Writing Workshop II Professor Julia Evergreen Keefer

An Advanced Writing and Research Strategies Course

Theme for Spring 05: Seventeenth Century New York: From Late Renaissance Europe to the American Wilderness

Research Topic: You may choose any topic from any discipline such as literature, politics, medicine, business, religion, science or law that is controversial and conducive to developing claims of fact, value and policy; but, in order to ground the class discussions and develop originality and interdisciplinarity, we will compare and contrast these topics to the early history of Manhattan and the Hudson River. For this, we will study THE ISLAND AT THE CENTER OF THE WORLD, and take class trips to the museums of the American Indian, New York and perhaps even upstate to the Huguenot stone houses. Taking sides on present controversies demands topicality and shrewd thinking; researching the past requires imagination and close textual analysis. Come to Huguenot Street.

Required Reading:
THE ISLAND AT THE CENTER OF THE WORLD by Russell Shorto for content theme
SWANN'S WAY by Marcel Proust for syntactical analysis
MLA/APA online style book
Anthology of Native American Indian Poetry

Extended Lectures: https://pages.nyu.edu/keefer/com/lecture1.html
Sharpen Argumentation at: https://pages.nyu.edu/keefer/brain/argue.html and, /argue1.html and /argue2.html, and /basic.html


To complete a 15-20 page college research paper with a 3 page bibliography
To explore a personal methodology for creativity and research from brainstorming
To gather, organize and evaluate primary and secondary sources online, in the library, the community and through empirical research such as interviews and investigation
To engage in close and survey reading and to paraphrase, summarize, and integrate sources into personal research
To develop and refine a thesis
To structure the categories of an outline
To develop and refine critical and argumentative faculties
To establish credibility through research, audience analysis, (beliefs, values, attitudes and behaviors), critical thinking, decision making and persuasive tactics
To learn the constructs of classical (Aristotle) and contemporary (Toulmin, Roger, Monroe, Boolean, Cyber) argumentation
To constructively question and defend a claim or syllogism, identifying logical fallacies
To practice debates in workshop (cooperative and adversarial) and improve oral communication skills
To understand advocacy through role playing and argumentative writing in the voice of alter ego
To analyse media, politics, law, current events, religion, philosophy, literature, science, history in terms of controversy, conflict and conversion
To improve writing skills through improvisational, poetic and personal writing
To create a distinctive, original expository style, using MLA or APA parenthetical documentation
To increase knowledge and understanding of content theme
To introduce you to great literature, in this case, Swann's Way by Marcel Proust, which we will analyze for syntax

Requirements: In class writing every week, weekly submissions of at least 2 pages of writing in any genre. Midterm paper and cross editing--8-10 pages with one page bibliography. Excellent final paper, 15-20 pages, 3 page bibliography. All academic writing must be in MLA or APA style. Everyone will give at least one oral presentation after the midterm. You may include a creative webfolio for internet publication which can include poetry, personal writing/memoirs, and artwork, as long as it relates to course theme.

Grading: Each weekly assignment (in any genre) is given an A if you do it and there are no grammatical errors, B if there are grammatical errors, and F if you don't do it. A critieria sheet for the midterm and final will explain the grading in terms of logic and argumentation, depth of research and diversity of sources, originality of thesis, presentation and findings, correct MLA or APA format, grammar and style. The final paper is 40% of the grade, the midterm 30% and the weekly papers, participation in class and listserv and oral presentations another 30%.

Your job is to collect the 3 page bibliography of internet sources, newspapers and journal articles, books, interviews, case studies, observations, audio/video etc. for your 3 page bibliography.

Attendance/Participation Policy: You are only allowed one absence to get a good grade. This is an intensive writing class and requires active, weekly participation. When you are forced to be absent, consult the website and listserv, email classmates and make up the work as soon as possible. Individual attention is for research projects, not to waste time discussing why you can't come to class. This is also true of late or missed assignments. The curriculum and grading contract are clear: it is your responsibility to hand in work every week and to clarify assignments when they are given.

Individual Conferences: Students are given individual attention before and after class, as well as virtually through the listserv. Take advantage of this opportunity to improve your thinking and writing.

Although Writing Workshop II is a research course with stringent academic requirements, it should also be a time to explore the way you think, to develop your writing style, and to discover a personal methodology that works for you. As you write and improve your research skills, think about the following questions: 1) Do you prefer to build your own house or to evaluate, analyse and synthesize the contruction of others'? (Creative vs. Critical Thinking) 2) Do you start with a view of the big picture or do you need to piece together the details before you can understand what you're talking about? (Deductive vs. Inductive Thinking) 3) Do you prefer to see, read, hear or feel things? (Sensory Preferences) 4) Do you like clear-cut goals and definitions or do you prefer to wrestle with ambiguity, surprising yourself with different shades of meaning and interpretation? 5) Are you trapped in a compulsive rigidity of formulas and protocol or are you lost in a chaotic wilderness of creativity? 6) Are you afraid to play and make a fool of yourself or are you so wild you can't conform to anything? 7)Do you need more structure or do you need to let go?

Important Dates for Spring 04: (Don't forget that you are still submitting at least 2 or 3 pages of work every week, regardless of the assignment. Try to revolve these mini-assignments around your research theme whenever possible. In addition, you must copy out by hand a long sentence from Proust every week to bring to class for analysis. If you are stuck for a topic, you can write about THE ISLAND AT THE CENTER OF THE WORLD.)

January 22: Writing diagnostic. Introduction to course and theme. The goal of this course is not just to cough up a product, the research paper, but to develop a process, an individualized program of discovery to allow you to experience wonder, heighten curiosity and develop the strategies, critical and creative skills necessary to find a specific focus and an original angle in vast amounts of information. You should also be developing yourself as a writer, opening your mind, and perfecting your literary style.

January 29: Read, understand and analyze the main propositions in the core books. What do you look for in a thesis? For this course, theses must be argumentative in nature, addressing the focal point of controversy, and providing an umbrella for your work. One of the most difficult things students face in research is finding an appropriate thesis. Learn to recognize the main proposition in books, articles, speeches so that you can decide whether to use the evidence to support or refute and then rebut your work. Come to last semester's class. Introduction to Proust and complex, compound sentences. Bring one of his long sentences to analyze every week.Start reading THE ISLAND, a few chapters every week.

Feb 5: Realize the importance of seeing an argument from everyone's POV. Learn to wear different hats to strengthen your own. Develop your hypothesis. You can work with 2 or 3 potential hypotheses. Feel free to change them at any time. Pick 3 most important sources, including those who refute your theses. Summarize, analyze and integrate them into your work. Play word or creativity games, cubes, questions, six hats, role-playing to develop your stance and lead you to the right questions.

Feb 12: Website Lecture on kinds of claims, fallacies and rebuttals, difference between classical Aristotelian, Boolean, Toulmin and Cyber-argumentation, focusing on how rhetoric can be embedded in different linguistic, numerical, diagrammatic and visual symbols.

Feb 19: Strengthen your argumentation with debate in the listserv and next week. Detect the logical fallacies in all points of view. Write a think piece with a strong position stance, without worrying about all your sources just yet. Draw on personal experience, identify yourself, and combine personal essay with argumentation. Read your think pieces out loud and debate each other. Play with the presumption and burden of proof that lawyers use. For next week write a rough draft of a midterm, around 8 pages. Pay special attention to the relationship of logic to syntax. Proofread carefully for grammatical, spelling, word choice and format (APA or MLA) errors. Make sure you are using MLA or APA parenthetical documentation. By now you should have finished THE ISLAND and found a way to incorporate Seventeenth Century New York into your topic.

Feb 26: Discussion and Preparation for Midterm. Bring problems to class. Debate to strengthen claims. Everyone should be prepared to give a 5-10 speech on their research topic.

MARCH 5: Bring 3 copies of your 8-10 page midterm with one page biblography. Cross edit each other's midterm papers and do self-evaluations. 25% Originality, 25% Logic and Use of Evidence, 25% Language/Style, correct APA or MLA format, 25% Research-- diversity and depth of sources. How can you develop more original research during the second part of the semester?

March 12: Strengthen Claims of Fact and develop the vocabulary to discuss Claims of Value. Indian poetry pow-wow.

March 26: Bring in the interviews, surveys, sources that identify the originality of your work. Bring tape recorder and play with debates and interviews in class. Limit your research and refine your thesis so that you are very specific as to person, time, place, concept etc. This is the best way to avoid logical fallacies.Work on bibliographies. Bring revised outlines to class next week.

April 2: Utopian exercise. Bring Claims of Policy that create utopias as an exercise for the imagination.

April 9: Bring papers to class with revised outlines. Discussion of outlining and the relationship of outlining to public speech.

April 16: Oral Presentations. Bring tape recorders or CD players. Give 15 minute presentations on your topic based on your research outline. You may use our fancy A/V equipment such as internet projections, audio-visual aids, DVD etc. You must record these sessions and the follow-up. At least half of the class must role-play as your hostile audience. For example, if you are presenting a pro-genetic enhancement position then choose conservative bible belt Republicans as your audience.

April 23: Oral Presentations. Bring tape recorders or CD players.

April 30: Cross edit rough drafts of finals. You must bring at least 15 typed pages of material with which to work. Bring at least three copies. Work on transitions, style, vocabulary, syntax.

May 7: Final papers due. 15-20 pages with 3 page bibliography. Bring disc if you want it published. Evaluation: 25% research depth and diversity, 25% grammatically and stylistically correct MLA or APA format, 25% originality in style, vision and presentation, 25% incisive critical thinking and sound argumentative structure.

Strength Endurance Coordination Focus Flexibility Speed Posture
The ability to identify, analyse, excamine and lift a thought and defend its meaning against the resistance of argumentation. This skill is best developed through Aristotelian rhetoric. Mental endurance is required to sustain intellectual activity against boredom, lethargy, frustration, hyperactivity, overstimulation. Coordination is the organization of parts into an efficient, working whole, which involves changes in speed, dynamics, resistance, spatial patterning and points of view.

Focus is the ability to concentrate on one idea to the exclusion of others. A dancer focuses on a spot on the wall when executing pirouettes, a useful cognitive application when surfing.


Flexibility is the ability to see all sides of an issue, exceeding the limits of dogma, fear, and prejudice. Because of the vast amount of information we must get through, it is important to develop speed. Aerobic training can help increase our ability to read, write and think quickly.

Posture refers to the body's alignment in relation to gravity, space and motion. Mental posture establishes voice or presence.


In the Brain Gymnasium, we work on mindbody conditioning, assessing and understanding our cognitive domains, and changing our cerebral grooves for more potent creativity. Creativity has three stages: 1) Childlike play and wonder where we become as free and careless as a child playing; 2) Working in our cognitive domain with the appropriate combination of logical and translogical thinking such as homospatial and Janusian processes, (which can lead to frustration, and angst as repressed unconscious drives are uncovered and designing our structure with right and left brain synchronicity; 3) Completing and presenting our work to an audience which can necessitate courage and fearlessness if the work is truly creative because it would go against the status quo. Creativity is closely related to destruction and therefore the mind must be constantly erased through meditation and cognitive colonics.

How the Internet Changes the Way We Think
Technical Writing and the Internet



  • EVALUATION (assessing assumptions and discovering logical fallacies) VERSUS OPENING ANOTHER WINDOW.
  • ARISTOTELIAN LOGIC (syllogistic reasoning) VERSUS BOOLEAN LOGIC (intersecting circles of and, or and not):
  • OBSERVING THE UNITIES OF TIME/SPACE/ACTION VERSUS SUPERIMPOSITION OF TIME/SPACE/ACTION (i.e. allowing two or more discrete objects to occupy the same space or time or action).

Keefer's Cyber-Logic Boot Camp

1)Inductive/deductive accordion
2) Pirouettes:Keeping your spot in a nonlinear world, developing speed and focus
3)Weaving: propositional logic through all evidence, refining and developing thesis
4)Searching for the Big 3 fallacies of ambiguity, presumption and relevance
5)Using Boolean logic and Venn diagrams to limit, expand and organize specific areas of research, especially online
6)Analysing the Persuasive Power of Images, including the homospatial imagery of collages
7)Using hypertext to make the surfer follow Your waves

Lecture and Learning Objectives: To understand the origin of claims.

First of all, we must be able to distinguish arguments/propositions/claims from other sentences such as questions (Are suicide bombers ever afraid to die?), proposals (Let's kill them.), suggestions (We recommend that you workout every day.), commands (Don't shop at Shoprite.), and exclamations (The Middle East is a bloodbath!) An argument is a group of statements, one or more of which (the premises) are claimed to provide support for, or reasons to believe, one of the others (the conclusion.) So warnings, statements of belief or opinion, loosely associated statements, reports, expository passages, illustrations, conditional statements and explanations are not arguments by themselves although they may lead to arguments. For example, a conditional statement can form the major premise of a conditional or hypothetical syllogism, but it is not an argument on its own. "If cigarette companies publish warning labels, then smokers assume the risk of smoking. Cigarette companies do publish warning labels. Therefore, smokers assume the risk of smoking."

To find out if we really have an argument we should 1) rule out typical kinds of non-arguments, 2) examine indicators such as therefore, it follows that, because, since etc. and 3) most importantly, the presence of an inferential relationship between the statements. The purpose of logic is to allow us to develop methods and techniques to distinguish good arguments from bad. Here is an example: All crimes are violations of the law. Rape is a crime. Therefore rape is a violation of the law. Symbolically, it is stated as A equals B. C equals A. Therefore C equals B. But the following is bad: Some crimes are misdemeanors. Rape is a crime. Therefore rape is a misdemeanor. This is a valid form: All A are B. All B are C. Therefore, all A are C. This is invalid: All A are B. All C are B. Therefore all A are C. For example: All cats are animals. All dogs are animals. Therefore, all cats are dogs. Remember this again when we go into testing soundness of deductive arguments.

You must be able to distinguish premises or claimed evidence (Toulmin's data or grounds) from conclusion or what is claimed to follow from the evidence. An inference is the reasoning expressed in an argument. Some arguments have more than one conclusion or more than two premises and can be described syllogistically, horizontally, vertically, in clusters, symbolically as alphabetical letters or Venn diagrams. Once we have clearly recognized the argument, it is then important to categorize it into induction or deduction. While some people often generalize and say deduction moves from general to specific, and induction from specific to general, this is not always true.

A deductive argument is one in which the premises are claimed to support the conclusion in such a way that if they are assumed true, it is impossible for the conclusion to be false, so that the conclusion follows by necessity. An inductive argument is an argument in which the premises are claimed to support the conclusion in such a way that if they are assumed true, it is improbable that the conclusion is false. Five examples of arguments that are typically deductive are arguments based on math, arguments from definition, and categorical, hypothetical or conditional, and disjunctive syllogisms. Pure math is deductive but statistics are inductive. Toulmin's method is largely inductive because his system is a rebellion against the rigors of formal logic and his 6 part chain includes a qualifier.
A categorical syllogism is a syllogism in which each statement begins with one of the words "all, no, or some. "All cats are animals. Some cats are black and white. Therefore some animals are black and white." Or use the famous Socrates syllogism "All men are mortal. Socrates is a man. Therefore Socrates is mortal." Socrates falls into the "some" category. A categorical syllogism relates two classes or categories, denoted respectively by the subject term and predicate term, and the proposition asserts that either all or part of the class denoted by the subject term is included in or excluded from the class denoted by the predicate term. We have four forms: All S are P. No S are P. Some S are P. Some S are not P. A hypothetical or conditional syllogism is a syllogism having a conditional statement for one or both premises. A disjunctive syllogism is a syllogism having a disjunctive statement for one of its premises: "Either you are with the terrorists or you are with the US and its allies. You are not with the US and its allies. Therefore you must be with the terrorists." Then try to construct a conditional syllogism to determine how such rogue states might be punished. In everyday conversation it is hard to always detect the purity of syllogistic argument. An enthymeme is an argument missing a premise or conclusion, but usually the missing element is implied. "The corporate income tax should be abolished; it encourages waste and high prices." The missing element is whatever encourages waste and high prices.

In general, inductive arguments are such that the content of the conclusion is in some way intended to "go beyond" the content of the premises. Inductive arguments include predictions about the future, arguments from analogy, inductive generalizations, (because some beans from the bag are chocolate, it is likely they are all chocolate,) arguments from authority (he could be stupid or misinformed in spite of his rep!), argument based on signs (or coexistential as the CT text says), and causal inference which isnÕt exactly the same as a conditional statement or hypothetical or conditional syllogism. In science, the discovery of a law of nature is generally considered to be inductive, while its application is deductive, proceeding from a true, valid premise.

Once we categorize arguments, we must then analyze them. We need to look at two things: the claim that evidence exists, and what kind of evidence that is, and the claim that the alleged evidence actually supports that claim. Deductive arguments are analyzed as valid or invalid, sound, or unsound. To test the validity of an argument, we must examine whether the premises support the conclusion in such away that if they are assumed true, it is impossible for the conclusion to be false. Here is an example of an invalid argument having true premises and a true conclusion: "All banks are financial organizations. Wells Fargo is a financial organization. Therefore, Wells Fargo is a bank." Any deductive argument having true premises and a false conclusion is obviously invalid. But you can have a valid argument that is unsound such as: "All wines are soft drinks. Ginger ale is a wine. Therefore ginger ale is a soft drink."

A sound argument is a deductive argument that is valid and has all true premises.

Inductive arguments are evaluated as weak/strong or cogent/uncogent. Thus, a strong inductive argument is: "This barrel contains one hundred apples. 80 apples selected at random were found to be ripe. Therefore, probably all one hundred apples are ripe." A weaker version is as follows: "This barrel contains one hundred apples. Three apples selected at random were found to be ripe. Therefore, probably all one hundred apples are ripe." Hence, strength and weakness, unlike validity and soundness, relate to degrees. A cogent argument is an inductive argument that is strong and has all true premises, the inductive analogue of a sound deductive argument. Classically it is without qualification, but Toulmin added a qualifier to his reasoning chain. However for classical cogency, the premises must not only be true but also not overlook some important factor that outweighs the given evidence and requires a different conclusion.

When you are debating in a rush, keep asking these two questions: Do the premises (data, grounds) support the conclusion (claim)? Are all the premises true? As you write research papers or debate you will develop extended arguments such as: "American Doctors who attend elderly people in nursing homes in NY State in 2002 often prescribe tranquilizers to keep these people immobile. This practice is often unwarranted, and it often impairs the health of the patients. These tranquilizers often have damaging side effects in that they accentuate the symptoms of senility, and they increase the likelihood of a dangerous fall because they produce unsteadiness in walking. Furthermore, since these medications produce immobility, they increase the risk of bedsores. Doctors at the Center for Aging and Health say that physicians who care for the elderly are simply prescribing too much medication."
Often we get snowed under in our evidence and we drown instead of resurfacing to test the premises or data and use it to back up our claim or proposition.

To review: The Toulmin model--data, warrant, backing, qualifier, reservation and claim--is more flexible and field dependent than formal logic but there are some similarities. The data function like evidence and premises on which the argument is based. The claim is the conclusion. The warrant states the reasoning used to move from the data to the claim, and it functions like an inference. The backing consists of facts or information used to support the inference made in the warrant. The qualifier modifies the claim and indicates the rational strength the arguer attributes to it. The reservation states circumstances or conditions in which the claim would not be true. The Toulmin model often presents difficulties such as misidentifying unstated warrants, confusing the data and the warrant, confusing data and backing, and applying incorrect standards to diagrams of complex and subtle arguments.

Lecture and Learning Objectives: To further your study of argumentation, comparing Aristotle to Toulmin.

In an age when we are submerged with information twenty four hours a day, the study of logic is essential-- not only traditional informal logic, but also simplified formal logic, so that we can evaluate the information we receive and create.The specific nature of web design with complementary graphics, bullets, different colors and fonts emphasizes lists and facts as opposed to linear connected thinking through traditional linguistic syntax has its own persuasive power, but like informal fallacies, it can also mislead and deceive. The hypertext links open up a multidisciplinary world which needs to be defined, limited and organized for purposes of research and understanding. Inter-, cross- and trans-disciplinary approaches can be clarified through Boolean logic and Venn diagrams.

Traditional logic first began with Aristotle (born 384 B.C.) who taught and wrote his treatises to explain his system of thinking and to refute the sophistry of emotional rhetoricians like Isocrates. A student of Plato and the son of a physician, Aristotle had a lifelong interest in empirically-based knowledge. He was a great categorizer and divided knowledge into 4 categories:1) theoretical, physics, math and theology, 2) practical, politics and ethics, 3) productive, arts, crafts and medicine, and 4) organa, or tools of methodology, logic and dialectic. He used his methodology to write the Poetics, the Physic, the Logic, the Metaphysic so that the content was multidisciplinary but his method of inquiry was similar. He divided rhetoric into three species: deliberative (future), judicial (past), and epideictic (not time bound but incite the audience to praise or blame.) Rhetoric was an indispensable part of public life in Athens and remained a potentiality, a way of constantly evaluating knowledge through dialectic, not dogmatic means. Rhetoric deals with probabilities and uses evidence and logic to convince.

Traditional Rhetoric began in a confined place and time-- Classical Athens with a specific audience of free men. Cyber rhetoric exists in perpetual time and malleable space with an unpredictable global audience. The only sure thing is that everyone is trying to sell something-- either a product or themselves or their way of doing things. However rhetoric is still judged in terms of Aristotle's qualities of correctness, clarity, ornamentation and propriety in order to prove, to delight, and to move. (Click here for synopsis and excerpts of Aristotle's work.)

The Syllogism (Deductive): All men are mortal. (the general principle)
Socrates is a man. (the case)
Therefore, Socrates is mortal. (the conclusion)
Premises must follow by NECESSITY, while in Inductive Syllogisms, they follow by PROBABILITY:
These candies come from that bag.
All the candies in that bag are chocolate.
Therefore, these candies are chocolate.

There are often fallacies in inductive syllogisms because that second clause cannot always be proven. One jumps from a case study to a general principle too quickly, as in many clinical medical trials with pharmaceutical sponsorship. As the world becomes more complex and invisible, deductive syllogisms are harder to prove.

Today we use rhetoric to sell our products and ourselves; Aristotle tried to use rhetoric to express logic which sincerely searched for the truth. Since truth in the twentieth century has been relative, to say the least, most leaders are really persuading people to worship the god of consumerism. Logical fallacies are exploited ruthlessly, as in courts of law. (Cases of O.J.Simpson, the Menendez brothers etc.)

Over the years rhetoric has become more complex. Authorities such as the Church, Hitler, Mao Tse Tung et al have had supreme persuasive abilities because of their institutional and/or personal power. "Do what I say because I say it." Rhetoric is also more directly connected to the manipulation of language.

In 1958 the British philosopher Stephen Toulmin realized that this form of argumentation is not what one encounters when listening to a public speech, arguing with a roommate about what music to listen to, or talking politics at a bar. Consequently, Toulmin developed his theory in order to explain how argumentation occurs in the natural process of everyday argument. Consequently, Toulmin wanted to explain how real people (not philosophers) argue. Although Toulmin's position on formal logic -- that formal rules of logic do not fit well with common practices of argument -- may seem obvious, one must remember the time period in which Toulmin developed his theory. Students of public speaking, rhetoric, and logic were only taught formal logic. Using a contemporary example to illustrate: Students were taught how to program a computer before they were taught how to click a mouse. When one recognizes the traditions of the time period, Toulmin's theory of argument seems even more revolutionary.

Toulmin developed his system of argumentation, in part to respond to twentieth century relativity, field specialization, and the need to attach data to every claim, especially in the areas of law and medicine. To understand the Toulmin model, think of the quck chain of reasoning you would need to make in an Emergency Room or a criminal trial, where you would move empirically from data to warrant to backing to qualifier to reservation to grounds to claim. An appropriate claim requires (a) initial grounds for the argument (b) a warrant that allows the speaker to move from grounds to claim (c) a qualifier that states the "strength" of the claim (d) reservations or rebuttals that state the exceptions to the claim. You can also reverse the order as follows:

The first element is the claim. The claim of the argument is the conclusion that someone is trying to justify in the argument.
The second element is the grounds . The grounds of an argument are the facts on which the argument is based.
The third element of the argument is the warrant. The warrant of the argument assesses whether or not the claim is legitimate based on the grounds.
The fourth element is the backing. The backing of the argument gives additional support for a warrant by answering different questions.
The modal qualifier is the fifth element of the argument. The modal qualifier indicates the strength of the leap from the data to the warrant.
The sixth and final element of the argument is the rebuttal. The rebuttal occurs when the leap from grounds to claim does not appear to be legitimate.

By creating this model for argument, Toulmin contradicted what philosophers have believed for centuries. For centuries, philosophers have believed that arguments can either be explained by relative means or by absolute means. Using either of these methods according to Toulmin is irrational to the modern argument. First of all, Toulmin claims that by using a relative method, no standards for the claims are made because the analyis of the argument is only relative to that particular argument. On the other hand, absolutism or foundationalism is irrelevant in the modern era according to Toulmin also. He claims absolutism is irrelevant for several reasons. First of if all is the fact that this absolute logic is based in mathematics and geometry. Therefore the concepts which are contained in them are field dependent. Because of this fact, Toulmin argues that there is no room for these viewpoints in other areas of logic.

Another problem that Toulmin has with absolutism has to do with the fact that answers are either correct or incorrect. Toulmin believes that there is a definite gray area in some arguments that doesn't allow for this absolutism. This gray area has also been developed quantitatively in fuzzy logic. The overall problem that Toulmin has with absolutism is that its rules are so strict that it just doesn't apply to modern reasoning.

Another important belief of Toulmin is his evolutionary theory of rationality. Toulmin believes that ideas are constantly being created. He believes that these ideas are also constantly being argued over and the person who wins the argument persuades others of his beliefs. In this way, new ideas are constantly being evolved. This concept is the most directly applicable theory to rhetoric that Toulmin has. After understanding this theory, it is no wonder why rhetoricians cherish the work of Stephen Toulmin. It is Toulmin's interpretive nature of his concepts coupled with his strong emphasis on persuasion that lend itself so well to rhetoric.. While this chain is still useful in many respects, the vast, unpredictable data of cyberspace, and its nonlinear spatial configuration and diverse global audience make the Toulmin method somewhat limited in the twenty first century. For more extensive study of Toulmin, click here.

Ideally you want to be familiar with Aristotle's more formal reasoning, Toulmin's chain of reasoning from data to claim, and contemporary theories and applications of cyberargumentation.

In cyberspace we can't rely on the pitch and resonance of our voices, the warmth of our facial expression, the impressive stature of our bodies and the expense of our wardrobe to convince people to believe us. We have to convince with the speed, frequency and prevalence of our messages and the hypnotic, timely and informative nature of our web sites.

The following is based on the book With Good Reason by S. Morris Engel.

Fallacies of Ambiguity

An ambiguity caused by a shift between two legitimate meanings of a term. "If you believe in the miracles of science, you should also believe in the miracles of the Bible."
Amphiboly: An ambiguity caused by faulty sentence structure. "SLOW CHILDREN CROSSING!"
Accent: A statement that is ambiguous because 1)its intended tone of voice is uncertain; 2) its stress is unclear; or 3) it is quoted out of context "President Clinton really knows how to wag his dog."
Hypostatization: The treatment of abstract terms like concrete ones, sometimes even the ascription of humanlike properties to them (similar to personification) "Even when he was home, the job would call to him seductively, asserting its dominance, luring him back to itembrace."
Division: The assumption that what is true of 1) the whole or 2) the group must be true of the parts or members. "This is the snobbiest eating club on campus; John, who is a member of it, must therefore be a terrible snob."
Composition: The assumption that what is true of 1) a part of a whole or 2) a member of a group must be true of the whole or the group. "By the year 3500 the human race will be extinct because we know that all of us now living will be dead."

Fallacies of Presumption

Sweeping Generalization: Applying a generalization to an exceptional case by ignoring the particularities of the case. "Since step aerobics is good for the heart, they should make it mandatory in nursing homes."
Hasty Generalization: Using insufficient evidence or an isolated example as the basis for a widely general conclusion. "I was raped by a black man, therefore all black men are potential rapists." (This fallacy is often the basis for racism.)
Bifurcation: Considering a distinction or classification exclusive or exhaustive when other alternatives exist. "You're either for me or against me!"
Begging the Question: 1) Offering, as a premise, a simple restatement of the desired conclusion. "Immortality is impossible because when we die that's it." 2) A circular argument. "I'm always right." Why/" "Because I'm your mother and I say so." "How do we know that mothers are always right?" "Because I'm your mother and..." 3) (Wider generalization) "He must be depressed: he's an existentialist!"
Question-Begging Epithets: Using strongly emotional language to force an otherwise unsupported conclusion. "Democrats are amoral, lustful, greedy politicians who don't care about foetuses and family values."
Special Pleading: Applying a double standard that is exemplified in the choice of words "Horses sweat, men perspire, women glow."
False Analogy: Reaching a conclusion by likening or comparing two significantly incomparable cases. "How can you tell your children no to take money from others when the government they live under does it all the time?"
False Cause: Inferring a causal link between two events when no such causal connection has been established. "The only reason crime went down was because Agosto became mayor." (Crime also went down in every other city.)
Slippery Slope: Assuming, unjustifiably, that a proposed step will set off an undesirable and uncontrollable chain of events. "Today it's Kevorkian, tomorrow everyone over 65 will be euthanized, and by 2001 we'll have a BRAVE NEW WORLD!"
Irrelevant Thesis: Seeking, perhaps succeeding, to prove a conclusion not at issue. "Hunting isn't cruel because it makes so many people happy and well-employed.

Fallacies of Relevance

Genetic Fallacy: Attacking a thesis, institution, or idea by condemning its background or origin. "Classical Greek philosophy is anachronistic because it was created by Dead White Males."
Abusive ad Hominem: Attacking the character of the opposing speaker rather his or her thesis. "We shouldn't elect her because she's a lesbian."
Circumstantial ad Hominem: Attacking the opposing speaker by implying vested interests.
Tu Quoque: Attempting to show that an opponent does not act in accord with his or her thesis. "How can my father tell me to stop drinking when I know he's an alcoholic?"
Poisoning the Well: Attempting to preclude discussion by attacking the credibility of an opponent. "President Clinton lied about his affair with Monica Lewinsky therefore he must be lying about social security, education and the environment as well."
Mob Appeal: Using emotion-laden terminology to sway people en masse. "Stand up for Afro-american civil rights! Acquit O.J.Simpson of murder!"
Appeal to Pity: Seeking to persuade not by presenting evidence but by arousing pity. "Don't send the Menendez brothers to the gas chamber because their father abused them."
Appeal to Authority: Seeking to persuade not by giving evidence but merely by citing an authority, in the form of an: 1) appeal to the one, 2) appeal to the many, 3) appeal to the select few, 4)appeal to tradition. "Use this mouthwash because Madonna uses it." "Everybody owns a car so buy one soon." "If you use this perfume, you will be set apart from the crowd." Marriage is sacred because it's been around for ages.
Appeal to Ignorance: Emphasizing not the evidence for a thesis, but the lack of evidence against it. "There must be an afterlife because no one has proven for sure that there isn't."
Appeal to Fear: Seeking to persuade through fear. "Fuzzy, if you don't stop meowing, Mommy won't give you any yum yum."

Thinking Critically about World Wide Web Resources
by Esther Grassian, UCLA College Library
The World Wide Web has a lot to offer, but not all sources are equally valuable or reliable. Here are some points to consider. For additional points regarding Web sites for subject disciplines, see Thinking Critically about Discipline-Based World Wide Web Resources.
Content & Evaluation
Who is the audience?
What is the purpose of the Web Page & what does it contain?
How complete and accurate are the information and the links provided?
What is the relative value of the Web site in comparison to the range of information resources available on this topic? (Note:
Be sure to check with a librarian.)
What other resources (print & non-print) are available in this area?
What are the date(s) of coverage of the site and site-specific documents?
How comprehensive is this site?
What are the link selection criteria if any?
Are the links relevant and appropriate for the site?
Is the site inward-focused, pointing outward, or both?
Is there an appropriate balance between inward-pointing links ("inlinks" i.e., within the same site)&
outward-pointing links ("outlinks" i.e., to other sites)?
Are the links comprehensive or do they just provide a sampler?
What do the links offer that is not easily available in other sources?
Are the links evaluated in any way?
Is there an appropriate range of Internet resources -- e.g., links to gophers?
Is multimedia appropriately incorporated?
How valuable is the information provided in the Web Page (intrinsic value)?
Source & Date
Who is the author or producer?
What is the authority or expertise of the individual or group that created this site?
How knowledgeable is the individual or group on the subject matter of the site?
Is the site sponsored or co-sponsored by an individual or group that has created other Web sites?
Is any sort of bias evident?
When was the Web item produced?
When was the Web item mounted?
When was the Web item last revised?
How up to date are the links?
How reliable are the links; are there blind links, or references to sites which have moved?
Is contact information for the author or producer included in the document?
Does the document follow good graphic design principles?
Do the graphics and art serve a function or are they decorative?
Do the icons clearly represent what is intended?
Does the text follow basic rules of grammar, spelling and literary composition?
Is there an element of creativity, and does it add to or detract from the document itself?
Can the text stand alone for use in line-mode (text only) Web browsers as well as multimedia browsers, or is there an option
for line-mode browsers?
Is attention paid to the needs of the disabled -- e.g., large print and graphics options; audio; alternative text for graphics?
Are links provided to Web "subject trees" or directories -- lists of subject-arranged Web sources?
How usable is the site? Can visitors get the information they need within a reasonable number of links (preferably 3 or fewer
Is appropriate interactivity available?
When it is necessary to send confidential information out over the Internet, is encryption (i.e., a secure coding system)
available? How secure is it?
Are there links to search engines or is a search engine attached to (embedded in) the Web site?

MLA Documentation: Use parenthetical documentation (23) after the quotes: Descartes wrote "I think therefore I am." (23) Then in the bibliography, (make sure it is alphabetized) put in full publication or production details.
Tannen, Deborah. The Argument Culture: Moving from Debate to Dialogue. New York: Random, 1998.
Kaplan, Robert D. "History Moving North." Atlantic Monthly Feb. 1997: 21+.
Cheuse, Alan. "Narrative Painting and Pictorial Fiction." Antioch Review 55 (1997): 277-91.
France, Peter. "His Own Biggest Hero." Rev of Victor Hugo, by Graham Robb. New York Times Book Review 15 Jan. 1998:7.
Spanoudis, Steve, Bob Blair, and Nelson Miller. Poets' Corner. 7 June 1999. 13 June 1999 <http:www.geocities.com/~spanoudi/poems>.
Blue Note Records . 9 June 1999. Blue Note Records. 9 June 1999 <http:www.bluenote.com>.
Coontz, Stephanie. "Family Myths, Family Realities." Salon 12 Dec. 1997. 3 Feb.2000 <http://www.salonmagazine.com/mwt/teature/1997/12/23coontz.html>.
Schubert, Josephine. "Re: Culture Shock." E-mail to the author. 14 Mar. 2000.
The English Patient. dir. Anthony Minghella. Perf. Ralph Fiennes, Juliette Binoche, Willem Dafoe, and Kristin Scott Thomas. Miramax, 1996.
TV: Primates . Wild Discovery. Discovery Channel. 23 Mar. 1998.

Thesis as Steering Wheel for your Research

To avoid datasmog, you must have a steering wheel to drive your car through the data. This is the purpose of the thesis. When students are askedwhat their thesis is, they usually cite a descriptive clause as an answer: "My thesis is how we are addicted to the internet" or "My thesis is abouthow Rastas are different" or "My thesis is about Dorian Gray" or "My thesis is about how prisoners are denied a true home." These are topics, not theses. A thesis should be a complete sentence that contains a question, a statement and a dilemma that is big enough to grow throughout your paper and specific enough to limit your study to avoid excessive generalization. Some of you do have a thesis but it does not develop throughout the paper. A good thesis must weave itself around your evidence, making everything relevant. To do this, you must keep refining your thesis.

Think of a thesis as a long complete sentence: the noun, object and verb describe an action that contains the question and statement designed to solve the problem; the "or" encompasses the dilemma-- the juxtaposition of thesis and antithesis; and the subordinate clauses qualify the study to mitigate the logical fallacies incurred from too much generalization. For example: Should NYU Writing Workshop II Adjunct Professors in 2004 set high standards, seek to develop intellectual potential and demand rigorous, original work thereby risking bad evaluations, poor attendance, negative transferences to the professor, frustration, complaints to administration, and acting out or should they dumb down and pander to their adult degree students, reduce the complexity and ambiguity of the work and sell their courses like ice cream in order to be as popular as all the other products
of a mass culture? Make sure your thesis is not a question that can be irrevocably answered "yes."

In 2004 very few questions can be answered that way. Even the statement "all men are mortal" can be contested with cloning. Do not pick a thesis and topic that is entirely materialistic. That is the danger and challenge of the home sweet home sweet. Home must be a metaphor, a symbol for more abstract intellectual issues. You are doing academic writing, not business writing or journalism, even though you may be doing timely
interviews and field trips. Your thesis should contain words that are ideas that need defining, that must be interpreted.

Part of your introduction involves defining. In the example, "intellectual potential," "negative transferences," "rigorous, original work" and other phrases must be defined according to what the researcher means. The English language has a huge somewhat vague vocabulary and has been spoken by so many people for so many years in so many places that defining is essential. You must also look at the implications of the sentence as an action of a subject performed on an object by a verb. Professors are doing something to students and students are doing something to professors.

This complete sentence implies a teaching problem. Students come to a course that demands painful intellectual growth. Adult degree students may not have the time, the background, the aptitude nor the inclination to work as hard as they should. That is the problem. The researcher offers two hypothetical solutions, preferably a thesis and an antithesis in order to clarify the argument, although there are usually more than two solutions.

At the end of the research a compromise, an entirely different solution, or a question could be the new answer. However, working with a hypothesis allows you to explore your problem with a sharp focus, build your arguments and organize your evidence. The adjectives and subordinate clauses of the sentence qualify the study. You must use adjectives to be specific: for example, we are talking about NYU WWII adjunct professors in 1995, not any writing professor anywhere at any time. Most of you forget dates, places and demographics. This does not mean you could not have a historical or conceptual discussion in your paper that encompasses different times and places in order to emphasize the importance of the problem; it just means that your specific research is confined to a specific place, time and group of people.

It would therefore be possible to have a discussion about the theory and history of education, citing Aristotle, Locke, Rousseau, Dewey, contemporary cognitive scientists in order to give your problem depth and perspective. However, when you open up like that you must choose only the aspects of history and theory that relate to your thesis, that is what develops the most successful writing class. The purpose of limiting a study is not just to avoid fallacies but also to develop originality. In this age of recombinant and plagiarized internet culture, originality is increasingly important. We are not interested in how well you paraphrase and regurgitate the work of others-- we want to read about your original contribution to the field through experimental research in the social sciences, which could be qualitative or quantitative, empirical or more theorietical, or fresh interpretations of written material through close textual analysis. Therefore limit your study so that you can control the data, all the while being open to new knowledge and possibilities. In the example given, the researcher will obviously observe writing classes, interview students and professors, and record changes over a period of time, let's say 1995 to 2001.

You may also want to compare and contrast two or more studies, people, places, works of literature etc. in order to clarify and distinguish characteristics. In scientific drug studies researchers give one group the drug, another group the placebo and then they compare results. Many literary critics compare and contrast different works of literature. You may compare and contrast two or more nursing homes, prisons, hospitals. In fact it is best if you do so. Likewise in the example, it would be more effective to compare writing classes in 2004 with writing classes in 1980 or writing classes in another country, or follow the same professor for the next 6 years until 2010 which is what we will do in the example, all the while being solicitous of time, place and demographic limitations. Do not make the mistake of thinking that the comparison/contrast is the thesis however. For example, many literature majors say "My thesis is about how Keats differs from Shelley." This may be a good start but it is purely descriptive; it leads to a grocery list of categories, not the development of an argument with thesis and antithesis. If you don't control the comparison and contrast with a thesis, you will lose your focus as you collect more and more information. Remember that a thesis is a ribbon that must be wrapped around all your presents.