Second Evaluation Task


Supporting Your Claims with Reasons and Grounds

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This assignment will help you:

  • Clarify your position on what you're evaluating
  • Establish evaluative criteria
  • State why you believe your assessment is justified
  • Support your reasons with details that reinforce your position

Using the Toulmin model of argumentation, you will now generate reasons and grounds to justify your claim (evaluation). To successfully complete this assignment, you must refine your claim, identify your audience, establish the criteria for your evaluation, support your claim with at least 6 valid reasons, and provide adequate grounds to support those reasons.

When delineating your claim, reasons, and grounds, you must:

Use a controversial claim. Remember, you are evaluating when you:

  • Make a quality judgment: "Han Solo is one of the best characters ever portrayed by Harrison Ford."
  • Challenge a judgment of quality: "Han Solo is a shallow and flat character."
  • Construct a ranking or comparison: "Han Solo is a much more interesting character than the actual lead, Luke Skywalker."

Claims worth arguing tend to be controversial; why argue a point that's widely accepted? They also tend to use terms that indicate value or rank (best/worst, successful/unsuccessful).

Establish criteria applicable to your your text. The extent to which you must establish your evaluative criteria depends on your audience. When you share the values of your audience, full statements of evaluative criteria are not as necessary. Don't take it for granted that your audience understands your criteria; have they heard you speak or write before on this topic? Vague reasons unsupported by explicit criteria are likely to be challenged.

Claim: In Star Wars: Episode IV, Han Solo is a more much more interesting character than the actual lead, Luke Skywalker.

Criteria?: What makes a character "interesting?" I must now establish must criteria for "interesting" characters: complex, dynamic, sharply witty, etc. Should I quote or paraphrase an authority's definition of an "interesting" character, such as Gene Siskel, or is my own authority enough to validate my criteria? These are important questions that you must consider.

Consider and evaluate reasons. You must offer the best possible evidence in support of your claim. The "best possible support" is determined by the audience you're trying to reach. You don't talk to to your teachers in the same way you talk to your mom or dad. Why? Because these are two very different audiences that necessitate different persuasive techniques.

Sources for your reasons may include personal experience, anecdotes, facts, & authorities. Which you invoke, and the manner in which you invoke them, depends on your audience and how you wish to affect them.

Use grounds to support your reasons. You always have to explain your reasons by supporting them:

Claim: In Star Wars: Episode IV, Han Solo is a more much more interesting character than the actual lead, Luke Skywalker.

This is a controversial ranking or comparison that avoids generic assessments, such as X is good or X is bad. Rather, it focuses on a specific indicator of quality, how interesting a character is.

Summary: I've watched Star Wars: Episode IV over and over and over again, and I can summarize it with an eye towards highlighting Han Solo's presence in them. Remember that summarizing is a critical, interpretive act; I will decide which elements are most noteworthy and mention only those main ideas. By establishing myself as an intelligent, informed, and very devoted Star Wars fan, I am establishing my ethos as a trustworthy person who is familiar with this environment and invested in this issue.

Audience: People who have seen Star Wars: Episode IV.


1) Han Solo is a complex character.

Grounds for Reason 1: Han Solo isn't all good or all bad. He has conflicting feelings, wayward tendencies, but a good heart. That makes him more complex than Luke who, on the other hand, is Mr. Virtue. Dressed all in white, he never seems conflicted.

2) Han Solo is a dynamic character.

Grounds for Reason 2: Since a "dynamic" character is a character who changes, we can follow Han Solo from his beginning as a pure mercenary to the ending where he unselfishly comes back and helps the Rebels destroy the Death Star, saving Luke's life. He grows as a character. Luke is "static" or unchanging. He starts out as a pure-hearted hero and never changes.

3) Han Solo has a sharp wit.

Grounds for Reason 3: Because Han Solo is always cracking funny caustic one-liners, the audience takes to him. For instance, Han keeps making fun of Princess Leia's arrogance by addressing her sarcastically as "Your Worshipfulness" and other similar mock expressions of respect. (Notice I used an example there to prop up my reason).


Due Date: Wednesday, Sept. 11

Worth 25 points


Adapted from M.W.Zoetewey


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