How can I create a short 350 to 500 word essay discussing writing a paper that has validity? It needs to cover: fact and fiction, supporting evidence, and bias and logic. What would be a good web...

How can I create a short 350 to 500 word essay discussing writing a paper that has validity? It needs to cover: fact and fiction, supporting evidence, and bias and logic. What would be a good web resource for helping in this project?

Asked on by k9beck25

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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The academic discipline devoted to the study of writing is called rhetoric. Rhetoric is the study of persuasive language and includes theories of evidence, informal logic, and audience analysis. Your assigned essay is therefore in the field of rhetorical theory, and seems to be responding to an assignment focused on analysis of evidence and argument. 

Your introduction should break down the components of an argumentative essay into discrete elements, including evidence and logic. It should carefully distinguish matters of fact and evidence from logic, which addresses the coherence of claims. In other words, the beginning of your essay should clearly distinguish between validity (which has to do with logic and reasoning) and truth (which has to do with correspondence to some actual state of affairs). 

Your first group of body paragraphs should discuss the grounds on which we consider evidence credible or judge whether it is factual. One important way to do this is analyze the source of the evidence. Is the author an expert in the subject? A doctor would be a better source of medical information than a high school student. Does the author benefit personally from whatever the author is advocating? A website selling a product, for example, is unlikely to be an unbiased source. 

The second part of the body of your essay should look into the issue of validity. For example, imagine that I state:

Some dogs are white. 

Other dogs are black.

Therefore Pongo, a dalmation, has a white coat with black spots. 

All three statements taken individually are true, but the two premises do not actually support the conclusion; they are irrelevant to it. As you discuss the nature of logical validity, you might talk about some of the more common fallacies, such as the argument ad hominem and the petitio principii.

Several of the sources cited below should be useful. For rhetorical terminology, another excellent website is:

http://rhetoric.byu.edu/

Sources:

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