A Narrative with a Point

An ERWC 3.0 Mini-Module

On May 1, 2017, Jimmy Kimmel opened his show with a story about his son, who was born with a heart defect.  He began

I have a story to tell about something that happened to our family last week. I’m sorry, you know I try not to get emotional, but it was a scary story, and before I go into it I want you to know it has a happy ending. Don’t get too upset; leave that to me.

It was an unusual beginning for a comedy show. He tells his audience that the story is scary, but not to worry, it has a happy ending, referencing both the past and the future at the outset. Then he returns to the past to begin his narrative. His son is born, but in the recovery room, a nurse notices something unusual. His son is rushed to another room, which soon fills up with doctors and specialists. Everyone is worried as more tests are made. Meanwhile, Kimmel’s wife is still in the recovery room, oblivious to any problems. Finally, Kimmel’s son is rushed to Children’s Hospital for heart surgery. Everything turns out ok.

Kimmel thanks doctors, nurses, and many others, and describes a happy home life with his new son. But then he makes a political point: “No parent should ever have to decide if they can afford to save their child’s life.” He connects this thesis to the vote on repealing the Affordable Care Act that is about to take place in the Senate.  This quickly became known as the “Jimmy Kimmel” test for the political viability of a health care policy.

The narrative is a well-crafted rhetorical piece with emotional appeals, strong identification, and various appeals to both medical and political logos. It also does interesting things with narrative time.  As he delivers the monologue, he moves back and forth between show time, hospital time, home time, and the larger political moment. There are many “nows” in his story, as there are in most stories, including the “now” of senators taking a vote on health care.

We used this monologue at our leadership events to introduce the concept of the rhetorical situation.  I found it so interesting that I decided to create a mini-module around it, based on the current draft of the ERWC 3.0 template.  See what you think.  Please post comments on this site.

Science Fiction Epistolary

This started out as an assignment for my English 301 “Professional Writing” course.  I was teaching memos, emails, letters, reports and other common workplace genres.  The actual assignment said:

Office Blog (A weekly blog post on Blackboard consisting of an email, memo, or letter related to an ongoing situation or problem in the fictional workplace you imagined. After you post, comment on at least one other student’s post.)

I made this assignment because I wanted English majors to have an opportunity to write a lot of business-oriented documents while also developing their creative writing skills.  Because I had not used this sort of epistolary assignment before, I decided to write the assignment myself as a science fiction story called “Missing Intentional Manifestation Unit.”  See what you think.  Also available as a .pdf.


Missing Intentional Manifestation Unit

Deity Supply Enterprises
We Bend the Universe to Your Will

To: Teleportation Department
From:  Shipping Department
Subject: Missing Intentional Manifestation Unit
Date: Elapsed second 1,000,41699,01404 K

Around about elapsed second 1,000,41617,01139 K we shipped a selection of 12 Low-Power Intentional Manifestation units to Teahouse Demi-God Training Dojo,  in pocket universe 71B.  Records indicate that the shipment went out via standard interdimensional wormhole vortex.  However, one of the units did not arrive at its intended destination.  The fluxproof wrapper apparently disengaged during transit.

This is annoying and potentially dangerous.  The unit in question conforms to user expectations, reads the user’s intention and manifests it in whatever surrounding environment within which it is activated.  Such units are not approved for use by beings below Deity Five certification and are completely illegal in cultural environments below Tech 3. We must trace this unit and retrieve it.

Please initiate interdimensional trace procedures and report back ASAP!


Data Trace

Deity Supply Enterprises
We Bend the Universe to Your Will

To: Shipping Department
From:Teleportation Department
Subject: Missing Intentional Manifestation Unit
Date: Elapsed second 1,000,51655,01504 K

Data tracing indicates that that at the time of shipping a Delorean (Tech 3.2) Enforcer-Class warship was having a skirmish with a RRisconic Entity (Tech 0) in an adjacent dimension.  The warship’s probability disruptor may have affected transport. Warship destroyed. (RRisconic Entities have no tech, but they don’t need it and are very powerful when angered. Deloreans can be idiots when something gets in their way.)

The Intention Manifestor does not have a reading in any commonly traveled dimension or pocket universe.  It is probably floating in an uninhabited bubble of space-time.  Will continue trace, just to be sure.

Happy Fangledors!  May your simpkins return to roost!


Apologies

Deity Supply Enterprises
We Bend the Universe to Your Will
Pocket Universe 93012, Portal 42, Array 4, Plane of Being 39
Stardate 5435542

Teahouse Demi-God Training Dojo
Moon of Tunis
Pocket Universe 71B

Oh Most Gracious and Benevolent Beings:

We were so sorry to hear that one of the Intentional Manifestation Units you ordered was lost in transit.  Our entire shipping staff is inconsolably rolling on the floor in grief.  Once we have finished our lamentations, we will get right to work producing a replacement unit and shipping it your way, double-protected against flux storms and unfortunate probability adjustments.  We will make sure it is a deluxe model equipped with enhanced benevolence and happiness potential.  Customer satisfaction among both deities and their believers is our highest priority!

Our trace indicates that the unit in question was deflected in transit by a probability disruptor in an adjacent dimension. There is a slight possibility that the unit is stuck in a warp loop and will eventually manifest in your location. If this happens, please notify us as soon as possible.  Do not attempt to use the unit.  It will undoubtedly need calibration and may not work as designed.

One thousand face palms in your direction,

Bloog Glaxon
Shipping Minion 85th Class
Deity Supply Enterprises

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Teaching Arguments: Rhetorical Comprehension, Critique, and Response

I first met Jennifer Fletcher when she joined our ERWC Task Force as a high school representative. At the time she was Chair of English at Buena Park High School, but she was working on a Ph.D. at UC Riverside (and raising two kids!). Soon she surprised us by taking an English Education position at CSU Monterey Bay. Jennifer has an amazing resume: high school teaching, chairing a department, scholarship, and publications. She is quite agile in moving from theory to practice. And she lives and breathes ERWC.

So it was no surprise to me when she published this wonderful and timely book, Teaching Arguments: Rhetorical Comprehension, Critique, and Response.

teachingargumentscover

The book synthesizes concepts from classical rhetoric, modern rhetoric, Common Core State Standards, and Jennifer’s teaching experience and wisdom. It manages to be both academic and personal, with practical teaching strategies on every page. As Jennifer herself says in the introduction:

This book is about opening doors to deeper learning for all our students through a rhetorical approach to arguments—an approach based on situational awareness and responsiveness instead of rules and formulas. Throughout the chapters, you’ll find detailed examples of activities, such as the rhetorical précis, descriptive outlining, and the doubting and believing game, that show students how to move beyond a superficial response to texts (xiv).

A bit later she offers a justification for teaching rhetorically:

Rhetoric targets the conventions and processes of high academic literacy, including the sophisticated responsiveness to context that characterizes college and workplace writing. Writing rhetorically means writing with attention to argument, purpose, audience, authority, and style demanded by academic texts (xv).

The first chapter is about “open-minded” inquiry. It begins with activities for closely attending to the features of a text, even a visual text such as a painting. Then Peter Elbow’s “believing game” is introduced (the “doubting game” will appear in the next chapter) along with checklist questions for facilitating the activity. This is demonstrated through a detailed analysis of an op-ed by David Brooks, followed by a section on “Discovering the Question at Issue” which is built around the Ciceronian concept of stasis. Stasis theory is presented with lots of examples and sample questions, making it clear how it might be used with students. Though the theories deployed span centuries, everything is tied together by the focus on the classroom and the students and by the author’s personal experience.

Subsequent chapters discuss critical approaches to text, modern application of the ancient Greek concept of Kairos (timeliness and appropriateness), audience, purpose, and the three appeals–ethos, pathos and logos. The chapter on the appeals is especially useful because it goes deep into each appeal rather than engaging in the checklist sort of approach that many teachers fall into. Every rhetorical concept is described, contextualized, demonstrated, and explained, often with charts, handouts and other activities that can be used directly in class, with more available in the appendix.

The final chapter is called “Aristotle’s Guide to Becoming a ‘Good’ Student,” but it is really Jennifer’s guide. It focuses on habit, identity, confidence, self-perception, performance, insiders versus outsiders, modeling, mentoring, teachable moments, imitation, and flow. Obviously these concepts go far beyond Aristotle. Reading this book is like accompanying the author on a personal intellectual journey through rhetoric and teaching, a journey on which you learn, grow, and pick up handouts that you can use on Monday morning. I recommend it highly.

Fletcher, Jennifer. Teaching Arguments: Rhetorical Comprehension, Critique, and Response. Portland, Maine: Stenhouse, 2015.

The ERWC and the CAASPP

Teachers have been asking, “Does the ERWC prepare students for the CAASPP (California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress)?” The CAASPP includes the Smarter Balanced English Language Arts assessments, part of which is the “Argumentative Performance Task Full Write.” The sample “Performance Task” on the Smarter Balanced website concerns “Financial Literacy.”

In the sample task, the students are told that their school is considering offering a financial literacy course. The students read four journalistic sources: an article from the New York Times about the need for financial literacy, recommending a particular kind of course; an article from the Chicago Tribune about problems with financial education, citing research showing that such courses are not effective and in fact may be a “racket”; a second article from the New York Times about the drawbacks of financial literacy courses, recommending “just in time” education, simple rules of thumb, and making the financial system more user-friendly; and an article from the Baltimore Sun about the issues involved in implementing a mandated financial literacy course at a particular school.

The first article claims that “Research shows that this type of financial education tends to resonate with the students later,” but cites only one study. The second article reports on another study of a financial literacy course, which concludes “We find no effect.” The third article reports on a meta-analysis of 168 studies and concludes, “financial education is laudable, but not particularly helpful.” The fourth article cites no research, but costs out a required financial literacy course at a single school at $600,000 a year.  Financial literacy courses don’t actually seem like a good idea, given these sources.

In Part 1 of the task, the students are asked to do two things: 1) Determine which source “would most likely be relevant to students researching new approaches to increasing people’s financial literacy,” supporting their choice with two details from the article, and 2) “Paraphrase information from Source #1 that refutes information from Source #2 without plagiarizing.” (I would have put a comma after Source #2, to clarify that they mean that the student is the potential plagiarizer, not Source #2. By “without plagiarizing” I suppose they are emphasizing the imperative to “paraphrase,” not to quote, though proper quotations with citation would not be plagiarizing.)

In Part 2, they are given the following prompt:

Today, in preparation for the school board meeting, you will write a multi-paragraph essay in which you take a stance on the topic of financial literacy courses. Make sure you establish an argumentative claim, address potential counter arguments, and support your claim from the sources you have read. Develop your ideas clearly and use your own words, except when quoting directly from the sources. Be sure to reference the sources by title or number when using details of facts directly from the sources.

Then the students are instructed to plan, write, revise, and edit their “multi-paragraph argumentative essay.”

One could look at the questions in Part 1 as a kind of scaffolding for the writing task in Part 2. In fact, this performance task is rather like an ERWC module at the end of the process of gradual release of responsibility. It has multiple texts that take different positions from different perspectives, and it asks students to synthesize the material, take a position, and support it with evidence from the sources. This is basic ERWC practice.  The questions in Part 1, sitting in between the readings and the writing task, face both ways. They cause the student to re-read the texts in relation to one another and also to think about how they might use them in writing.

The scoring guide is also consistent with ERWC. The sample papers that are now available for most ERWC modules, at least the ones from 7th to 10th grade, were scored using the Smarter Balanced scoring guide (12th grade samples were scored with the EPT rubric because those students may be taking the EPT.) The Smarter Balanced scoring guide is really three scoring guides in one, and is an unwieldy beast. Here I have reduced it to its basic categories:

Organization/Purpose (4 points)

  • A clear claim, focused for the purpose and audience
  • Varied transitional strategies to clarify relationships
  • Effective introduction and conclusion
  • Logical progression of ideas; connection of ideas; syntactic variety
  • Acknowledgement of opposing arguments

Evidence/Elaboration (4 points)

  • Relevant evidence from sources is specific and well-integrated
  • Clear citations and attribution
  • Effective elaboration (may include relevant personal experience)
  • Vocabulary appropriate to audience and purpose
  • Effective style

Conventions (2 points)

  • Sentence formation, punctuation, grammar and spelling

The original scoring guide is available on the Smarter Balanced site. The 11th grade version is on page 96. I have also created a rudimentary Word version.

One important thing I noticed when I was reviewing the sample papers was that they ding students for formulaic organization. One student wrote a typical five-paragraph essay with a claim-and-three-reasons thesis: “Cities and government should not be paying money to have public art pieces put up around towns because it could raise taxes, the art could get ruined and some people could find the art offensive.” The scorer’s response is:

  • Introduction is present. Conclusion simply repeats much of the introduction.
  • Progression of ideas is formulaic

They give the student only “2” out of “4” points for “Organization and Purpose.” So the five-paragraph essay is not going to fare well on the CAASPP. Either the Roman speech or the sort of modified version of it I created for the “Essay Process” post would work better.  Both implement rhetorical principles that are embedded in this scoring guide and address opposing viewpoints.

In a future post I will analyze this scoring guide in more detail. We have also received questions about what they mean by “elaboration,” so I will discuss that.

An Essay Writing Process

In recent posts I have explored alternatives to the five-paragraph essay.  The five-paragraph essay is a formidable adversary.  It is nearly ubiquitous in educational contexts, and it serves simultaneously as invention strategy, writing process, and pattern of arrangement.  It also appeals to what Holcomb and Killingsworth call “the ritual of three” (Performing Prose).  What I tell you three times is true.  Three points and we are convinced.

So whatever we try to substitute for this ubiquitous form must have at least as many advantages, plus some more.

The biggest disadvantage of the five-paragraph essay is that it does not address an audience.  The rhetorical concerns–audience, purpose, situation–are not built into the format.  Of course, it is possible to write a five-paragraph essay while considering the rhetorical situation, and such an essay will probably be a superior one, but taking such considerations seriously is also likely to result in a product that has more or fewer paragraphs and a somewhat different organization.

Thinking about the above concerns and both the Roman six-part speech and Ken Bruffee’s Short CourseI decided to combine some things together into a process that is potentially as simple as the five-paragraph essay, but allows for audience and some choices about arrangement.  One way of implementing this might be to have students write the paragraphs and other components on 3×5 cards or slips of paper and move them around.  It doesn’t call for multiple drafts, which usually don’t happen anyway, because revision happens as part of the built-in writing process.  I haven’t used this in class yet, but I will in the fall.   It looks like this:

Topic

What is your topic? Why is this topic important now? Is it urgent? Are people talking about it? Is it trending on social media? Is it in the news? Write a paragraph about this.

Claim

What is your main claim about your topic? Write it down, but save it for later.

Background

What background does your reader need to understand your claim? Write a paragraph about the background.

Position

Should your main claim go after the introduction of the topic or after the background? Which would work better? Try it out both places.

Strongest Support

What is your best support for your claim? Is it an example or an argument? Do you have facts, words from authorities, or other support? Write this paragraph.

Additional Support

Do you have more support? Write another paragraph about it. Keep writing paragraphs for each supporting argument until you run out of ideas.  You might find later that you can combine some of them into one paragraph. Make sure that each example or argument is related to your main claim in some way.

Opposition

What would people say who disagree with you? How can you refute their arguments?  Write a paragraph about it.

Order

Should your best argument go last, or should you lead with it? Reorder your paragraphs if you think another order would be more effective.

Conclusion

How do you want to conclude? Do you want to remind the reader of something? Do you want to talk about what might happen if he or she doesn’t listen to you? Write your concluding paragraph.

Revising

Reread your essay. Are things in the right order? Do you need some transitions to make connections clearer? Did your main claim change a bit as you argued for it? Do you need to restate it?  Make the changes you want to make, proofread for errors, and submit your draft.

Ken Bruffee’s Short Course on Writing

In Reading Rhetorically, Bean et al cite Ken Bruffee’s A Short Course on Writing as their source for the “Descriptive Outlining” activity. The first edition was published in 1972. I started teaching writing around 1979, and I had a copy. I don’t think I ever ordered it for a class, but I may have. It is still in print in a 4th edition, but it is from Pearson now, so it costs $95. I found a copy of the 3rd edition from Amazon for $5. The forward to the 4th edition, by Harvey Kail and John Trimbur, was published separately as an article in Writing Center Journal. It provides a good summary of the history of the book and the influence it has had.

BruffeeCover3rdEd

This is a book that has origins similar to Mina Shaughnessy’s Errors and Expectations. Bruffee found himself in the early ’60’s teaching writing with no clue about what to do or how to respond. He had trouble filling the class time productively and was spending inordinate hours marking every error, but seeing no improvement. We have all been there, I think. His solution to filling class time was to organize the course as a writing workshop with students helping students, the collaborative learning for which he is famous. His solution to the response problem was to teach simple forms of organization and insist that the paragraphs accomplish specific rhetorical tasks. He talks about the “Short Course Form” which is a three-paragraph essay, and he has a four-paragraph form, and others. These can be expanded and adapted. He also teaches “propositions” “assumptions” and support. It is pretty Aristotelian, but not overtly so. The theoretical background for the collaboration is the usual collection of social constructionist suspects.

Two things struck me as I started revisiting Bruffee: 1) This is very similar to the approach to writing we are developing in ERWC (I was probably retaining stuff from the 1st edition without remembering it consciously) and 2) Bruffee’s approach is sort of timeless. One of his goals was “to find out what the students are thinking.” That strikes me as an excellent goal for a writing class!

The course starts out with exercises in storytelling, brainstorming, focused freewriting, and generalizing. Then he begins to work on turning generalizations into “propositions” that can be defended. The next exercises and writing assignments work through proposition plus two reasons, “Nestorian” order (putting your best reason last), strawman plus one reason, and then “concession.” You can see that this gently introduces opposing viewpoints. Along the way, he works on transitions and coherence. He does not allow students to write conclusions until later in the course because the students have a tendency toward unnecessary summarizing and saving their main proposition until the end.

Descriptive outlining is introduced as a way for the student writer to “know exactly what is going on” in his or her own essay. They are to create one for every essay they write, and if there is a discrepancy between the essay and the outline, they are supposed to revise the essay to make it do what they want it to do. However, example essays are included with both “basic” and “detailed” descriptive outlines, so the technique also serves as a way to analyze other texts. It is an essential part of the course, something they apply to everything they read and write.

Section Four is about creating a “meaningful ending.” It is about conclusions. Students don’t write conclusions until page 153 of the book. Section Five is about research writing.

In summary:

  • Students write in class about topics of their own choosing.
  • Students help each other improve their writing through questions and structured activities similar to ERWC activities.
  • Students mostly write essays that take a “proposition plus two reasons” three-paragraph form.
  • Opposing arguments are introduced first through a “strawman” paragraph, then later by presenting a more valid argument and conceding its validity.
  • Students write basic descriptive outlines of each essay they read or write. In some cases they write “detailed” descriptive outlines. Descriptive outlines are a normal part of the revision process.
  • The simple formats allow the instructor to respond easily to the ideas in the paper, saving much time and making comments more productive.
  • When students are more fluent, they can begin writing conclusions and otherwise expanding the format.

It seems to me that there is much here that could be adapted to ERWC. The spirit of Bruffee’s approach is quite consistent with our own principle of respecting the student’s intelligence and being interested in what they think. And what we are principally struggling with right now is the form of the essay: five-paragraph essay, Roman six-part speech, or more organic structures. Bruffee solves the formula problem by teaching a reasonable, but incomplete format that builds skills that will be very useful later. He even says that it is good if students strongly feel like writing a concluding sentence because that means they are developing a rhetorical feeling for the essay. They can write that sentence, he says, but they shouldn’t turn it in with the essay. I have often said that if we teach a formula, it should contain the seeds of its own destruction. Bruffee’s certainly does.

Bruffee still seems fresh to me–practical, doable, principled, grounded.  And his question, “What are the students thinking?” asked in a course that helps them communicate their ideas but leaves them pretty much in charge, seems consistent with both the psychoanalytic approaches and the postprocess/postpedagogy anti-theory that is prevalent in composition these days. Definitely worth a look.

Enthymemes!

Aristotle begins his work on rhetoric by noting that the framers of previous treatises on rhetoric “say nothing about enthymemes, which are the substance of rhetorical persuasion,” but instead deal mostly with with non-essentials, “such as what must be the contents of the ‘introduction’ or the ‘narration’ or any of the other divisions of a speech.” For Aristotle, arrangement is not the essence of persuasion. The big new concept in his rhetoric is the enthymeme.

Aristotle considers rhetoric to be a counterpart of dialectic, which is the art of discovering what is true through syllogisms and inductive arguments.
Rhetoric is a parallel art which deals with the “apparently true” through enthymemes and examples. He defines the enthymeme as “a sort of syllogism,” but perhaps with fewer propositions because

If any of these propositions is a familiar fact, there is no need even to mention it; the hearer adds it himself. Thus, to show that Dorieus has been victor in a contest for which the prize is a crown, it is enough to say ‘For he has been victor in the Olympic games’, without adding ‘And in the Olympic games the prize is a crown’, a fact which everybody knows.

The most famous example of a syllogism is this

  • All men are mortal.
  • Socrates is a man.
  • Therefore, Socrates is mortal.

However, the premise, “All men are mortal” is known by all, and could be omitted, bringing this syllogism closer to the status of an enthymeme.

Enthymemes are based on probable truths, not certain ones, because we are usually deliberating about future actions, the outcome of which is never certain. Thus rhetoric is the art of speaking logically about probabilities and uncertainties.

Aristotle’s observation that in an enthymeme (which he also calls a rhetorical syllogism) we can leave out a premise that everyone knows has lead to some controversy and confusion. Sometimes we leave it out because people will assume it, even if it is unexpressed. However, Aristotle also connects this practice to audience. He says

Before some audiences not even the possession of the exactest knowledge will make it easy for what we say to produce conviction. For argument based on knowledge implies instruction, and there are people whom one cannot instruct.

To summarize:

  • Enthymemes are based on probable truths or contingencies.
  • Enthymemes may have assumed or omitted premises that everyone already knows.
  • Enthymemes may also leave out premises because an audience is either incapable or unwilling to be instructed.

Could a devious rhetor leave out premises that would be uncomfortable or disagreeable to an audience if expressed? Do different audiences make different assumptions and believe different things to be probably true? Do shared but hidden assumptions make an argument more persuasive to the audience? Aristotle does not deal with these possibilities directly, but the answer to all three questions is clearly yes, though one does not have to be devious in order to use enthymemes. That means that an important part of a rhetorical analysis is ferreting out and evaluating hidden assumptions. Let’s look at some examples.

Here is President George W. Bush, in a White House statement delivered on Feb. 24, 2004

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Eight years ago, Congress passed, and President Clinton signed, the Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage for purposes of federal law as the legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife.

The Act passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 342 to 67, and the Senate by a vote of 85 to 14. Those congressional votes and the passage of similar defensive marriage laws in 38 states express an overwhelming consensus in our country for protecting the institution of marriage.

In recent months, however, some activist judges and local officials have made an aggressive attempt to redefine marriage. . . . Unless action is taken, we can expect more arbitrary court decisions, more litigation, more defiance of the law by local officials, all of which adds to uncertainty.

Often a single word implies an argument. The word “defense” implies an argument such as this:

  • The institution of marriage is in danger.
  • Re-defining marriage threatens marriage.
  • Therefore, marriage should not be re-defined.

The word “arbitrary” implies something like the following:

  • The majority view is that marriage is between a man and a woman.
  • Decisions that do not reflect the majority view are arbitrary.
  • Therefore, marriage needs to be defended from arbitrary decisions.

Lets look at another example.  Earlier this month (August 4, 2016), President Barack Obama published an essay about feminism in Glamour magazine. He writes

Growing up without a dad, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out who I was, how the world perceived me, and what kind of man I wanted to be. It’s easy to absorb all kinds of messages from society about masculinity and come to believe that there’s a right way and a wrong way to be a man. But as I got older, I realized that my ideas about being a tough guy or cool guy just weren’t me. They were a manifestation of my youth and insecurity. Life became a lot easier when I simply started being myself.

There are lots of assumptions operating here. First

  • Dads are role models for young men.
  • Without a dad, young men learn how to be men from social messages.
  • Society teaches men to be tough and cool.
  • Therefore, Obama tried to be tough and cool.

But a more subtle assumption is present too. It’s called “being yourself.”

  • Every person has a a true self.
  • Society pressures us to be different from our true selves.
  • Youth and insecurity cause us to succumb to social pressure.
  • Being your true self is better than succumbing to pressure.
  • Therefore we should reject society’s norms and be ourselves.

Imagine a world in which everyone simply did their own thing without adapting to any social norms. Would you want to live in it? Most of us would prefer to live in a society that balanced the needs of the individual and the needs of the group. But there I go making assumptions about my audience!

However, as Aristotle notes, it is not wrong to use enthymemes. They are necessary. It is just that it is sometimes instructive, even necessary, to make the assumptions explicit in order to understand the whole argument.

(Quotations from Aristotle’s Rhetoric are all from Book I available online in the the Internet Classics Archive at M.I.T.)