Week 3


All - Meet in Great Hall


  • Fine Arts Requirement: attend an event (view it); reflect on it and upload a specific, individual (original) response to the D2L common core area. Fine Arts Overview and Events

Please take this 5 minute survey on the class Link

Discussion of Fish

  • Orienting questions
  • Beginning with our prompt (how to situate Fish in relation to truth, knowlege, belief or facts)
  • Situate Fish in relation to Descartes, Clifford, Antin …
  • Specific passages
    • 4 Lessons about argument from Monty Python (pp. 6-7)
    • Fish on “rhetorically achieved authority” versus “the real thing” (p. 10)
    • Doubt, authority, and argument
    • Desire for Another World (pp 13-16) - what are the positions of Bacon and Orwell, and why does Fish find them lacking?
    • If it's an Impossible Dream to imagine transcending argument, how does it ever even pause (according to Fish)? (p 21)


We'll spend another class period discussion this chapter, before moving on. For the next class, please consider one of the discussion questions listed for Thursday and be prepared to offer your response during class (orally).

Please take this 5 minute survey on the class Link


Team B - in person


  1. D2L “course” is open for Fine Arts uploads
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Fish C1 Discussion Continued —

1. In “Merchants of Doubt”, Fish admits that rhetoric can be used to deceive. How does the tobacco industry “market doubt” (27) in order to keep unresolved the “truth” about smoking?

2. In “The Escape from Doubt,” Fish suggests that the solution Oreskes and Conway present to “doubt” isn't workable. What is their solution and why, according to Fish, is it not really a solution?

3. In section 7, Fish summarizes the common solution to the problem of doubt (or not knowing) as “Liberal Rationalism” (this is “liberal” in the sense of liberal arts or liberal education, not the political left). What does Fish mean when he concludes that we do not have “a truth that has been revealed by argument…”? (35-36).

4. In section 8, Fish compares Mark Anthony (from Julius Caesar) and Donald Trump. What's the connection and what aspect of argument do both give evidence of in Fish's view?

5. “Argument's Two Faces” allows Fish to become a little more hopeful or encouraging that we might not be destroyed by rhetoric. What is his quasi-solution (following Aristotle)?

Homework - Read C2: Political Arguments - The All-Spin Zone. In MS Teams, post one, specific question you'd like to raise in class discussion Friday. Please try to refer to a specific passage in the text with a page number (and maybe a quote).


Team A - In Person

Political Argument

Homework - In C2, Fish describes how in political arugment, sound bites (like “death tax” or “marriage equality”) can work to provoke a “stylized” exchange of “talking points” in which no one would ever say “'I never thought of that'” because they represent “hardened convictions.” Can you think of a current example? This could be anywhere, from political advertisement to social media meme. What's the implied argument? Could it persuade?

Share an example via MS Teams; or, engage thougthfully and at length with a classmate's example.