Sunday, December 29, 2013

Testing The Validity of Your Speech's Argument

Editor's Note: here is a very clear and specific outline for testing the correctness, soundness, and resliience of the argument you are making in your speech. Checking your idea against any of these conditions is bound to improve your skill in arguing and persuading!

I. The Question Under Discussion

1. Is it clearly stated?

(a) Do the terms of statement mean the same to each disputant? (For example, the meaning of the term "gentleman" may not be mutually agreed upon.)

(b) Is confusion likely to arise as to its purpose?

2. Is it fairly stated?

(a) Does it include enough?

(b) Does it include too much?

(c) Is it stated so as to contain a trap?

3. Is it a debatable question?

4. What is the pivotal point in the whole question?

5. What are the subordinate points?

II. The Evidence

1. The witnesses as to facts

(a) Is each witness impartial? What is his relation to the subject at issue?

(b) Is he mentally competent?

(c) Is he morally credible?

(d) Is he in a position to know the facts? Is he an
eye-witness?

(e) Is he a willing witness?

(f) Is his testimony contradicted?

(g) Is his testimony corroborated?

(h) Is his testimony contrary to well-known facts or general principles?

(i) Is it probable?

2. The authorities cited as evidence

(a) Is the authority well-recognized as such?

(b) What constitutes him an authority?

(c) Is his interest in the case an impartial one?

(d) Does he state his opinion positively and clearly?

(e) Are the non-personal authorities cited (books, etc.) reliable and unprejudiced?

3. The facts adduced as evidence

(a) Are they sufficient in number to constitute proof?

(b) Are they weighty enough in character?

(c) Are they in harmony with reason?

(d) Are they mutually harmonious or contradictory?

(e) Are they admitted, doubted, or disputed?

4. The principles adduced as evidence

(a) Are they axiomatic?

(b) Are they truths of general experience?

(c) Are they truths of special experience?

(d) Are they truths arrived at by experiment?
Were such experiments special or general?
Were the experiments authoritative and conclusive?

III. The Reasoning

1. Inductions

(a) Are the facts numerous enough to warrant accepting the generalization as being conclusive?

(b) Do the facts agree only when considered in the light of this explanation as a conclusion?

(c) Have you overlooked any contradictory facts?

(d) Are the contradictory facts sufficiently explained when this inference is accepted as true?

(e) Are all contrary positions shown to be relatively untenable?

(f) Have you accepted mere opinions as facts?

2. Deductions

(a) Is the law or general principle a well-established one?

(b) Does the law or principle clearly include the fact you wish to deduce from it, or have you strained the inference?

(c) Does the importance of the law or principle warrant so important an inference?

(d) Can the deduction be shown to prove too much?

3. Parallel cases

(a) Are the cases parallel at enough points to warrant an inference of similar cause or effect?

(b) Are the cases parallel at the vital point at issue?

(c) Has the parallelism been strained?

(d) Are there no other parallels that would point to a
stronger contrary conclusion?

4. Inferences

(a) Are the antecedent conditions such as would make the allegation probable? (Character and opportunities of the accused, for example.)

(b) Are the signs that point to the inference either clear or numerous enough to warrant its acceptance as fact?

(c) Are the signs cumulative, and agreeable one with the other?

(d) Could the signs be made to point to a contrary conclusion?

5. Syllogisms

(a) Have any steps been omitted in the syllogisms? (Such as in a syllogism in enthymeme.) If so, test any such by filling out the syllogisms.

(b) Have you been guilty of stating a conclusion that really does not follow? (A non sequitur.)

(c) Can your syllogism be reduced to an absurdity? (Reductio ad absurdum.)

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