Sciences

Summarizing the diversity of corroborating or opposing theories or experimental data on a particular topic; discussing which author agrees with who, and if they disagree, on what grounds - data or interpretation. You need to be as balanced as possible in your presentation of the two or more sides before probably summing up the essence of the argument (or main points of contention) and declaring which you find most convincing. In science, you need to be balanced but not in law.

Note that this student claims to be able to speak for sciences in general and to compare sciences with law. However, this view is different from that of the law student, above, who writes about the academic study of law. This science student seems to refer to a court of law where a barrister has to try to persuade a jury by using a mix of fact and persuasion. This view of argument as making and trying to win a case through persuasive argument is nearer to our everyday meaning of 'having an argument', as well as what goes on in courts of justice. Although the idea of making a strong case also often underlies academic writing requirements, the writer is always expected to be 'balanced' in presenting different viewpoints even when she or he ends up on one side.

This student went on to introduce a sense of argument that is more like a 'story' (as we suggest in Chapter 6):

Presenting your material in a particular sequence - perhaps in a historical piece detailing the development of a theory or resolution of a controversy, e.g. Darwinian selection in 1860s to 1880s.

Another science student wrote about argument as 'the journey of your essay', with a 'logical flow' and a 'thread of a sort between parts'. Yet another wrote in an amusing way about how scientists are supposed to build on others' work to make a new claim:

I would say that an 'argument' in science has to reflect both sides: while Vile and Calumny 1996 say that so and so happens, Veracity and Truth 1998 say that this and that happens. Our results agree with Veracity and Truth but extend the boundaries of their supposition. In the Ideal World, the scientific argument would be an evidence-based rationale, i.e. '. . . from what we have found out and from what we already know, then we think that the following is happening.'

However, argument is now driven by hypothesis, and so has become more subjective, i.e. ' ... from what we already know we have the following idea. We will perform a series of experiments that we believe will give evidence to the support of that idea.'

Finally, there is the popular definition of argument - an altercation. This is usually conducted via publications, utilizing refutations and counter-refutations (a lengthy process but polite), or at meetings (which is usually a shorter and more brutish process).

Here we see the familiar statement that a student writer needs a strong idea with supporting evidence. This statement ends by referring back to the 'popular' idea of argument as a 'quarrel', mockingly suggesting that academics also engage in this kind of argument.

0 0

Post a comment