Monday, October 10, 2011

Monday Morning Debate Musing

I've spent a lot of each day during the few weeks muttering, yelling, shrieking, carefully enunciating, and just plain saying "claim, evidence, warrant."  This Diana Senechal post serves as useful reminder that evidence properly understood is not an end unto itself but a means to an end.  Senechal begins,
I have nothing against evidence but am wary of the ascendant “evidence state.” I have seen nonfiction vigilantes marching around, asking, “where’s your evidence? where’s your evidence?” Those who question its rule get sneered out of town, if not steeply fined. This is not right. Evidence has its place, but it cannot and should not dominate everything. Even in the best arguments, evidence (strictly defined) is only one way of substantiating a point.
The debate coach inside me cheers because it's important to remember that evidence must be put in context and there must be some warrant behind it.

The rest of her post, which is well worth the read, goes on to give examples of other forms of persuasion.  She uses Seneca to show how hyperbole can be effect; G.K. Chesterton to show reasoning, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton to illustrate the power of fine rhetoric.

As Senechal points out, the new Common Core Standards will marginalize the latter forms of persuasion making it all the easier for demagogues to successfully use them in conjunction with warrantless evidence.

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