A community or a society comprises different categories of people with different habits and ways of life. An interesting point that is that, different sets of characteristics or behaviors exhibited by different people in the society are what constitutes the society. In other words, a typical society will comprise individuals with different conflicting behaviors (Ellis-Christensen Para. 1). In addition, not every such behavior will be desirable to all members of the community.
The community in this sense could refer to a village or town, a school, a school district, a church, a county or a whole state. While not every one may agree on whether an act or behavior is desirable or not desirable, there are those deeds that may be generally considered undesirable by majority of the community.
A Public Policy analyst described a social problem to be a “condition that at least some of the people in the community consider to be undesirable” (para1). In this respect, the term social problem will then refer to actions considered as being unethical among a community by the majority.
Some deeds like stealing or murder could be generally considered as being undesirable in the community; however, some other behaviors like abortion, drinking, smoking, or practicing what we term as ‘deviant’ sexual behaviors may not be readily dismissed as being undesirable in the society. Indeed, debates concerning the desirability of such acts are still on.
Cases of abortion have risen in the United States and the rest of the world, with news headlines pointing out at debates that surround the act. Many anti-abortion activists condemn the act as being a kind of murder whereas the pro-abortion group feel that taking the act as illegal denies the women some rights and freedom.
The article ‘Abortion: the Choice that kills’ gives an outline of how one should judge the act of abortion in trying to solve associated social issues that can emerge from it. Arguments have emerged over the allegations that abortion should be legalized in a society or not (Anon Para. 1).
The news reports have also revealed attempts by various governments and women activists to legalize the act as a way of alleviating poverty. By focusing on the concept of abortion and the legislations or the medical reports that are related to the act, the media houses succeed in applying pathos, an emotional appeal, to influence the perceptions of the act among the members of the society.
Some rhetoric strategies effective for argumentation used in the media
Rhetoric has been used in presenting out an argument, but has since been criticized by many scholars as a way of simply persuading individuals to think and reason in a manner that is supportive of one’s opinion (Gobo Para. 1). Three main rhetoric strategies can be used in developing an argument for or against a particular claim. However, good argument will need to incorporate all the three strategies to be able to come up with a strong conclusion about the claim on a social problem.
These are the most commonly used methods in addressing the issue of abortion by the media. These emotional appeals can be used in evaluating a social problem (Henning Para. 4). The media houses often gives reports on the legislative measures that have been carried out in various countries concerning abortion.
They also portray the stern arguments between the pro-choice and pro-life activists concerning abortion. By giving the chronological accounts concerning abortion in several countries, Gill, a Us News analysts tends to appeal to the public on the legitimacy of the act. Gill repots on the cases that have been filed and the move to the statehouse where 16 bills were reported to have been enacted. It is also asserted that the bills are set to pass (para5).
This is an appeal to the public to perceive positively the act because it has been there since the olden times and that our authorities have approved it. This is often used by news reporters to condemning abortion as a vice that can lead to irresponsible sexual behaviors. However, it is noted that careless use of emotions may not yield fruits and may lead to misunderstanding the rhetoric approach (Burton Para. 1)
This is an effective strategy in argument even though it is not often used by the media in addressing issues. This refers to the use of logic or reasoning (Crewell et al Para. 5). An act will be declared a social problem, or a solution to a social problem, or the cause of a social problem, following a valid logical reasoning. The reasoning here often entails two types: inductive reasoning and deductive reasoning.
Inductive reasoning starts with a single case, which is then generalized to all the cases. For instance, if Monica carried out abortion and died in the process, then one can go ahead to say that abortion kills women as well. The inductive argument needs a lot of information before a conclusion is reached; otherwise, wrong conclusion could be reached. Deductive reasoning involves developing a particular conclusion from a general one.
It is often not subject to errors as the preceding premises are those that have been established to be true. A set of reasoning is evidenced in this article, with one side arguing that life starts at conception and that abortion is thus a murder. The other side will argue that there are conditions under which the act can be allowed e.g. following rape or incest.
Reasons that also lead to such behaviors should be considered so that an act is not recognized in its own right, but it is considered in relation to the possible conditions that could lead to its occurrence.
These ethical appeals are used to evaluate social problem that is at hand (Henning Para. 2). It involves the applications of morals in identifying a social problem, its cause(s), and the possible remedy. Most of the debates over the media concerning abortion, refer to its plight for human kind, and do apply the ethical reasoning in evaluating the vice.
In attempting to evaluate the desirability of an act, it would be better if we consider causes that led to the behaviors, as well as the overall effects that those deeds would have on both individuals and the public. In this respect, a deed would not be regarded as undesirable if it actually suits the needs of the party involved and at the same time, doing no significant harm to the remaining members of the community.
Nevertheless, it would be ethical to carry out abortion if the mother would be in danger or if the child is foreseen to have future complications in life.
Logos involves developing arguments to support or deny a claim. The forms of argument that we adopt in developing logical reasoning will determine whether we reach a right or wrong conclusion concerning a social problem. There is thus a need to adopt those techniques and methods that are effective.
Firstly, the effective methods of arguments will avoid inductive reasoning unless it has strong supportive evidence. An inductive reasoning is one that starts with a particular case and then generalizes it to other cases. There is often an error in making such an assumption.
An effective argument will also avoid what we refer to as post hoc ergo propter hoc. This refers to a situation where we tend to investigate the cause of an act or event. It may be observed that an act or event X followed an event Y.
This does not necessarily mean that event Y caused X. if a mother died following an abortion, it may not necessarily mean that she died of it, as there could be a different genuine reason for the death. Instead, there is need for further investigation on whether abortion was actually the cause.
Secondly, in developing the argument, there is need to avoid logical fallacies. These refer to premises in an argument that are not compatible with each other. One statement is presumed to follow an irrelevant or contradicting statement and thus loses a sense of logic.
A good argument avoids condensing the situation to have only two possible alternatives. If one has to argue that either you get a white-collar job or you are deemed to fail in life, then he is avoiding the possible range of alternative means that have been used to earn a living.
This is seen in this article when addressing the ‘pro-choice’ arguments on abortion. It is thus not the case that an abortion should be allowed on the grounds that a newborn would lack enough support. .
There is also a need to avoid genetic fallacy in developing an argument. A social problem like abortion should be considered in its own context and not in the context of the type or origin of the community, among whom there are many sex workers or prostitutes. This will be the same concept in Ad Populum, an emotional appeal that does not necessarily address the current issue.
One might argue that if you are truly a Christian, then you should condemn abortion. In real sense, such a person is not addressing the concept of abortion, but is actually addressing the contents of the Christian religion.
It is important to note that dealing with a social problem requires the application of an integrated system of methods and strategies. The kinds of arguments that seem not to be valid like the inductive reasoning or logical fallacies, and which may lead to a wrong conclusion, need not to be applied in dealing with a social problem.
An act or behavior also needs to be perceived by some people in the society as being undesirable, be subjected to the valid methods of arguments, and thoroughly criticized before being fully defined as a social problem.
Anon. “Abortion.” Abortion: the Choice that Kills Billboard on I-90, South Dakota, 2010 http://www.friesian.com/abortion.htm
Burton, Gideon O. Pathos: Sample Rhetorical Analysis. N.d. 16 February 2011. http://rhetoric.byu.edu/Persuasive%20Appeals/Pathos.htm.
Crewell, Dustin et al. The Art of Rhetoric: Learning How to Use the Three Main Rhetorical Styles. N.d. 16 February 2011. http://www.rpi.edu/dept/llc/webclass/web/project1/group4/
Ellis-Christensen, Tricia. “What are Some Social Problems?” Wise Geek. 2011. 16 February 2011.
Gill, Kathi. Issue Summary: Abortion. N.d. 16 February 2011
Gobo, Giampietro. “Best Practices: Rituals and Rhetorical Strategies in the Initial Telephone Contact.” Forum: Qualitative Social Research, Volume 2, No. 1, Art. 17. 2001. 16 February 2011.
Henning, Martha L. “A General Summary of Aristotle’s Appeals.” Friendly Persuasion: Classical Rhetoric–Now! Draft Manuscript. August 1998. 16 February 2011.
“Public Policy Analyst.” Defining the social problems. N.d. 16 February 2011. http://www2.maxwell.syr.edu/plegal/TIPS/gather.html.