A Rulebook for Arguments / Edition 2

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A Rulebook for Arguments is a succinct introduction to the art of writing and assessing arguments, organized around specific rules, each illustrated and explained soundly but briefly. This widely popular primer-translated into eight languages-remains the first choice in all disciplines for writers who seek straightforward guidance about how to assess arguments and how to cogently construct them. The fourth edition offers a revamped and more tightly focused approach to extended arguments, a new chapter on oral arguments, and updated examples and topics throughout.

Updated examples, streamlined text, and the chapter on definition reworked in a rule-based format strengthen this already strong volume. Readers familiar with the previous edition will find a text that retains all the features that make Rulebook ideally suited for use as a supplementary course book-including its modest price and compact size. Unlike most textbooks on argumentative writing, Rulebook is organized around specific rules, illustrated and explained soundly and briefly. It is not a textbook, but a rulebook, whose goal is to help students get on with writing a paper or assessing an argument.

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Editorial Reviews

"What's the point of arguing?" So begins a concise, but dense with examples, examination of the logic of argumentation<-->moving from general rules in composing a brief argument to writing an argumentative essay. Lacks an index, information on the author, and dates of previous editions. Suitable as a supplementary text. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
From the Publisher

This is the ultimate 'how-to' book for anyone who wants to use reasons and evidence in support of conclusions, to be clear instead of confusing, persuasive instead of dogmatic, and better at evaluating the arguments of others. No one outgrows its forty-five timeless rules, all explained and illustrated with vivid examples. The fourth edition, even more elegantly organized and concise than before, adds new material on oral presentations and Web sources that everyone needs. --Debra Nails, Michigan State University

I'm very pleased with the new edition of this book. I've been using A Rulebook for Arguments for several years now in my critical thinking course with great success . . . the chapters on generalizations (formerly arguments by examples), sources (arguments by authority), and arguments about causes have all improved substantially. Thanks for a great new edition! --David Morrow, Hunter College

An elegant, concise, and consistently useful little book that every student needs. --Rachel Hadas, Rutgers University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780872201569
  • Publisher: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/28/1992
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 98

Meet the Author

Anthony Weston is Professor of Philosophy in the Department of Philosophy at Elon University.

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Table of Contents

Preface ix
Introduction xi
I. Composing a Short Argument: Some General Rules 1
1. Distinguish premises and conclusion 1
2. Present your ideas in a natural order 3
3. Start from reliable premises 4
4. Be concrete and concise 5
5. Avoid loaded language 6
6. Use consistent terms 7
7. Stick to one meaning for each term 8
II. Arguments by Example 10
8. Give more than one example 11
9. Use representative examples 12
10. Background information is crucial 14
11. Consider counterexamples 17
III. Arguments by Analogy 19
12. Analogy requires a relevantly similar example 21
IV. Arguments from Authority 24
13. Sources should be cited 25
14. Seek informed sources 26
15. Seek impartial sources 28
16. Cross-check sources 30
17. Personal attacks do not disqualify a source 30
V. Arguments about Causes 32
18. Explain how cause leads to effect 33
19. Propose the most likely cause 35
20. Correlated events are not necessarily related 36
21. Correlated events may have a common cause 36
22. Either of two correlated events may cause the other 38
23. Causes may be complex 38
VI. Deductive Arguments 40
24. Modus Ponens 41
25. Modus Tollens 42
26. Hypothetical Syllogism 44
27. Disjunctive Syllogism 46
28. Dilemma 47
29. Reductio ad absurdum 48
30. Deductive arguments in several steps 50
VII. Composing an Argumentative Essay
A. Exploring the Issue 53
A1. Explore the arguments on all sides of the issue 54
A2. Question and defend each argument's premises 56
A3. Revise and rethink arguments as they emerge 57
VIII. Composing an Argumentative Essay
B. Main Points of the Essay 59
B1. Explain the question 59
B2. Make a definite claim or proposal 60
B3. Develop your arguments fully 61
B4. Consider objections 62
B5. Consider alternatives 63
IX. Composing an Argumentative Essay
C. Writing 64
C1. Follow your outline 64
C2. Keep the introduction brief 65
C3. Give your arguments one at a time 65
C4. Clarify, clarify, clarify 67
C5. Support objections with arguments 68
C6. Don't claim more than you have shown 69
X. Fallacies 71
The Two Great Fallacies 71
Some Classical Fallacies 73
Appendix Definition 79
D1. When terms are unclear, get specific 80
D2. When terms are contested, work from the clear cases 82
D3. Don't expect definitions to do the work of arguments 84
Next Steps 86
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