This is it.

If you think that arguments are unpleasant encounters with another person or if you have been told by someone in authority, “Don’t argue with me!” then you may have a very negative idea about arguments and their purposes. But a very different view of arguments has been an important subject of discussion for years in the fields of philosophy, rhetoric, and composition studies. Argument, in the view of one prominent theorist, Douglas Walton, can be a: Quarrel: a thoroughly unpleasant conversation with the purpose of verbally attacking the other person;Debate: a presentation of different points of view where the object is to influence the audience to accept your view;Critical Discussion: cool, rational, non-emotional discussion meant to resolve an issue;Forensic argument: rule-bound argument meant to persuade a judge or jury; andInquiry: a step-by-step process where the purpose is to reveal the truth about some issue or event. 

The presentation of reasonable arguments is, according to the lead author of Writer’s Help, Diana Hacker, a form of “critical discussion.” In presenting this form of argument, Hacker has written that “Your aim is to explain your understanding of the truth about a subject or to propose the best solution available for solving a problem — without being needlessly combative. In constructing your argument, you join a conversation with other writers and readers. Your aim is to convince readers to reconsider their opinions by offering new reasons to question an old viewpoint.”If this sounds like what you are being asked to do in this week’s assignment and in the Final Research Report — you’re right, it is! In this Conference, present an argument that you have been involved in that required you to “construct a reasonable argument.”  How did you consider the issue’s social and intellectual contexts? How did you establish credibility? What was your thesis or main point? How did you back it up with specific evidence? How did you deal with objections or opposing arguments? How did you try to build common ground? All of you have done this (as have I) at one time or another, so this is not really entirely new territory!

The argument that most comes to mind is one I had with my mom very recently. My mother separated from my father about 18 months ago, and recently asked me to meet her new boyfriend. The problem I have with that is that she is still not divorced. We had a pretty good argument regarding whether or not she should even be seeing someone will not finishing the first relationship that she started. I established credibility to back my argument through the way I was raised by her. I was raised in a Christian home with Christian values and ethics. I was taught to obey certain things, and among them was not to commit adultery. My argument was that she is now doing the very thing that she once taught me not to do. I backed it up with biblical evidence where I was taught when I was young and she didn’t agree with me. It was difficult having her argue a point that she once taught me. Her defense was not based on her own values and morals, but was based in happiness. She wants her own happiness more than anything else, this is how she justified the actions she was now having. I tried to build common ground by bringing up the past and referencing what once was our family, which was easy because she is my mom. It however didn’t really get me anywhere because she has been separate for so long that she has almost completely moved on with her life. After having this argument over a month ago she still hasn’t talked to me. There wasn’t exactly a resolution to the argument, but this is a recent argument I had that fit the parameters of this discussion. I am firm in my argument, and don’t want to meet any new significant others until she has taken care of her first relationship.