No Proof Necessary

Help me reason this out smart folks; I'm clearly not able to be articulate about it.

One of my pet peeves is when students write variations of this phrase in essays: prove the point. They will say things like, "the author didn't prove his point," and "as proof of my point," and so on. What I understand them to mean by this is that "proof" means "facts" and "facts" means "logos." These are equations I work actively against in my classes.

In a general sense, I'm bothered by this because I'm trying to teach them that persuasion is a far more nuanced thing than we tend to recognize,  and that most people are not convinced of anything by facts alone, but rather by a whole mess of complicated and competing factors.

But, that isn't the whole story. The idea that we can provide definitive proof for our perspective or interpretation or analysis is faulty. Persuasion isn't about proof.

What's going on here and how do I talk to students about it?

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