Not all students hate Stanford’s Program in Writing and Rhetoric (PWR), but they generally agree that other students hate it. There’s a rhetoric around PWR: a word-of-mouth opinion spread around campus about the two-quarter sequence that nearly all Stanford students take in their first and second years.
An argument that relies on this rhetorical ploy–that gets to avoid defending its weakest points, and obscures differences and logical links between different beliefs–is exactly what we need to avoid. In order to formulate intelligent policy, we must seek to elevate reason over rhetoric–and always be wary of the motte and bailey.
At Stanford, we are removed from the hatred that exists in the stones of that Old World land on the Mediterranean. We have the opportunity to look away from the past, and into the future. Let’s start looking at how to solve problems, instead of arguing about who started them.
Aimee Trujillo ’15 and Johnathan Bowes ’15 take on the rhetoric of socialism. Trujillo declares that socialism has become an insult in American politics but should be picked up by progressives as a labeling of their values, when conducted through a democracy. Bowes disagrees finding that socialism must be tied to tyranny. Yet he too concludes that the word is overuse, weakening its true power.
Fumbling over words is, generally, not enjoyable. At a place like Stanford, where rhetoric skills are acknowledged as necessary and thus require two quarters of training, most of us take for granted that smooth speech equates with intelligence. We are aware that being able to explain something well often means knowing it well, too.