Analysis of Controversy Speech

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The Analysis of Controversy Speech

Assignment requirements:

Time: 6-7 minutes


Purpose: To identify for the audience the arguments on both sides of the controversy, by means of the Stock Issues Model, and to identify where the advocates clash on issues by using syllogistic logic  and knowledge of enthymemes to identify assumptions.

Pointers: Do not make your position known. Don’t forget the speech basics you’ve learned thus far. Be specific, but don’t overload the audience with details. Don’t “reinvent the wheel” when it comes to stock issues. Use the model as discussed in lecture. It is a tool to help you organize your speech. Don’t fight it. Let it help you. Remember: this speech is worth twice as much as the previous one.


There are two parts to the Analysis of Controversy speech: Sketching the arguments on both sides, and identifying the underlying assumptions of both sides. Again, you are not allowed to make your position known until the Persuasive speech, and you are supposed to research, in an even-handed way, both sides of the issue. The value of looking at both sides of a question should be evident. [If not, click here].

This speech has two parts: an overview of the problem and the controversy and an underview. That is, in this one, you need to give a detailed analysis of both what is said by each side, and what is not said. Why? Because, many times, if you think about it, the heart of a given controversy lies below the surface, at the level of assumption. Why is it that two groups of people can look at the same data and derive diametrically opposed conclusions? Because they hold different assumptions, by which they interpret the data. Right! So, in order to fully analyze a controversy, you’ve got to identify the assumptions being made on both sides of the controversy.

This site is not designed to substitute for live instruction, so I suggest you make it to lecture to find out how to use the Stock Issues Model and syllogistic logic (or “mediate inference”) to meet the requirements of this 200-point assignment. Still, if you’re curious, peruse the lecture notes to see how to use these two tools.


You should have all the information you need to fuel two speeches at this time. If you are lacking adequate documentation for one side or the other, see me (you don’t want to come across like you’ve short-shrifted one side. That will damage your ethos). Once you’ve got adequate information, sift through it, attempting to identify those lines of argument that pertain to each of the stock issues. In other words, group together arguments, on each side of the controversy, that pertain to the problem, causes of the problem, costs, and so on. Then, on a separate occasion (preferably after having a double mocha latté!) try to use the concepts learned in class, about syllogistic logic, to identify what’s being taken for granted, assumed, or even withheld. That’s where you’ll find the heart of the controversy; the nub of the issue; the question at stake. That’s where you want to leave off in this speech. Why? Because the Persuasive speech should begin where this one leaves off. Namely, it begins by examining the questions that lie at the heart of the controversy; Disputes over definitions, constitutional questions, clashes in values, contradictory statistical evidence, and the like.