ENGL 1302 Writing Assignment: Audience-Based Argument


Choose one of the following claims (in either group) about which to write an audience-based argument: Group 1: Identify reasons based on conservative values for a conservative audience to accept one of the following (typically liberal) positions:

1. Conservatives should support the expansion of bilingual education. 2. Conservatives should support increasing the federally mandated minimum wage. 3. Conservatives should support the elimination of capital punishment. 4. Conservatives should support a carbon tax as the best means of reducing carbon emissions. 5. Conservatives should support the passage of laws that will require the government or businesses to provide flexible schedules, paid paternity leave, and free child care. Group 2: Identify reasons based on liberal values for a liberal audience to accept one of the following (typically conservative) positions: 1. Liberals should support the building of more nuclear energy power plants in the U. S. 2. Liberals should support hunting in the U. S. 3. Liberals should support allowing the use of taxpayers’ money to pay for tuition at private schools for students at low-performing schools. 4. Liberals should support greater development and use of genetically modified foods in the world. 5. Liberals should support greater spending on the U.S. military. In other words, you are trying to convince an audience that is typically hostile to the claim to change its mind by offering this audience reasons based on this audience’s own values. For instance, Charles Krauthammer, a conservative columnist, writes in favor of opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil drilling—something that conservatives tend to support because they think that doing so will reduce the price of oil and generate jobs and that doing so will make the U.S. less dependent on foreign oil. These reasons reflect how conservatives tend to value business and national security. However, Krauthammer does not emphasize these reasons because they are not reasons that would appeal to an audience hostile to drilling for oil in nature preserves. That audience places a higher priority on the environment than on the economy and national security. Krauthammer’s specifically mentions two liberal Democratic leaders—Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer—and refers to D. Boyd Audienced-based argument7 online Democrats in general, which suggests that his audience is readers who typically side with liberals. He then states as a reason that drilling in ANWR is much less environmentally damaging than importing oil from countries with lax environmental regulations and greater potential for oil spills. Democrats are likely to find this reason appealing because they tend to value the environment and tend to think in terms of the global community and international cooperation. In other words, Krauthammer uses a reason based on Democrats’ own values to try to get them to consider a claim or position with which they disagree. In essence, what you are doing is creating cognitive dissonance, which the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines as “psychological conflict resulting from simultaneously held incongruous beliefs and attitudes (as a fondness for smoking and a belief that it is harmful).” In the case of the Krauthammer article, he is causing his liberal audience’s desire to protect the American environment to conflict with its liberal desires to protect the global environment and to be a good global citizen, especially in countries where those who are exposed to the environmental damage may be vulnerable groups such as the rural poor.

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