148 Argument Analysis

Due Tuesday, September 18, in class.


Step One:

Find an article which expresses an argument.  The simplest way to do this is to browse the opinion section of any major newspaper (or the UDK).  Letters to the editor are often arguments as well.  Be sure that the argument that you select contains examples of assuring, guarding, discounting, and evaluative terms.  Be warned that very bad arguments, or very badly written arguments are more difficult to analyze than arguments that are well-formed or at least decent arguments.

Step Two:

Write your analysis in the following way:

  1. Isolate the MAIN argument of the article.  Beware: there are often several arguments in one article.
  2. Put that argument into standard form, filling in any unstated premises.
  3. Evaluate the argument’s validity
  4. Discuss what kind of support the author provides for their premises, and whether that support is adequate (i.e. evaluate the argument for soundness).  Clarify key terms if required.
  5. Identify what use the author makes of Assuring, Guarding, and Discounting terms, and how such usages are important to the presentation and/or support of the argument
  6. Mention (if applicable) use of evaluative language in the premises and/or conclusion and how the presence of those terms affects the argument.
  7. Answer: Is this argument a good argument? why or why not?


  • Start on this assignment soon so that you may have time to ask questions about it in class.
  • Use the textbook as a guide.  It provides several excellent examples of how to do this kind of work. (See specifically Chapters 4 and 5)


For scoring purposes I will place equal value on each of the aspects of the assignment (reflected in the numbered list above).  Of most importance to me is clarity in communicating that you have learned how to effectively identify and evaluate an argument encounterd in daily life and understand the functions of language that often accompanies that argumentation.

Word Max: 1000 words.