Yet the distinction between the two main classes is a real one, and if one has never thought it out, one may go at an argument with a blurred notion of what he is attempting to do. Since argument after school and college is an eminently practical matter, vagueness of aim is risky. It is the man who sees exactly what he is trying to do, and knows exactly what he can accomplish, who is likely to make his point. The chief value of writing arguments for practice is in cultivating a keen eye for the essential. To write a good argument means, as we shall see, that the student shall first conscientiously take the question, apart so as to know exactly the issues involved and the unavoidable points of difference, and then after searching the sources for information, he shall scrutinize the facts and the reasoning both on his own side and on the other. If he does this work without shirking the hard thinking he will get an illuminating perception of the obscurities and ambiguities which lurk in words, and will come to see that clear reasoning is almost wholly a matter of sharper discrimination for unobserved distinctions.
1. Find an example which might be thought of either as an argument or an exposition, and explain why you think it one or the other.
2. Find examples in current magazines or newspapers of an argument in which conviction is the chief element, and one in which persuasion counts most.
3. Give three examples from your talk within the last week of a discussion which was not argument as we use the term here.
4. Show how, in the case of some current subject of discussion, the arguments would differ in substance and tone for three possible audiences.
5. Find three examples each of questions of fact and questions of policy from current newspapers or magazines.
6. Find three examples of questions of fact in law cases, not more than one of them from a criminal case.
7. Find three examples of questions of fact in history or literature.
8. Find three questions of a large state of affairs from current political discussions. 9. Find three examples of questions of fact in science.
10. Find from the history of the last fifty years three examples of questions which turned on moral right.
11. Give three examples of questions of expediency which you have heard argued within the last week.
12. Give an example from recent decisions of the courts which seems to you to have turned on a question of policy.
13. Give two examples of questions of aesthetic taste which you have recently heard argued.
14. In an actual case which has been or which might be argued, show how both classes of argument and more than one of the types within them enter naturally into the discussion.
15. Name three subjects which you have lately discussed which would not be profitable subjects for a formal argument.