This week’s readings look at the concept of a concession or “middle ground” that writers might look for when building an argument. Often this is needed because the evidence for one side is not overwhelming or because people on the two sides of a debate hold different values. We focus on the use of logical evidence (logos) in college papers, but it’s important to consider pathos also, that is, the values and emotions related to our topics. In this discussion, we’ll consider this aspect.
Directions for the Discussion Question Response
In a few sentences, remind us of the topic you’ve chosen for your Problem/Solution Research Paper and what your working thesis is. Next, state who your audience will be. Please note: your audience should be a focused group that has clear authority to implement your proposed change, Writing to “every voter” or “all Americans” does not work since there is no way of determining the concerns and values of this large a group. Also, your audience must be people who are either neutral or likely to be opposed to the change you will be proposing since you are attempting to persuade them. If the audience already favors your thesis, then you’re cheerleading, not persuading. Then, in two or more paragraphs, do an analysis of the audience’s values in relation to the topic. How strong will they be, and will you need to make concessions for them?
Example of a Discussion Question Response
I’ll use an example of a problem with a city.
Thesis: The United States should follow the lead of other countries and install cameras in most public places, such as on all street lamps. The evidence shows that the use of these cameras does not cut down on the number of crimes committed initially but it does significantly increase the chances of the police being able to catch those who commit the crimes much more efficiently. It thus cuts down on the costs of policing, which makes the camera use pay for itself. With time, the awareness of the cameras and ability to find those who commit crimes should reduce overall crime.
Audience: The City Council of a major city, who would have to allocate the funds for this project. As elected officials, they have to take their opinions of the city residents into account. There are likely to be two competing values.
One is the value of public safety. People want to feel safe, and they want to know that their possessions are reasonably secure. People also feel a resentment against those who commit crimes and get away with it.
On the other hand, people value their privacy quite a bit. There are likely to be fears about what the police might do with the recordings. People may also fear the system being hacked, with unknown others being able to track any individual’s movements in public places.
Given the value of privacy, the argument may have to build in reassurances about how the data will be stored and later destroyed, how the system will be protected from hacking, and what civil liberties will be reinforced.
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