By the end of this section, you will be able to:
- Identify key rhetorical concepts and thought patterns in a variety of texts.
- Explain how patterns of thought function for different audiences, purposes, and situations.
For the purposes of this course, logic means “reasoning based on thought and evidence.” In practical terms, logic is the ability to analyze and evaluate persuasive or argument writing for effectiveness. By extension, it also means that you can learn to use logic in your own argumentative writing. Like any other new skill, you are likely to learn best when you have a starting point. Here are some suggestions for how to begin thinking and writing logically:
- Approach a topic with an open mind.
- Consider what you already know about the topic.
- Consider what you want to know about the topic.
- Find credible information about the topic.
- Base your judgments of the topic on sound reasoning and evidence.
Once you have formed your opinions on a particular debatable subject, you must decide on the best way to organize them to share with others. Developing your skills in six widely used reasoning strategies, or patterns for thinking and writing, can help you determine the most logical and effective means of organizing information to make your points.
In this chapter, you will examine these six reasoning strategies—analogy, cause and effect, classification and division, comparison and contrast, problem and solution, and definition—that are often used in college classes. In addition, you will consider how writers’ personal views, cultural backgrounds, and purposes for writing help determine
- which reasoning strategy suits their needs; and
- what they decide to include in their writing.
As you progress in your college classes and beyond, you will find these reasoning strategies used in all genres of writing, both nonfiction (e.g., textbooks, how-to books) and fiction (e.g., novels, short stories). Understanding how these strategies work can help you recognize their common formats and analyze what you read; likewise, as a writer, understanding how these strategies work to reflect your thinking can help you determine the strategy you need to use.
student sample textExamining COVID-19 is like examining a robbery case in this way: both require a great deal of investigation. Those investigating the causes behind the pandemic look for the history of how the virus spread, and those investigating a crime look for the backstory that might connect the victims and criminals. In addition, the two groups of investigators look at the reasons behind the focus of their study. Medical investigators look at why the virus spread throughout the world; police investigators look at why the crime spree took place in a particular area. Also, both types of investigators are trying to stop whatever or whoever is the focus of their investigation. Medical investigators want to stop the virus; police investigators want to stop the crimes.end student sample text
Cause and Effect
student sample textRay’s grocery, Artie’s Hardware store, and Cradle and Teen department store all went out of business because a well-known superstore opened in Springdale. Customers who frequented Ray’s, an establishment that had been run by the same family for four generations, used to drive many miles to take advantage of the high quality of items in the meat and deli departments. After the opening of the superstore, however, those same customers found they could get similar items at a savings, even if the quality was not as high as the products at Ray’s. Customers at Artie’s Hardware often talked with owner Artie Shoeman about their hardware needs, but the store did not offer the same variety of items they could find in the superstore. The same was true for those who shopped at Cradle and Teen. The superstore featured lower prices and more variety, even if the items did not match the quality of the items at Cradle and Teen.end student sample text
Classification and Division
student sample textExtra material in the textbook can be divided into photographs, quotations, and tables. The photographs were all taken by the author and focus on various parts of the life cycle of the plants highlighted in the chapter. In addition, to add color and more information about the subject matter of each chapter, the author has inserted sidebar quotations from both famous and non-famous people. The tables the author has included help readers see more details about the progression of the plants’ spread across the country.end student sample text
student sample textAfter three months of training, the young dogs were placed into three categories: those who would go directly to permanent homes, those who would repeat the course, and those who would advance to the next level. The dogs that would be homed immediately were those who were far too social or far too active to be service dogs. The dogs that would repeat the course had possibilities as service dogs but needed more discipline and instruction. Their futures were yet to be decided. Those that advanced to the next level were obedient and focused and learned quickly. They displayed great promise as service dogs.end student sample text
Comparison and Contrast
This strategy is helpful when the similarities or differences are not obvious and when a significant common thread exists between the subjects. For example, a contrast between an expensive, elegant restaurant and a fast-food restaurant would be useless because the differences are clearly obvious, despite the common thread—both are restaurants. However, not so obvious might be some similarities.
When subjects have no common thread or have obvious shared characteristics, any comparison or contrast makes little sense—like contrasting a fish and a shoe (no common thread) or comparing two fast-food restaurants (obvious similarities). However, a writer actually might find a common thread between a fish and a shoe (perhaps shine or texture or color), and a valid topic of contrast might be differences between the two fast-food restaurants.
student sample textAlthough they seem different on the surface, one way in which Romantic-period poetry and 1980s rap music are alike is the desire the writers had to create a new approach to their art. They wanted to represent simpler values that were more connected to the natural world, values to which a general audience could relate. For example, in William Wordsworth’s “Daffodils,” the speaker can escape the depressing, industrialized urban world to find peace in nature by contemplating a field of flowers. Similarly, in the Sugarhill Gang’s 1979 “Rapper’s Delight,” the band sings of how their beats can lift spirits and cause listeners to dance and forget their woes. However, Romantic-period poetry and 1980s rap music are different in the delivery style and form of the art; “Rapper’s Delight” is set to music, which is an integral part of the piece, but “Daffodils” is not.end student sample text
Problem and Solution
student sample textThe issue of combating the spread of hate speech and misinformation on social media can be addressed if more social media providers improve their monitoring services. Aside from creating more algorithms that search for linked key words and phrases, social media providers should increase the number of professional monitors conducting active searches. Additionally, while many platforms such as Twitter and Facebook respond within a few days to reports of posts that violate their policies, more monitors could lessen the amount of time these posts are available. According to Facebook, inappropriate posts are investigated and removed within 24 to 48 hours (Facebook “Community Standards”). Some offenders have been reported multiple times for their platform violations, and social media sponsors should increase their monitoring of those offenders. Although such surveillance would increase the burden on the social media providers, it would help solve the growing challenge of online hate speech and misinformation.end student sample text
student sample textIn everyday speech, the word critical is often used to highlight negative aspects of a topic. If someone says a friend was critical of a new haircut, the implication is that the friend did not like the cut. However, when used in college classes, critical has an expanded meaning: noting both the negative and positive aspects of a topic, examining those aspects in depth, and then making decisions about the discoveries. Students directed to use critical thinking, critical reading, or critical writing should know they are expected to examine all sides of a topic fully, evaluate the validity of those sides, and then make sound judgments on the basis of their evaluation.end student sample text
In this chapter, you have learned about various reasoning strategies that you may use in academic and professional writing. Utilizing these strategies when you write can help you both evaluate and analyze text that you read and create more logical and persuasive arguments.