The Debate on what caused Rome to fall the most
Explore an Issue
In this assignment, you are asked to explore an issue— any matter important to the communities in which you live, about which people disagree, and on which it is possible to take several positions. This exploration should enlarge an audience’s understanding of how the problem is perceived by the people who are involved in its discussion. It should also help your audience to evaluate the various positions taken by persons who are concerned with the issue.
Your response to this assignment should consider one of the two types of rhetorical situations described below:
You can enlarge someone’s understanding about a controversy. Such an audience would already have some knowledge of at least some aspects of the issue. For example, a suburban friend sees gun control as necessary to curb violence, but you as a hunter understand it somewhat differently: enlarge her understanding of what is at issue when discussing gun control. Or, some people in your community oppose sex education in the public schools because they believe parents are responsible for such teaching; you as a member of a younger generation have a different point of view. Show those who are opposed to sex education that different points of view are available about this issue.
You can examine an issue that is unfamiliar to your audience, but which they have some need to understand. For instance, you might define the problems involving old growth forests or logging or clean streams so that a group interested in supporting environmental issues would better understand the available positions on these issues. Or you might define the controversy surrounding human cloning for an audience that lacks knowledge about this issue. You could imagine that you are an aide for a state legislator. Your job is to provide comprehensive information about the available positions on charter schools in the event that your legislator may be questioned by constituents. Finally, as a student at San Francisco State University, you might choose a problem at the university that the audience of the student newspaper would read about, such as hate speech or racism, grade inflation or cheating, and explore the available positions on that issue.
Thoroughly explore the issue you have selected using the stases of conjecture, definition, value, and procedure. Which stasis seems most crucial to resolving the problem? At which stasis is there greatest lack of agreement? Will stases of conjecture or definition reveal aspects of the issue that may resolve questions of value or policy?
The next step in your thinking will be to lay out possible arguments for resolution of these disagreements. The common topics will help you discover arguments for the various positions you have identified. Do the situations addressed by these positions exist? Do these positions correctly evaluate all aspects of the issue? Are these positions possible or impossible?
After you have discovered intrinsic arguments that can be made about the issue, you may look to extrinsic sources in the library and elsewhere to supply the data and authority that often persuades contemporary audiences
What form might your paper take? It could be a letter. It could be a talk presented to a group of listeners which includes people with a variety of positions on the issue.
Or it could be an article for a magazine or a newspaper which presents the issue to its readers. Or imagine it as a lengthy memo to a person—such as a legislator—or to the members of a particular group who need to be informed before they take a stand in a particular issue. In any case, it must have an exigence—for some reason, an audience is interested in your exploration of this issue.
The completed paper should demonstrate your understanding of the role played by audience considerations in composing an issue, and it should demonstrate as well that you understand and can use the questions of stasis theory.
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