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Criterion of Rhetorical Analysis Assignment
These questions require college level responses in a single post, answer at least two of the three questions below. Do not publish a separate post for each question. Label each of your answers with a corresponding Question #, and include word count below each response. Responses should be between 150 and 350 words, but there is flexibility to write longer responses if you are so moved. Focus, breadth, detail, support, and good writing all play a role in scoring.
Question 1. Katherine Hawley, in Chapter 6 of Trust, writes, The knowledge aspect of trust is often less morally fraught than the honesty aspect of trust. Discussions of the “crisis of trust,” in politics or elsewhere, usually focus on doubts about honesty, or good intentions, rather than doubts about skill or knowledge—we might worry about the (in)competency of our politicians, but are less likely to express these worries in terms of trust. After all, someone who makes an honest mistake is more readily forgiven than someone who deliberately deceives us or knowingly lets us down. (p. 64) Another name for the problem of trust Hawley examines in this passage is ethos, the rhetorically persuasive appeal made by seeming well-intentioned, knowledgeable, and truthful. However, do Hawley’s claims still hold “true” in a post-truth society? In a culture when trust is given to individuals who openly double-down on easily fact-checked falsehoods, what other attributes might now substitute for “well-intentioned, knowledgeable, and truthful” to set the new standard of ethos? Name at least one and explain which of the three attributes it replaces. (Note: There are no wrong answers.)
Question 2: In his discussion of pseudohistory, Michael Shermer writes, Each of us may have a different view of history, but they are not all equally valid. Some are historical, and some are pseudohistorical, namely, without supporting evidence and plausibility and presented primarily for political or ideological purposes. (p. 35) A more euphemistic term to describe what Shermer is critical of here is “historical negationism,” a rejection or revision of historical canon by 1) promoting distrust for the validity of historical documents, 2) deriving false conclusions from historical sources, and 3) skewing historical data to deliberately promote an agenda-driven viewpoint. If you were a future historian looking back on our current era of “alternative facts,” suggest one technique you might use to avoid pseudohistorical “political or ideological” propaganda. (You may draw inspiration for your answer from any of the assigned texts for this unit, whether written or media.)
Question 3: Joshua Rothman (“In the Age of A.I., Is Seeing Still Believing?”) and Sunny Dhillon (“An Optimistic View of Deep Fakes”) have decidedly contrary views of the ramifications of media “deep fakes.” Choose one criterion of rhetorical analysis (audience, voice, purpose, or persuasive appeal), to explain how the rhetorical approaches of the two authors contrast (or compare, if you believe that to be the case). Many philosophers study ethics and, with that, credibility (Aristotle called that ethos). A successful class includes committed students and a committed professor. For this first assignment, I want you to demonstrate your own commitment to this class. Using one short paragraph for each question answered, please address/answer the following:
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