Critique of Argument

Critique of Argument

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The purpose of the critique of argument is to convince the reader that the article is or is not successful as an argument by examining the criteria for good argumentation, which can be reduced to logos, ethos, and pathos. The writer of a critique may show that the article uses evidence, logical discourse, audience awareness, and emotion in appropriate ways; or, the writer may convince the reader that the article is not a successful argument by showing that the evidence is faulty (through your own research), that the logic is fallacious, that the writer is biased or has a conflict of interest, and/or that the writer uses emotional appeals in manipulative or unbalanced ways. It is important to i ncorporate data, inferences, evidence and reasoning to support your position.

As you saw in the last unit, when writing a critique, it is often best to begin with the body paragraphs. Each body paragraph should be focused on one of the criteria for a good argument:

Organize the paragraph by “____ does/does not meet _____ criteria.” For instance, an article attributing the cause of childhood obesity to fast food restaurants might succeed in meeting one of the criteria (showing that the problem exists), but fail in meeting another of the criteria (showing that fast food is the logical cause of the problem).

Discuss HOW the writer succeeds/fails/has mixed results in this particular area, and then prove that your assessment is valid by referring to specific passages and analyzing why these passages mean what you say they mean. To use the same example, the writer might have succeeded in providing evidence by using statistics from the CDC and WHO to document the rise in rates of obesity in children, but used fallacious reasoning by failing to take into consideration other causes of childhood obesity (sedentary lifestyle, genetic, and metabolic factors).

Once you have gone through these steps for all of the criteria that indicate proper argumentation, construct a thesis that reflects your overall findings. “Article X is a success/a failure/only a limited success because it achieves/fails to achieve/only partly achieves its aim to _____.”

White, J. B. (2008, September 15). Why the gasoline engine isn’t going away any time soon. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from

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