As we saw in the illustration, you cannot count on persuading anyone with your reasoning alone. You must support your reasons
—facts that your readers accept as true and relevant. Sometimes writers believe that their reasons should be sufficient for readers, but arguments without evidence rarely succeed. So you’ll have to learn to provide evidence to support your reasons, which means you’ll have to know how to tell the difference between reasons and evidence for your particular readers
What to Look For
The following paragraphs explains how a sit-in held by university students and faculty contributes to a campaign to persuade the university to provide a living wage for all of its employees. As you read the paragraph, consider the following questions:
- What reasons do the students offer to justify their decision to engage in a sit-in?
- What evidence do the students offer to support these reasons?
- Does the evidence actually support the reasons?
Drag reasons to the box labeled "Reasons" and drag evidence to the box labeled "Evidence". Then decide whether you think the evidence supports the reason. You'll get a brief explanation when each column is complete.
Today, over 1,000 university workers are paid wages as low as $6.50 per hour without health benefits.
This is a wage that puts a parent with one child below the federal poverty line.
Does this evidence appear to be factual?
The evidence does seem to be factual and relevant support, for the idea that the policy threatens the economic survival of contract employees. It supports the claim about human dignity less directly, but it is somewhat relevant to that reason as well.
Does the reason give readers a good reason to accept the claim?
The idea that
the university’s wage-and-benefits policy threatens the economic survival and violates the human dignity of its contract employees provides two reasons, economic and ethical, in support of providing a living wage.
We are sitting in because we exhausted every avenue of dialogue with the administration to change this inhumane policy.
Does the evidence support the reason?
Since there is no evidence, this reason has no support. Readers have to take it on faith.
We have written op-eds, we have sponsored teach-ins, we have collected student, faculty, and parent petitions, and we have organized alumni/ae to refuse to donate to the university.
Does this evidence support the reason?
The evidence does seem to be factual and relevant support for the idea that the students exhausted, if not every, then at least many or a reasonable number of avenues of dialogue with the administration regarding the policy.