In each of the following arguments,
a different reason is given in answer to a question at issue:
"Why shouldn't we let little Jimmy play with power tools?"
Look at each example and describe what assumptions the writer
makes about the audience and their beliefs. For what audiences
might this line of reasoning work? Why might an audience not
be convinced by the line of reasoning?
not let little Jimmy play with power tools because . . .
1. It is unethical for a responsible adult
to allow children to play with dangerous electrical appliances
without adult supervision.
2. Children are not as capable of mature
judgment as an adult.
3. Negligent homicide is a felony in Tennessee,
and it may result in a five-to-ten-year prison sentence.
4. The chainsaw is too heavy for a child
to control safely.
5. All the electrical outlets are within
the reach of a six-year old, and little Jimmy might plug that
one in while he plays.
6. Little Jimmy might damage your expensive
toolset if you leave him unattended.
7. Little Jimmy might damage my
expensive toolset if you leave him unattended.
8. Little Jimmy is an only child, and his
parents will be heartbroken if he injures himself.
9. A six-inch circular saw revolves at
300 r.p.m., and the carbon-filament cuts through organic tissues
at a disproportionate ratio to the 0.05 second temporal interval
necessary for neural impulses to monitor pain in the bodily
extremities of a tool user's digits.
10. The parents will bring legal action
against you if any children injure themselves with your powertools,
and you will be sued for a great deal of money.
11. The cost of hospitals--even with insurance--is
more than most families could afford.
12. The Heaven's Gate cult strictly forbids
the use of power-tools, as the electrical energy from it distorts
the human aura with bad vibrations.
13. Little Jimmy has not yet had sufficient
training to operate dangerous machinery without causing injury
14. You let Jimmy play with the last set
of powertools; it's Susie's turn now.
15. Joe Bob McGillicutty, the president
of Jigsaw Powertools, Incorporated, forbids children from using
them in the owner's manual.
16. It will be difficult to get the bloodstains
out of the toolshed's ceiling.
17. Your family's insurance will not cover
children from other households.
18. Your suggestion that Jimmy can do the
job more safely than Uncle Bob can do it is erroneous.
19. You should wait until the insurance
policy comes through, so you can cash in and get rich when Jimmy
has his accident.
There is more than one way to build an argument, and not all
arguments are equally persuasive. You will have the best possible
chance of convincing someone of your own argument if you carefully
adapt your writing to work with and incorporate concerns that
you share with the reader, rather than simply relying
on your own beliefs and concerns.