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- Practical Argumentation - 4/43 -
Election of Senators; Chinese exclusion; woman suffrage; temperance; compulsory manual training; the honor system; compulsory education; vivisection; reciprocity; an enlarged army; the educational voting test; strikes; bounties and subsidies; capital punishment; Hamlet's insanity; municipal government; permanent copyright; athletics; civil service; military training; Panama canal; jury system; foreign acquisitions; Monroe Doctrine; forest reserves; protective tariff.
B. Criticise the following propositions:--
1. The existence and attributes of the Supreme Being can be proved without the aid of divine revelation.
2. More money is spent for luxuries than for necessities.
3. The growth of large fortunes should be checked by a graduated income tax and an inheritance tax.
4. The Monroe Doctrine should receive the support of every American.
5. Hard work is the secret of success.
6. Law is a better profession than medicine.
7. College football should be abolished and lacrosse adopted in its place.
8. Newspapers exert a powerful influence on modern politics.
9. The United States postal system should be under the control of the Federal government.
10. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.
11. Immigration is detrimental to the United States.
12. President ----'s foreign policy should be upheld.
13. Canada should not be annexed to the United States.
14. The cruel banishment of the Acadians was unjust.
15. Beauty has practical uses.
16. The democratic policy of government would be for the best interests of the Philippines.
17. Dickens' novels, which are superior to Scott's, effected reforms.
18. An unconstitutional income tax should not be levied.
19. A majority vote of a jury should not convict or acquit.
20. Edison is a great inventor.
Every complete argument consists of three parts: introduction, discussion, and conclusion. Each of these divisions has definite and specific duties to perform. The work of the introduction is threefold: (1) to conciliate the audience; (2) to explain the subject; and (3) to outline the discussion. As the conciliation of the audience is accomplished by an appeal to the emotions rather than to the reason, it is properly classified under persuasion. Explaining the proposition and outlining the discussion are of an expository nature and will be discussed under the head of conviction.
As has been stated in a previous chapter, the amount of persuasion to be used in any piece of argumentative work depends entirely upon the attending circumstances. The subject, audience, author, occasion, and purpose of the effort must be taken into consideration. But whether the amount used be great or small, practically every argument should begin with conciliation. The conciliation of the _audience_--the word audience is used throughout this book to designate both hearers and readers--consists of gaining the good will of those to be convinced, of arousing their interest, and of rendering them open to conviction. No argument can be expected to attain any considerable degree of success so long as anything about its author, or anything in the subject itself, is peculiarly disagreeable to the people it is designed to affect. If the ill will remains too great, it is not likely that the argument will ever reach those for whom it is intended, much less produce the desired result. In addressing Southern sympathizers at Liverpool, during the Civil War, Beecher had to fight even for a hearing. The speech of an unpopular Senator frequently empties the Senate chamber. Men of one political belief often refuse to read the publications of the opposite party. Obviously, the first duty of the introduction is to gain the approval of the audience. In the next place, interest must be aroused. Active dislike is less frequently encountered than indifference. How many times sermons, lectures, books have failed in their object just because no one took any interest in them! There was no opposition, no hostility; every one wished the cause well; and yet the effort failed to meet with any attention or response. The argument did not arouse interest--and interest is a prime cause of attention and of action. In the third place, the conciliatory part of the introduction should induce the audience to assume an unbiased, judicial attitude, ready to decide the question according to the strength of the proof. This result is not always easy of attainment. Longstanding beliefs, prejudice, stubbornness must be overcome, and a desire for the truth substituted for everything else. All this is frequently difficult, but unless an arguer can gain the good will of the people addressed, arouse their interest, and render them willing to be convinced, no amount of reasoning is likely to produce much effect.
Now the question arises, How is it possible to conciliate the audience? To this query there is no answer that will positively guarantee success. The arguer must always study his audience and suit his discourse to the occasion. What means success in one instance may bring failure in another. The secret of the whole matter is adaptability. Humor, gravity, pathos, even defiance may at times be used to advantage. It is not always possible, however, for the orator or writer to know beforehand just the kind of people he is to address. In this case it is usually best for him to follow out a few well established principles that most arguers have found to be of benefit.
MODESTY. Modesty in word and action is indispensable to one who would gain the friendship of his audience. Anything that savors of egotism at once creates a feeling of enmity. No one can endure another's consciousness of superiority even though the superiority be real. An appearance of haughtiness, self-esteem, condescension, intolerance of inferiors, or a desire for personal glory will at once raise barriers of dislike. On the other hand, modesty should never be carried so far as to become affectation; that attitude is equally despicable. Personal unobtrusiveness should exist without being conspicuous. _The arguer should always take the attitude that the cause he is upholding is greater than its advocate_.
In the following quotations, compare the overbearing arrogance of Burke's introduction with the simple modesty of Proctor's:--
Mr. Speaker, I rise under some embarrassment occasioned by a feeling of delicacy toward one-half of the house, and of sovereign contempt for the other half. [Footnote: Edmund Burke, House of Commons, March 22, 1775.]
Mr. President, more importance seems to be attached by others to my recent visit to Cuba than I had given it, and it has been suggested that I make a public statement of what I saw and how the situation impressed me. This I do on account of the public interest in all that concerns Cuba, and to correct some inaccuracies that have, not unnaturally, appeared in reported interviews with me. [Footnote: Redfield Proctor, United States Senate, March 17, 1898.]
FAIRNESS. Few things will assist an arguer more in securing a respectful hearing from those who do not agree with him, but whom he would convince, than the quality of fairness. The arguer should take the position of one seeking the truth regardless of what it may be. If he wishes others to look at the question from his standpoint, he will have to show that he is willing to consider the question from their point of view. Everything' in the shape of prejudice, everything which would tend to indicate that he had formed conclusions prior to his investigation, he must carefully avoid.
In this connection consider the following:--
I very much regret that it should have been thought necessary to suggest to you that I am brought here to "hurry you against the law and beyond the evidence." I hope I have too much regard for justice, and too much respect for my own character, to attempt either; and were I to make such attempt, I am sure that in this court nothing can be carried against the law, and that gentlemen, intelligent and just as you are, are not, by any power, to be hurried beyond the evidence. Though I could well have wished to shun this occasion, I have not felt at liberty to withhold my professional assistance, when it is supposed that I may be in some degree useful in investigating and discovering the truth respecting this most extraordinary murder. It has seemed to be a duty incumbent on me, as on every other citizen, to do my best and my utmost to bring to light the perpetrators of this crime. Against the prisoner at the bar, as an individual, I cannot have the slightest prejudice. I would not do him the smallest injury or injustice. But I do not affect to be indifferent to the discovery and the punishment of this deep guilt. I cheerfully share in the opprobrium, how great so ever it may be, which is cast on those who feel and manifest an anxious concern that all who had a part in planning, or a hand in executing, this deed of midnight assassination, may be brought to answer for their enormous crime at the bar of public justice. [Footnote: Works of Daniel Webster, Vol. VI, p. 51. Little, Brown & Co., Boston, 1857.]
SINCERITY. Another quality of paramount importance to the arguer is sincerity. This he must really possess if he is to be eminently successful. To feign it is almost impossible; some word or expression, some gesture or inflection of the voice, the very attitude of the insincere arguer will betray his real feelings. If he tries to arouse an emotion that he himself does not feel, his affectation will be apparent and his effort a failure. There are few things that an audience resents more than being tricked into an expression of feeling. If they even mistrust that a speaker is trying to deceive them, that he is arguing merely for personal gain or reputation and has no other interest in the case, no desire to establish the truth, they will not only withhold their confidence, but will also become prejudiced against him. It is usually inviting disaster to champion a
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