Definition: First Level of Argumentation To clarify what the subject is (to define a word, to explain a concept, to report evidence) Topic: What is the ideal society? Readings: from Current Issues and Enduring Questions More, 632-42, Machiavelli, 643-51, Jefferson 651-54, Le Guin, 666-70, Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” online Assignment: Take a stand on what constitutes your ideal society or utopia, giving evidence to support your position. Prewriting: List characteristics of an ideal society. Length: Write approximately 750 words Audience: college peers The peer critique may be found by linking here. Due Dates: Rough draft Check the Schedule.; Final draft: Check the Schedule. To define the concept: See types of evidence in Classical Rhetoric. Definition is one of Aristotle’s topoi. Select from among the strategies for defining terms including: denotative definition (distinguish a thing by its class and specific difference) etymological definition (tracing the original meanings to illuminate the current use) stipulation (meaning given to new concept or invented term for discussion and investigation) negation (It is not X) examples structure personal history cultural context values behavior Steps in Writing a Definition Essay 1.Define a vague and ambiguous term or one for which you have personal observations. 2. Decide on the thesis–the claim or point of view you want to take about the term you are defining. 3. Begin by consulting the dictionary for the conventional definition. Make clear whether you want to elaborate on the dictionary definition or take issue with it because it seems misleading or inadequate. Although you consult the dictionary, move away from saying, “According to Webster’s . . . .” 4. Distinguish wherever possible between the term you are defining and other terms with which it might be confused. 5. Use several of the strategies for developing an extended definition. However, one method might suffice to narrow and refine the definition. 6. Arrange your supporting material in order that gives emphasis to the most important ideas. (least to most or most to least). from Annette T. Rottenberg. The Structure of Argument. New York: St. Martin’s, 1994: 74.
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