Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Written vs. Oral argument

Written and oral arguments are obviously used everyday as a means of communication, persuasion, information, etc. However, the content of the arguement that is being made often influences the type of argument that should be used. Then, once you know whether a written or verbal argument is more appropriate, you have to take into consideration the different elements important to each one, and how to make use of those elements for an effective argument.

In a verbal argument, the most important thing is your audience. You have a chance to read them, get feedback, and clarify anything that is misinterpreted. You can also use their imput to advance your argument. Personal experience can be very effective in this type of argument, so using pathos is a good way to present your evidence. It is sincere, and can be very persuasive to the audience, as long as sound support is given as well. Also, the presentation of the argument can greatly effect the outcome. The tone the speaker uses and any gestures that are used are important in supporting the argument because it proves that the speaker cares about what they are arguing for or about.

In written argument, the writer no longer has to worry about its presentation in terms of gestures or such. They also do not have the opportunity to work off of the audience by reading their reactions and hearing their feedback. Instead, the writer must consider all angles and consider the audince beforehand. There are often times unintended consequences of the argument due to underlying assumptions that do not hold true for some of the readers. Thus, many more assumptions of the audience must be made by a writer than a speaker. Also, in written argument, logos and ethos tend to be more useful in creating an effective argument. Readers generally look for the development of a written argument in terms of whether or not there is support for the claims being made.

Although there are differences in written and verbal argument, there are several elements that must be present in both to yield a quality argument. For example, there must be organization and a well-thought-out skeleton for any presentation to be understandable, convincing, and overall successful. Also, it must be logical. Whether the arguer chooses to use logos, pathos, or ethos to present their case, it must make sense to the audience. The evidence to support the claims must be strong and relevant to the argument.

All in all, I believe that written and oral argument are very similar in terms of the backbone of the argument -- the organization, and its logic. They only differ in the way it is presented based on the audience.

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