Major Assignment #2



Evaluation Criteria
Due Dates


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With this paper, you will understand that definitional arguments are particularly powerful in that they help determine what something or someone is; they can result in inclusion and exclusion. They also help us to recognize that classifications change over time and are the result of cultural, social, and political forces that may come and go. So, rather than thinking of definitions of natural and unchanging, definitional arguments allows us to recognize classifications as unnatural and constructed. That is, definitions serve certain agendas at certain times while ignoring or suppressing others.


For your second 101c project, you will choose and flesh out one the following types of claims as a basis for your definitional argument. You may use of the examples provided or come up with your own claim [all topics must be cleared]:

Questions related to genus:

  • Is assisting in suicide a crime?
  • Is NASCAR a sport?
  • Is rap poetry?
  • What is a X [Insert your own choice of topic here]

Questions related to species:

  • Is marijuana a relatively harmless drug or a dangerous, addictive one?
  • Is Saudi Arabia an ally or an opponent of the USA?
  • Is TV's "Survivor" a reality show or a game show?
  • Is X a Y or a Z? [Again, insert your own choices here]

Questions related to conditions:

  • Should a woman be held to the same physical requirements as a man in order to join the army?
  • Should everyone pay the same percentage of their income in taxes, regardless what that income is?
  • Are high scores on the SATs a fair condition for entrance into universities?
  • Must X occur in order for Y? [Your own choices go here]

Questions related to the fulfillment of conditions:

  • Should "dead languages" like Greek and Latin count towards the foreign language requirement?
  • Should academic scholarships count as taxable income?
  • Should nontraditional educational experiences, such as semesters abroad and internships, count for college credit?
  • Should X be counted as Y for the purposes of Z? [Your own choices here]

Questions related to the membership in a named class:

  • Is any writer today in a class with William Shakespeare, John Milton, Jane Austen, and/or John Steinbeck?
  • Is any musician today in a class with Elvis, Bob Dylan, the Beatles, and/or Fleetwood Mac?
  • Is any actor today in a class with Jimmy Stewart, Clark Gable, Katherine Hepburn, and/or Elizabeth Taylor?
  • Is any recent president in a class with Washington, Lincoln, and/or Roosevelt?
  • Does X deserve the status of Y? [Insert your own choices here]

Assignment Requirements:

  • A clear claim involving a question of definition
  • Establishing a general definition acceptable to readers
  • Examination of your claim in terms of the accepted definition and all of its conditions
  • Evidence for every part of the argument
  • Consideration of alternative views and counterarguments, such as any objections that a reader might have to the claim, criteria, or evidence, or to the way the definition is formulated [rebuttals]
  • Use of the Toulmin schema (see chapter 8) to articulate your argument
  • Identification of a specific audience to which you will be arguing and consideration of how your awareness of that audience informs your definitional argument
  • A conclusion of your argument that explains the implications of your definitional argument


  • Font must be 12 pt. and one of the following: Times New Roman, Arial, Palatino, or Garamond.
  • Margins must 1 inch all the way around (headers are ½ inch)
  • All material from outside sources (direct quotations, paraphrases, etc.) MUST be cited properly using MLA guidelines. Remember that if you don’t credit the original source, you have committed plagiarism.
  • The paper should be no less than 800 words and no more than 1000 (Going over the maximum I have set does not impress me!)

Evaluation Criteria:
Like the first paper, this assignment’s point value (out of a maximum of 250 points) will be based on how successfully you meet the previously mentioned essay requirements. Papers that meet these requirements will demonstrate:

  • Effective incorporation of the Toulmin elements of argument as a foundation and guide for the definitional argument
  • A clear and specific statement of claim
  • A clear statement and explanation of the criteria that is the basis for the definition you are going to argue [how did you define it, and why?]
  • Support that is well-reasoned and includes sufficient development (backing, evidence, logic, etc.) [Prove that your defintion makes sense by devleoping the "why"]
  • Clear connections of each support to the claim [Connect the "why" to the definition specifically]
  • Logical structure and organization of ideas, including introduction and conclusion
  • Appropriate identification and approach to the evaluation’s specific audience


Due Dates:

Adapted from M.W. Zoetewey

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