The Making of Arguments eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 344 pages of information about The Making of Arguments.

Illustration.  In the argument for the introduction of the commission form of government into Wytown the burden of proof is on the affirmative to show that the Des Moines plan of city government will cure the evils of the present government of Wytown.  With the audience assumed (see p. 43), there is no burden of proof on the affirmative to establish the need of a change.


1.  In three subjects which you might choose for an argument show where the burden of proof would lie.

2.  In the case of one of these arguments show how the burden of proof might change with the argument.

17.  The Brief.  When you have settled these preliminary questions of the audience you wish to win over to your view, and of the way their prepossessions and knowledge of the subject will affect your responsibilities for the burden of proof, you are ready to begin work on the brief, as the plan for an argument is called.  This brief it is better to think of as a statement of the logical framework of the argument, which you are constructing for the purpose of clearing up your own mind on the subject, and especially to help you to see how you can most effectively arrange your material.  It differs from the usual brief in a case at law in that the latter is ordinarily a series of compact statements of legal principles, each supported by a list of cases already decided which bear on that principle.  The brief you will be making now will consist of an introduction, which states whatever facts and principles are necessary to an understanding of the brief, and the brief itself, which consists of a series of propositions, each supporting your main contention, and each in turn supported by others, which again may each be supported by another series.  Such an analysis will thoroughly display the processes of your reasoning, and enable you to criticize them step by step for soundness and coerciveness.

I shall first explain the several steps which go to the making of the introduction to the brief; and then come to the making of the brief itself.

18.  The Proposition.  The first step in making the introduction to your brief is to formulate the question or proposition (the two terms are interchangeable in practice).  Until you have crystallized your view of the subject into a proposition you have nothing to argue about.  “Commission form of government” is a subject, but it is not arguable, for it gives you no hold either for affirming or denying.  “Commission government should be adopted in Wytown,” or “Commission government has improved political conditions in Des Moines,” are both propositions which are arguable (though not yet specific enough), for it is possible to maintain either the affirmative or the negative of either of them.

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The Making of Arguments from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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