Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The CWIL Model - Part 1

Debate as Persuasion
In debate, speakers make claims. The resolution itself is usually a claim; Resolved: A just nation ought to ban capital punishment or Resolved: On balance, Internet sites like Wiki leaks do more good than harm.

Claims are conclusions which are presumed true.  But it is very important to remember, truth in debate is relative.  The claim does not have to be categorically true nor universally accepted as true as long as the judge can be convinced the claim is more true than any counter-claim or the impacts of the claim out-weigh the impacts of counter-claims.

Since you only have a short time to convince the judge you must employ persuasive speech.

Persuasive speech employs three modes:
 Ethos, Logos and Pathos

In debate ethos is comprised of two things:
1. The credibility of the speaker (you)
2. The credibility of the evidence

The logos is the validity of the claim. Reasonably explained and backed by logic and evidence.
It is the argument used to explain why the claim is true - what you have learned as the warrant.

Pathos is the emotional state of mind induced in the listener. In debate we use pathos, subtly and carefully. Impact statements induce emotional responses - these are impacts and explain why the claim is important, why should the judge care.

For links to learn more about Aristotle's modes of persuasive speech click here.

In debate, one often hears of the Claim, Warrant, Impact (CWI) model of argumentation.  CWI argumentation is simply a model for presenting claims in a persuasive way.  Anyone can make claims but the claims we tend to find believable are those which meet certain conditions.  One very important characteristic of a believable claim is it must be delivered credibly.  This means, of course, the claim is made by a credible authority or the claim is in accord with what is generally accepted to be true by the listener.  If the claim does not deviate too far from accepted norms and if there is no counter-claim, the listener may accept the claim as true without further proof.  When the claim begins to deviate from generally accepted norms, or there is a dissenting opinion either in the mind of the listener or from another speaker, the claim will be evaluated by the listener and is less likely to accepted without additional influence.  If you, as the speaker, are an authority making a claim, perhaps your authority will be enough to convince the listener.  For this reason, it is very important for the debater to become a sort of "expert" on the topic being debated.

Nevertheless, it is not wise for the debater to rely solely on her own authority and expertise in the topic to convince the listener.  For this reason, debaters will supply warrants for their claims and warrants are the grounds or basis for why the claim is true.  Warrants may be based on nothing more than a convincing analysis of known facts which support the claim or they may include actual proof the claims are true based on the work of recognized authorities on the topic who have earned the respect of their peers.  This is why debate, in recent years has relied heavily on "evidence" pulled from articles, academic journals, studies and the like, since these kinds of warrants not only show why the claim is true but also add credibility to the claim based on the recognized authority that originated the evidence. Your credibility is enhanced by the credibility of your sources.

Having now established credibility and firm grounds as to why the claim is true, the CWI model further augments the persuasiveness of the claim by making additional claims which explain why the claim is important or relevant to the life of the listener.  These additional claims are called impacts.  An impact will basically say, one should support the claim or bad things can result or by supporting the claim good things can result.  Impacts are a very, very important part of the persuasive technique.  The reason is, in debate your opponent will also be making warranted claims and they will be very persuasive as well and often the listener will reach a conclusion about which side is more persuasive based on a comparison of the impacts since the claims and counter-claims may be equally persuasive.

CWI vs Ethos, Pathos, Logos
When we speak of Claim, Warrant and Impact, we see direct corrolation with ethos, logos and pathos and so when speeches have all of these we are in the act of persuading.

Claim = our conclusions
Warrant = proof our claim is valid
Impact = another kind of claim explaining why the initial claim is important

Below, one can see how I visualize the correspondence between Aristotle's modes of persuasion, ethos, pathos and logos and the CWI model of argumentation.  It is important to keep this structure in mind when I expand it in part 2 of this essay.

  Logos     Ethos   Pathos
 Warrant - Claim - Impact

What this illustrates is the correlation of the claim to ethos, the credibility of the argument.  I correlate the warrant to the logos; the logic, evidence, and proof of the claim.  And finally, I see a direct correlation between the impacts and pathos since it is the impact of the argument which evokes an emotional response in the listener.  Impacts tend to make it personal.

Examples of Use
The following examples illustrate the use of CWI .  In each example, I identify the claim (C), warrant (W) and impact (I).
  1. The president must cut taxes for corporations (C). Sixty percent of corporations expand overseas due to high tax rates in the U.S. (W). If those companies expanded domestically more people could be happily employed (I).
  2. Thousand of people are killed or permanently maimed each year by land mines (W).  The United States must pressure nations to support a ban on land mines (C).  Otherwise, more and more innocent people will be victimized (I).
  3. As people become increasingly dehumanized, genocide becomes more likely (I). In Argentina, some 30000 people are believed to have simply disappeared and are counted among the "los desaparecidos" (W). The US should demand resolution of this situation before continuing to provide financial aid to their government. (C)

More on CWI
A claim can be and is usually supported by more than one warrant
A claim may lead to several impacts and those impacts may be chained
An impact is a claim and so must also be credible and warranted.

In part 2 I will introduce the 'L' portion of my CWIL model.

For more information about general debate principles, follow the links here.

1 comment:

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