differing opinion. Knowledge of these will help lay a foundation for the arguments.

    • The different sides of the proposition have had different experiences.
    • They have had the same experiences drawing different conclusions from them.
    • They look to a different authority or source as a basis for forming an opinion.

    Any one single difference of opinion can involve one or all three of these reasons.

    Take for instance the doctor patient relationship. As a nurse, I have worked with some of the most brilliant, compassionate, and effective practitioners you could hope to meet.

    My experience is different than the person who had one life changing experience with a doctor. Their negative view of all doctors will be based on that one. My positive view of the majority of doctors will be based on the many I have known and worked by their sides.

    Consider any outcome that a patient may experience. Having seen a number of outcomes by different doctors, I may look at an outcome as being better than most. The patient may have had worse than expected outcome. Same experience from two different perspectives and two different conclusions from it.

    As to authority, I personally base my beliefs on evidence based medicine and evidence based nursing.

    For example the thousands of studies that show that patients who avoid blood transfusions and if they are properly treated with Bloodless Medicine and Surgery have lower morbidity and mortality rates than those who get blood.

    Having been a part of treating thousand of patients, some with blood counts as low as Hgb 2.8 (around 14 is normal) and not one has died, I have both anecdotal and empirical evidence to base my arguments on. As a matter of fact, you will not find one high level study that proves that blood transfusions save lives from 1905 to the present.

    Yet, many doctors and nurses who say, 'I don’t believe in it.' As ludicrous as it sounds to not believe in scientific evidence, that is their right. In the end, we look to two different authorities. To argue their closely held beliefs which are nothing more than credulity would not win them to my side of the argument.

    So to be able to profitably and reasonably present an argument requires understanding the causes for differing opinions. This enables the speech to deal with the root cause of the disagreement.

    In the case of the Nurses who don't 'believe' in bloodless medicine, they are confusing science with the religious beliefs of their patients. The doctors on the other hand are possibly biased because of training and lack of knowledge.

Set the Ground Work

    Identify the proposition for your audience. It needs to be phrased as an issue where clear affirmative and negative sides can be taken.

    Give definition to any terms within the proposition. This makes it possible for everyone to understand the subject under consideration. Don’t argue how sweet 'Jonathan' Apples when your audience is thinking ‘Granny Smith’ apples. Take time to define these elements before presenting your argument.

    Identify any issues that directly relate to the proposition and appeal to your Most Wanted Response. Focus on these to avoid rambling.

    With the basics of argumentation covered, now you’re ready to move on to Evidence.

    Argumentation in these instances requires creating credible arguments and identifying faulty reasoning at times using informal logic. Facts alone will not always win an argument. Being understanding, reasonable, and setting a few ground rules, argumentation can enhance a speech.

    Refutation Why do you need to know how to use this skill? Included you will find an emotionally charged example of how refutation works and the two types.

Refutetwo ways and note the five special devices.

Speech Writing Home Page More on Speech Writing. Argumentation Resource

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