This course satisfies an Arts and Letters Group requirement. It is designed to provide students with an understanding of the rhetorical principles that underlie the invention of arguments, i.e. the process that leads to the selection of premises and appeals that become the basis for reasoned argument. It is a study of the rational processes that underlie the contingent and situated formation of logical and quasi-logical appeals. A theoretical understanding of these principles is gained by selective readings in classical rhetoric (i.e. topical invention as described by Aristotle and stasis invention as systemized in later rhetorical theory), in informal logic (as developed by pragmatist philosophers and modern scholars), in cognitive science, and in the field of argumentation studies. A practical understanding of these principles is gained through exercises in the construction of arguments according to techniques developed by these disciplines.
The interdisciplinary minor in Writing, Public Speaking, and Critical Reasoning offers students a coherent program of courses that strengthen students' abilities to write well, to speak effectively in public, and to think critically. This minor is built on courses in English, Writing, and Philosophy and is taught by professors from English, Philosophy, and the Honors College.