Reasons and Evidence to support Claims and Points
RI.4.8 Explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text.
RI.5.8 Explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text, identifying which reasons and evidence support which point(s).
Well-formed arguments involve more than claims and evidence, well-formed arguments need reasoning.
Claims and evidence are essential ingredients of all well-formed arguments, but reasoning is the bridge that connects a claim to its supporting evidence, allowing the reader to see that the evidence provided truly fits the claim and adequately supports it.
Let's look at an example:
In this example, we have a clear claim, and we have several items of evidence provided to support the claim. Unfortunately, this argument lacks a crucial element: reasoning. The author has not explained how exactly or why exactly we should see the provided evidence as a good fit for the claim. This is where reasoning comes in.
Reasoning in this example will explain the following:
Why is it good for running shoes to be "very light" as opposed to being somewhat heavier?
Why does it matter if running shoes have a "water-repellent top layer"?
Why is it important for the laces on a pair or running shoes to be "quick to tighten"?
Why is it beneficial for running shoes to have "claw-like lugs"?
Reasoning here is the glue that connects the evidence to the claim. It represents the author's attempt to show that there is a good fit between claim and evidence--that the evidence provided is relevant and sufficient.
This bridge between claims and evidence--the reasoning element--is not always easy to formulate. This may explain why it's the part of a well-formed argument that generally receives the least attention. With a claim on the table, attention tends to shift to the evidence that follows. The reasoning needed to bind the two together is often neglected--or entirely skipped. Many authors assume that the evidence they have provided "speaks for itself" and that, once their evidence is presented, their job is done. It is therefore essential that we practice reasoning.