Home School Life Journal

Home School Life Journal
"Let us strive to make each moment beautiful."
Saint Francis DeSales
painting by Katie Bergenholtz

Teaching Your High School Student about Reasoning by Proof and Reasoning by Debate

In the past two weeks we have looked at three ways writers make arguments in articles:
Reasoning by Cause and Effect 
Reasoning by Comparison and Contrast 
Reasoning by Generalization 

This week we will look at two more ways writers make arguments in articles:
Reasoning by Proof 
Reasoning by Debate 


Reasoning by Proof


Reasoning by Proof seems like it is self-explanatory, but there are several fallacies that students should learn to look for when looking at Reasoning by Proof:

Irrelevant proof: evidence that doesn't actually apply to the main point, but to a separate point

Negative proof: a conclusion based on the absence of evidence to the contrary 

Prevalent proof: this is "proof" that is assumed because "everyone knows" it to be true.

Numbers: Evidence that emphasizes the numbers, in order to de-emphasize the methods used to get the proof.

Appeal to Authority: the argument that is basically "I'm right because I'm an expert" without the evidence to support the argument. 

The Extreme: Using the conclusion that a particular evidence can't be true because it is an extreme viewpoint. Sometimes the "extreme" viewpoint is true.


Reasoning by Debate

This is a really good way of proving a point of view. Therefore, many good articles begin with a survey of interpretations of the topic under examination and arguments that refute these opposing interpretations, leaving one interpretation that is to be believed over the other interpretations. Students should look for the cue words other people believe,  the traditional view is,  other views are wrong because, older interpretations, and other viewpoints are.
There are some fallacies,  however, that are possible in this way of presenting an argument. 

Either/Or: This occurs when the author debates that there are only two options possible and if one is proven wrong, then we are left to only conclude that the alternative option is the only one left. Students should ask themselves if all alternatives have been eliminated. 

Attacking the Arguer: This occurs when the argument is directed at the person making the argument rather than at the arguments presented.

Straw Man: This is a technique of attacking an argument by adding to or changing the original argument and then attacking the changes or additions. 

Looking for an identifying these fallacies will help your student when he reads or makes arguments. 


What is the difference between middle school level and high school level level learning?


In high school students should be able to identify which level of reasoning is used in an article and be able to look for the possible fallacies with each of the types of reasoning. In this way, he can evaluate the article on a higher level than the middle school student who may or may not be convinced by an article's reasoning, but not know why or why not. The high school student can then write his own paper, using a particular article to back up his claims or to refute the claims of the article. This is practice for a college-level paper.

Next week we will look at how students can learn how to analyze arguments of all types.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. It means so much.