Discovering Arguments: An Introduction to Critical Thinking, Writing, and Style, 4th edition

Published by Pearson (January 10, 2011) © 2012

  • William Palmer

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The argument rhetoric/reader that emphasizes style throughout.

Presenting a holistic view of content and style, this argument rhetoric, reader, and research guide helps students analyze and evaluate what they read, argue persuasively, and communicate more clearly than they ever have before.  Students discover, internalize and apply at increasing levels of sophistication the impact of persuasive appeals (logos, pathos and ethos), the principles of critical thinking and the hallmarks of effective style through more than 200 embedded, guided activities directed at their own papers

Discovering Arguments presents a holistic view of content and style. Through the chapters, students learn to excel at what they say; through five interchapters on style, students learn to excel at how they say it. No other argument textbook contains style interchapters or presents elements of style in such accessible and useful ways.

Discovering Arguments presents logos, ethos, and pathos throughout the text as the essential argument paradigm.  These appeals form the center of thinking, writing, and reading activities in the book.

Toulmin and Rogerian argument are each considered in their own chapters and supported with readings, student papers, and rich activities.

Copious guided discovery activities in every chapter systematically lead students to internalize the most important ideas in argument and composition, and to apply them immediately to their own writing, reading and thinking.

Through four chapters devoted to research, sources, documentation and research writing, Discovering Arguments enthusiastically supports the research paper assignment and working with sources.   This edition includes a case study of a student, "Ryan," as he went through the process of finding a topic, researching, and writing this crucial paper.


This text presents readings by a wide variety of professional writers-- e.g., Mitch Albom, Anna Quindlen, Leonard Pitts, Jr, Kathleen Parker, Howard Gardner, and Dave Barry.  Included in the mix are briefer selections as well as longer, more challenging pieces.

A new Chapter 4: Rogerian Argument includes eight professional essays and two student papers on arguing for common ground, including a scholarly article by Scott Seider and Howard Gardner called “The Fragmented Generation.”  Further, a new section on critical reading strategies is featured here.

A new Chapter 5: Rhetorical Analysis teaches this essential activity by examining seven selections, including the classic text by Martin Luther King, Jr, "Letter from a Birmingham Jail."

An expanded Chapter on the Toulmin Method now includes more professional essays and student papers to better illustrate the concepts.

Longer and more challenging reading selections are now incorporated throughout to provide balance with briefer, more approachable pieces.

The research chapters are now more clear, concise, and useful. Students can follow “Ryan’s Process Notes” in which a student discusses his journey of finding a topic, doing research, and writing his argument paper.  These chapters also contain new assignments and student models: the research proposal and annotated bibliography

An increased number of visuals in the fourth edition exposes students to more visual argument and provides assignments for visual analysis.

Interchapter 5: Exploring Style includes a new section on E-Mail Etiquette that helps students present themselves credibly through e-mail.



Chapter 1: Communication and Persuasion: Logos, Pathos, Ethos                                                                

Attention, Arguing, and Inquiry

    What are arguments?

    The process of inquiry

    The paradigm shift

    Communicating Clearly and Effectively  

Sascha Redetsky,  Don’t Judge Me by My Tights

Convincing Reasons and Evidence

Brian A. Courtney,Freedom from Choice

Writing Assignment: Personal Argument Essay

Finding your subject: Your writing situation

     Two strategies for finding topics  



Rhetoric and Rhetorical Situation   

      Rhetorical situation


Writing Persuasively  

The Persuasive Appeals  


    Recognizing logos

S. I. Hayakawa, On Human Survivall

Noticing Overgeneralizations


    Recognizing pathos

Julia Kraus, If I Told You, Would You Want to Hear?

    Humor as pathos


    Recognizing ethos

Elisabeth Bletsch,  Will  Part of You Be Left Behind?

Thesis Statements  

    Evaluating your thesis statement

Engaging Your Audience: Titles, Introductions, Conclusions  

    Features of good titles

    Title strategies

    Titles to avoid

    Features of good introductions

    Introductory strategies

    Introductions to avoid

    Features of good conclusions  

    Concluding strategies

    Conclusions to avoid

Actively Reading An Essay

Sarah Krumrie, No, I Heard You–I Just Don’t Think It’s Funny

Margo Brines, Forgo the Major Dilemma

Sharing and Evaluating Essays

A Note on Defining Grammar, Mechanics, and Usage  

A Critical Thinker’s Guide for Evaluating Writing  


Interchapter 1: Style and Voice


    Monosyllabic words

    Multisyllabic words

    Pretentious writing

Other Features of Diction  

    Specific or general

    Concrete or abstract  

    Literal or figurative

    Literal language

    Figurative language

    Avoid clichés  

    Precise words  

    Watch Out for Things



    Analyzing attitude toward audience

    Analyzing attitude toward subject     

Sentence Tools      

    Simple sentences

    Joining complete thoughts: coordination

    Using semicolons to join complete thoughts    

    Using semicolons with formal transition words    

    Using Semicolons in a Complex Series  

Solving Two Common Sentence Problems  

    Comma splices

    Run-on sentences 


Chapter 2: Strategies of Argumentation

Using Examples, Authorities,  and Statistics

Examples and Illustrations

Writing Assignment: Illustration

Using Authorities

Using Statistics

Using Contraries 

    Using contradictions and paradoxes


    Writing Assignment: Contradiction


    Paradox and tolerance for ambiguity

    Either/or thinking

    Writing Assignment: Paradox

    The wisdom of contraries

Using Comparison  

    Organizing comparison: block and alternate patterns

    Writing Assignment: Comparison

Using Refutation 

    Writing Assignment: Refutation

Using Induction and Deduction



Using Narration and Description  



Using Analogy  

    Explaining the mind

Using Classification  

Writing Assignment: Classification

Using Cause and Effect  

    Writing Assignment: Cause and Effect

    Using Analogy

    Explaining the Mind

    Writing Assignment: Analogy

    Using Humor  

    Humorous tone 

Using Definition  

    Digging for roots of words

    Writing Assignment: Definition Essay

    Writing Assignment: Exploring an Essay

Exploring an Essay  

Ashley Yuill, Choose Wisely

David Gessner, A Feeling of Wildness

Leonard Pitts, Jr.,Rejecting Feminism Makes No Sense

Dave Barry , Eat All That You Can Eat


Interchapter 2: Voice and Emphasis

Diction and Repetition

    Repeating words for emphasis


Sentence Tools  

    Joining complete and incomplete thoughts: subordination

    Colons and dashes and voice 



    Using pairs of dashes

    Italics (Underlining) and voice

    Parentheses and voice

Fine-Tuning Sentences  

    Sentence fragments: pros and cons


    Omit needless words

    Omit needless words



Using the Toulmin Method to Argue

    Kinds of arguments–kinds of claims

    Laws and policies

    Reality, facts

    Values, morals, taste


    Stating the warrant

Daniel May,Practicing the Toulmin Method of Arguing

Alyssa Huntoon, Toulmin Analysis of an Editorial Cartoon

Gregg Nelson, Why Single Out Cell Phones 

Exploring an essay using the Toulmin method 

        Dave Eggers, Serve or Fail        

      Margo Brines , Exploring Dave Eggers’s “Serve or Fail” with the Toulmin Method

Writing Assignment: Exploring an Essay with the Toulmin Method

Kathleen Parker, Children  Last

Jessica Peck Corry, Republican Moms for Marijuana:“Time to Legalize Is Now”              

Mike Adams, Weak Negotiating Fathers

Problems in Reasoning  

    Finding the facts

Implications, Assumptions, and Inferences  




Problems of Insufficient Evidence  


John Gray, Wallets and Purses

    Card stacking

    Ad ignorantium

    Post hoc ergo propter hoc

    Problems Based on Irrelevant Information  

    Ad baculum

    Ad hominem

    Fallacy of opposition

    Genetic fallacy

    Guilt by association

    Ad misericordiam

    Ad populum


    Plain folks and snob appeal

    Ad verecundiam

    Red herring

    Weak opponent

    Tu quoque


Problems of Ambiguity  


    Begging the question


    Loaded language

    False analogy

Other Problems of Faulty Reasoning  

    False dilemma (either/or thinking)

    Non sequitur


    Reductio ad absurdum

    Slippery slope


Interchapter 3: Strategies of Repetition

Sentence Tools 




The Power of Threes in Sentences 

Susan Ager,Baby, Baby, Baby, 3 Has Its Charms

    Using threes in sentences: rising order or not

    Varying sentence beginnings: three ways  

    Using -ing phrases

    Misusing -ing Phrases: Misplaced Modifiers

    Using -ed or -en phrases

    Using To phrases



Problems with the Argument Culture                                                                                         

Rogerian Argument

      Common Ground

      Advantages and Disadvantages of Rogerian Argument

Applying Rogerian Argument

Richard Selzer, Brute

Writing Assignment: Personal Essay Using Rogerian Argument

Student Model Paper                                                                                                                     

Critical Reading Strategies                                                                                                                    

Outlining and Summarizing

Writing Assignment: Using Rogerian Argument to Analyze Essays                                                    

Gary Steiner, Animal, Vegetable, Miserable

      Student Model Paper

Readings for Rogerian Argument

Courtney E. Martin,  The Undocumented American Dream

John Hawkins,  5 Reasons Illegal Immigrants Shouldn’t Be Given American Citizenship

Benjamin Could,  Cognitive Enhancement on Campus: Taking Competition Seriously

Mitch Albom, The Real Tragedy of a Notre Dame Football Recruit’s Spring Break Death     

Robert Voas, There’s No Benefit to Lowering the Drinking Age                                   

John J. Miller, The Case Against 21                                                                                   

Maggie Gallagher, The Message of Same-Sex Marriage 

Scott Seider and Howard Gardner, The Fragmented Generation 


Interchapter 4: Style and CONTRARIES

Sentence Tools  


    Antithesis and balanced sentences

    Loose and periodic sentences

Fine-Tuning Sentences  

    False starts

    Active and passive verbs



What Is a Rhetorical Analysis?

Why Do a Rhetorical Analysis? 

Guidelines for Exploring an Essay for a Rhetorical Analysis

Writing Assignment: A Rhetorical Analysis

Dennis Prager , Is America Still Making Men      

Student Model Paper

Readings for Rhetorical Analysis

Charles M. Blow,  Welcome to the Club

Mitch Albom,  Don’t Shoot Holes in Gun Control Bills

Eve Ensler, The Power and Mystery of Naming Things

Anna Quindlen, Whoever We Are, Loss Finds Us and Defines Us

Leonard Pitts, Jr., Sept. 12, 2001: We’ll Go Forward from This Moment 

A Call for Unity: Letter from Eight White Clergymen 

Martin Luther King, Jr.,  Letter from a Birmingham Jail


Interchapter 5: Exploring Style

Presenting Yourself in E-Mail  

Tools of Style  

Guidelines for Writing an Essay to Explore Style

Exploring the Style of a Passage  

Writing Assignment: Exploring the Style of an Essay or a Speech  

Rick Reilly, The Swooshification of the World 

Student Model Paper

Essays for Exploration  

Anna Quindlen, Commencement Speech at Mount Holyoke College

Martin Luther King Jr.,I Have a Dream


Chapter 6: Visual Arguments

    News photographs

    Feature photography

    Staged images

    Documentary photographs

Writing Assignment: Photographs

    essays exploring photographs 

    Like a photograph, a painting  


Special Considerations for Exploring Ads

    Student essays exploring advertisements  

Writing Assignment: Advertisements


    Cartoons and creativity

    Creativity and humor

    Serious cartoons

    Editorial cartoons

Special Considerations for Exploring Cartoons

Writing Assignment: Cartoons

    Student essays exploring cartoons


    Writing about a film

Writing Assignment: Film Review

      Guidelines for Writing a Film Review

    Before you do research

    Finding and synthesizing sources

Student Film Review  


Chapter 7: Critical Thinking about Poetryand Fiction

Reading and Writing about Poetry  

Theodore Roethke,My Papa’s Waltz

    The language of poetry

Emily Dickinson,A Narrow Fellow in the Grass

    Elements of poetry



Theodore Roethke,Cellar

    Figures of speech: metaphors, similes, and symbols

Sylvia Plath, Metaphors



    Sound patterns


    Line breaks

Reading Notebook  

    William Stafford,Traveling through the Dark

    Writing Assignment: An Essay about a Poem

    Robert Hayden, Those Winter Sundays

    Student essay exploring a poem  

Poems to Consider for Writing an Essay  

    Mary Oliver,The Summer Day

    Ted Kooser,Splitting an Order

    Kim Noriega , Heaven, 1963

    Paula Sergi, Vocations Club

    Jim Daniels, Work Boots: Still Life

    Bruce Weigl, May

    Thomas Lux,Upon Seeing the Ultrasound Photo of an Unborn Child 

    Anne Sexton, Red Roses     

    Langston Hughes, Mother to Son    

    Naomi Shihab Nye, Famous

Reading and Writing about Fiction  

    Stuart Dybek, Lights

    Stuart Dybek, Maroon

    Anne Caston, Flying Out with the Wounded

    Elements of fiction

    Plot and conflict


    Point of view


    Moral issues

Writing Assignment: An Essay about a Story  

    Stories to Consider for Writing an Essay 

        Kate Chopin, The Story of an Hour 

        Raymond Carver, Popular Mechanics

        Bonnie Jo Campbell, Shotgun Wedding 

        Stuart Dybek, Pet Milk

Chapter 8: Research Strategies

Research Writing Options  

    The report

    The argument paper

It May Feel Like a Mountain of Information

Strategy One: Using Subject-Specific Encyclopedias

          Preliminary reading and your research question

Strategy Two: Looking for Books  

      The library catalog

    Critical thinking in a research notebook

    Taking notes

Strategy Three: Looking for Articles  

    Using databases  

    Differences between magazines and journals 

    An advantage of journals 

    Newspaper articles and online archives

    Divide your work into steps or phases

    Look for the most recent sources first

    Professional, technical, and specialty journals

Strategy Four: Government Documents and Statistics

    Biographical sources

    Book reviews>

Strategy Five: Doing Some Field Research 

    Guidelines for interviews

Writing Assignment: Research Proposal 

      Example of research proposal


Chapter 9: Evaluating Evidence

Scholarship and the Wikipedia Dilemma  

Scott Jaschik, A Stand Against Wikipedia

T. Mills Kelly, Why I Won’t Get Hired at Middlebury

Research and the Internet  

What Is a Reliable Site?

    Criteria for Web sites

Who Is the Author?

    Identifying authors

    Watch out for false and impartial authorities

>Reliable Information: On the Web and Off  


    Timely data

    Documentation and credibility

    Hoaxes and frauds

Understanding Evidence in Research Writing


    Persuasive Appeals

    Questioning evidence

    Primary and secondary evidence

    The weight of evidence

    Remaining impartial

    Information without attribution

    Evaluating statistical data

Writing Assignment: Annotated Bibliography

      Example of annotated bibliography

Going Beyond the Information Given  

Nicholas D. Kristof, Save the Darfur Puppy

Writing Assignment: Exploring an Article by Doing Research from It  

Lori Aratani, Teens Can Multitask, But What Are Costs?

Rob Stein, Premarital Abstinence Pledges Ineffective, Study Finds >

Gardiner Harris, Researchers Find Study of Medical Marijuana Discouraged


Chapter 10: Writing Your Reseach paper

Researchers as Writers  

      Working through your project

      Discovering order

      Shaping your thesis

      Substantiating your data

      Understanding your audience

      Controlling your voice

      Using tools of style

      Using persuasive appeals

      Taking your time

Using Sources: In-Text Citation 

    Using author’s name within a sentence

    Using author’s name in parentheses

    Using signal phrases with direct quotes

    Using direct quotes for words, phrases, and sentences

    How to use long quotes

    Vary the way you use direct quotes

    Using blended quotes within your own sentences

    Commas and periods go inside quotation marks

    Using colons and semicolons with quotation marks

    Using single quotation marks

    Using quotation marks around words used in a special sense

    Using an ellipsis mark to indicate omission of words

    Using brackets to add your own words in a quote

    Using “sic” to indicate errors in quotes

    When it is appropriate to use direct quotes

    Common knowledge  

Plagiarism, Summarizing, and Paraphrasing  

Writing a Report

      A model report

      Organizing reports

The Formal Outline  

    The preliminary outline

    The formal outline model  

Apply What You Have Learned in Earlier Chapters  

>Works Cited or References  

    The bibliography rule

A Model Argument Paper  



Guidelines for References in Your Text: MLA Style

Directory To MLA Works Cited Models

Book: MLA Basic Works Cited Model

Books: MLA Works Cited Models

Periodical: MLA Basic Works Cited Model

Periodicals: MLA Works Cited Models

Online Sources: MLA Works Cited Models     

Other Sources: MLA Works Cited Models

 MLA Guidelines for Manuscript Format                                                                                        

APA Style: Name and Date Method of Documentation

Guidelines for References in Your Text: APA Style

    References List in APA Style

Directory to APA Works Cited Models

Book: APA Basic Reference Form

Books: APA Reference List Models


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