Persuasion Argument

Persuasion is a refinement of argumentation. In argumentation, we need to build a case by supporting a thesis with reasons and evidence. Argumentation is mostly a function of reason and logic – logos.
However, in persuasion, we seek not only to argue for what we feel is a correct answer, but also to move others to accept our answer and act on it. In order to do that, we need to account for the human factor in rhetoric. There are four other elements which come into play: pathos – how audiences are moved emotionally, ethos – how they are influenced by the perceived character of the speaker, kairos – the right time and place for an argument, and doxa – the beliefs and values held by your audience.
Your assignment is seemingly simple – write a 3-4 page paper proposing a solution to a problem that has an impact on a number of people beyond yourself. In order to choose your topic, consider kairos – what problems or issues seem to be affecting people right now? Is there some change which you feel is ripe in the current moment?
Your audience will probably consist of people who are ready for change, and those who resist it. The resistant audience may need to be convinced that the problem even exists; before you can propose a solution, you need to build a case for the problem. You will need to support your reasons with evidence that is both sufficient (enough evidence to prove that the problem isn’t trivial – statistics are useful here) and convincing (case studies and personal examples put a human face on the problem and create a compelling sense of pathos.)
The solution to your problem is the thesis of your paper. Obviously, the solution must show that it actually solves the problem, but it must also be feasible – poverty could be ended by giving everyone a million dollars, but is that even possible? If the solution is clear, specific and easy, the audience is much more likely to comply. You should also anticipate any counter-arguments against your proposal: arguments that the problem doesn’t exist/is trivial, and arguments that another solution is preferable. You don’t have to invent the solution yourself – in fact, I expect that you will include at least two sources to provide supporting evidence.
Persuasion is a tricky business. Recent studies have shown that when people hear something which contradicts their beliefs, if it is a belief central to their sense of self, they will dig in deeper, clinging to it despite factual evidence to the contrary. People are more likely to respond positively if you show respect for them rather than antagonizing them. That’s why considering doxa is so important: what is your audience likely to know, feel, or believe about your topic? How can you address their concerns – their hopes, fears and values? How can you establish common ground? What arguments are likely to convince them? For example, if you are concerned about energy use and want to get people to turn of the room, fighting with someone over whether global warming exists is a lot tougher than showing them how much money

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