The Making of Arguments eBook

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

Notebook.  Enter the exact proposition which you are to argue.

Illustration.  Wytown should adopt the commission form of government, in the form now in practice at Des Moines, Iowa.


1.  Make three arguable propositions on the subject, “Entrance examinations for college.”

2.  Criticize the following propositions and amend them, if necessary, so that they might be argued with profit: 

    a.  Freshmen should be required to keep reasonable hours.

    b.  The honor system should be introduced everywhere.

    c.  This city should do more for its boys.

    d.  The street railway companies in this city should be better

    e.  The amateur rules for college athletes are too stringent.

    f.  Intercollegiate football is beneficial.

19.  Definition of Terms.  Making a proposition definite is chiefly a process of defining terms which are found in it; but when these are defined you may still in your argument use others which also need definition.  In general the definition of terms, whether in the proposition or not, implies finding out just what a term means for the present purpose.  Almost every common word is used for some variety of purposes.  “Commission,” for example, even within the field of government, has two very different meanings: 

As applied to state and national administration, the term “commission government” is used in connection with the growing practice of delegating to appointed administrative boards or commissions—­the Interstate Commerce Commission, state railroad commissions, tax commissions, boards of control, etc.—­the administration of certain special or specified executive functions ...From the standpoint of organization, then, “commission government,” as applied to the state, connotes decentralization, the delegation and division of authority and responsibility, and the disintegration of popular control ...As applied to city administration, however, commission government has a very different meaning.  In striking contrast to its use in connection with the state, it is used to designate the most concentrated and centralized type of organization which has yet appeared in the annals of representative municipal history.  Under so-called commission government for cities, the entire administration of the city’s affairs is placed in the hands of a small board or council—­“commission”—­elected at large and responsible directly to the electorate for the government of the city.[7]

Furthermore, even the term “commission government for cities” is not wholly definite, for there are already several recognized types of such government, such as the Galveston type, the Des Moines type, and recent modifications of these.  If you are making an argument for introducing a commission government, therefore, you must go still further with your definitions, and specify the distinguishing features of the particular plan which you are urging on the voters, as is done in the definition on page 59.  In other words, you must make exactly clear the meaning of the term for the present case.

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The Making of Arguments from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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