Below are questions you might want to consider while reading Barack Obama, Abraham Lincoln, and the Structure of Reason. In addition to being suitable for book-club discussion, they can be used individually to focus on key issues. After reading the book, feel free to email your thoughts on any of the questions below to the authors: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com. We are particularly interested in how the book affected your perspective.
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- How many of President Obama’s speeches had you read in their entirety before reading this book? What, if anything surprised you?
- Compare President Obama’s speeches pre-2011 to his more recent speeches (see http://www.whitehouse.gov); which are more convincing; why?
- What is your favorite speech by President Obama; why?
- What can you do to encourage more reasoned, logical discussion of local and national issues?
- How could public discourse today benefit from the logical structure of the six elements of a proposition?
- Is there a way the public can “demand” the logic of the six elements? How?
- Did you learn the six elements of a proposition in school? If so, what was your impression then of their significance?
- In what situations can you use Abraham Lincoln’s technique, now adopted by President Obama, to analyze other people’s speeches or writings?
- How can you use the structure provided by the elements of a proposition in your writing or speaking?
- Aside from the use of the six elements, what did you learn about President Obama, or American government, from Barack Obama, Abraham Lincoln, and the Structure of Reason? What did you learn about the modern Presidency?
- What do the six elements of a proposition add to the toolbox of a modern president; why might a president want to use the technique? Why might a president not want to use the technique?
- What would be the effect of all politicians using the six elements of a proposition? Stalemate? Gridlock? What is to be gained?
- Does President Obama’s use of the elements of a proposition differ from Lincoln’s use of the elements of a proposition? If so, how?
- Based the text of their speeches, how would you describe the style differences between President Lincoln and President Obama?
- If you were President of the United States, how would you organize the speech-writing process to maximize the effectiveness of the availability of speechwriters, but retain close control of the substance? How do the six elements of a proposition make this easier to do?