Lesson: Generating Points for the Argument Essay - II

Comment on Generating Points for the Argument Essay - II

Could I take umbrage with the assumption that has to work in either color or black-and-white? With the rise of digital photography, this entire debate is pointless, as a photographer can change between black-and-white at will. I feel that this makes the entire argument invalid.
In general, am I allowed to disagree with the conclusion as a whole, or do I have to the accept the conclusion in order to find the flaws in the argument?
greenlight-admin's picture

Your sole objective is to critique the strength of the argument. By "strength" we mean how well the conclusion follows from the premises. Here, the conclusion is that photographers working in color have an advantage over those working in black-and-white. So, noting the ease with which we can change between the two does not address the conclusion (aside: even before digital photography, a photographer could have 1 camera for B&W and 1 camera for color :-)

Would "most" qualify as an ambiguous word?
greenlight-admin's picture

Most means "more than half," so it COULD be considered ambiguous, depending on the point you're trying to make.

How would you use this in your analysis?

"Most" is more than half means “ it’s successful, it’s impactful. So wouldn’t it strengthen argument?
greenlight-admin's picture

The argument's author says "most portrait studios use more color film than black-and-white film."

Does this necessarily strengthen the author's argument that that photographers working in color have an advantage over those working in black-and-white?

Maybe, maybe not. Your job is to critique whether it does, indeed, strengthen the argument.

Keep in mind that our goal is to critique the argument, not agree with it :-)

Does that help?


Hi Brent, I'm not sure to what extent I can question the given premises. Consider the following examples.

1. To reverse a decline in listener numbers, our owners have decided that WWAC must change from its current rock-music format. The decline has occurred despite population growth in our listening area, but that growth has resulted mainly from people moving here after their retirement.

Can I question the statement that 'growth has resulted mainly from people moving here after their retirement', or is it out of my scope? How do I know?

2. Fifteen years ago, Omega University implemented a new procedure that encouraged students to evaluate the teaching effectiveness of all their professors. Since that time, Omega professors have begun to assign higher grades in their classes, and overall student grade averages at Omega have risen by 30 percent. Potential employers, looking at this dramatic rise in grades, believe that grades at Omega are inflated and do not accurately reflect student achievement; as a result, Omega graduates have not been as successful at getting jobs as have graduates from nearby Alpha University.

This is an evidence question. Can I ask for the evidence that potential employers are not happy with the increase in grade?

greenlight-admin's picture

Hi Safat,

1) I'm not sure what you would question about the statement that "growth has resulted mainly from people moving here after their retirement"
This is a premise, and we have to assume that premises are true.
Our primary goal here is to critique the argument based on its ability to tie in premises with the conclusion.
In other words, does the conclusion follow from the premises.

PREMISE: Despite increase in local population, WWAC is losing listeners
PREMISE: Population increase mainly from incoming retirees
CONCLUSION: WWAC must change from its current rock-music format.
IMPLIED CONCLUSION: Changing formats will help increase listeners.

This argument is actually better than most arguments, so it will be harder to critique.
This main idea here is that, given the influx of retirees, WWAC should change its rock-music format.

One weakness of this argument is that it doesn't specify what the new format should be.
It just assumes that ANY format change will be better.
Would a hip hop format do better? What about a disco format?

Another weakness is that there might be other reasons for the decline in listeners.
Perhaps everyone is listening to online music, or to their iPods, or they just watch more TV, etc

2) I'm not sure how that will help.
We already know that potential employers think the grades at Omega are somewhat useless in determining student achievement.
So, it already seems like the potential employers are not happy with the grade increases.

That said, perhaps I'm not entirely sure how you would frame that question in your essay.
Can you tell me how that might look?


Thanks for the reply, Brent.

About (2),
As this is an evidence question, should they not be required to provide evidence that the potential employers disapprove of the grade increase, maybe citing some comment or statistical data? And even if they disapprove of the increase, to what extent do they disapprove? Do they actually think that the education quality has actually become worse than before, or that the increase in the grade doesn't reflect any improvement on the learning?

There's this ambiguity going on, as it seems to me.
greenlight-admin's picture

Sorry, I didn't realize that the Omega University essay prompt reads as follows:

"Write a response in which you discuss what specific evidence is needed to evaluate the argument and explain how the evidence would weaken or strengthen the argument."

Also, you forgot to include the conclusion, which is: "To enable its graduates to secure better jobs, Omega University should terminate student evaluation of professors."

The question you must address in your critique is: How well does the conclusion follow from the premises?

That is, given all of the information, is it reasonable to make the conclusion that: to enable its graduates to secure better jobs, Omega University should terminate student evaluation of professors?

If you want to ask for more information about the extent to which the employers disapprove, then you have to tie it into how this new information will affect the author's conclusion. If you can do that, then it's a valid addition to your essay.


Thanks, it's clear now.

Hi Brent, can we assume that in Test day, 1st essay is always Issue and 2nd essay is Argument essay? As I find that the instructins of both essays can be confusing or difficult to differentiate clearly? Thanks Brent
greenlight-admin's picture

I believe the first essay will be random (i.e., either the argument essay or the issue essay)

Oh dear...noted thanks Brent.
Will the writing score 0 if accidnetally ended up writing Issue as Argument or vice versa?
greenlight-admin's picture

If you don't address what the essay prompt asks you to address, then you will get zero.

noted thanks Brent.

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