We began class this week with students presenting their homework - collaborative persuasive essays which required use of analogy. The students did a solid job crafting hooks, writing clear thesis statements and introductions, and organizing supporting points for their arguments. We heard a variety of interesting analogies:
We will hear the essay from the final team of students next week.
We moved on to discussing informal fallacies and how to identify them. An informal fallacy is an argument that is usually psychologically persuasive but logically weak. It is like a “counterfeit” argument - a type of argument that may seem to be correct but which proves on closer examination to be invalid and misleading. Students should learn to recognize these fallacies and avoid using them in their writing and debate. [We explored informal fallacies of definition in a previous class (2/17/14)].
Emotional appeals often constitute the source of persuasion in an informal fallacy. We term these fallacies as "informal" because they are most often found in the everyday exchanges of ideas, such as newspaper editorials, letters to the editor, political speeches, advertisements, conversational disagreements between people on social networking sites and Internet discussion boards, and so on.
I provided the students a handout with definitions and examples of some of the most common informal fallacies. The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy provides a more thorough list of fallacies for those interested in exploring the topic further.
I met individually with students to provide my comments and suggestions for improving their persuasive essay drafts. Students should continue to work on finalizing their drafts and continue to email me the updated essays. All are working at their own pace and at various stages of completion.
In addition to continuing work on the individual persuasive essays, students should collaborate with their partners to write the infomercial they began in class. Come next week prepared to put the pieces together and make your presentation to the class. Don't forget to bring your product prop and your list of fallacies used in the commercial!
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