Argumentative Writing. Objectives. Differentiate between persuasion and argument Introduce (or review) language of argumentation To recognize argumentative techniques in a variety of texts To formulate an argument with a claim and counter-claim To reach a logical conclusion .
A claim is the main argument of an essay. If your claim is boring or obvious, the rest of the paper probably will be too.
A claim defines your paper’s goals, direction, scope, and is supported by evidence.
A claim must be argumentative. When you make a claim, you are arguing for a certain interpretation or understanding of your subject.
A good claim is specific. It makes a focused argument.
Which is a better claim:
MTV’s popularity is waning because it no longer plays music videos
Evidence refers to the facts that support your claim. Examples such as the following are not considered evidence--
— Because it is my personal opinion
—Because my friends or relatives think so or most people think so
—Because it’s always been; it’s tradition
—Because it’s obvious
—Because it’s morally right
—Twinkies are delicious.
—I like dance music.
—I think Virginia Woolf is better than James Joyce.
—The governor is a bad man.
—Twinkies taste better than other snack cakes because of their texture, their creamy filling, and their golden appearance.
—Dance music has become popular for reasons that have nothing to do with the quality of the music; rather, the clear, fast beats respond to the need of people on amphetamines to move, and to move quickly.
—Virginia Woolf is a more effective writer than James Joyce because she does not rely on elaborate language devices that ultimately confuse and alienate the reader.
—The governor has continually done the community a disservice by mishandling money, focusing on frivolous causes, and failing to listen to his constituents.
In arguing a claim, you should always consider potential counterclaims and counterarguments. For instance, in response to a claim about Clemson or Carolina being a horrible team, someone might say: “Actually, the Tigers defensive problems last year were a result of poor coaching on the part of the defensive coordinator. The Tigers have won their last two games and are number 4 in the country.”
This counterclaim denies the validity of the claim. Usually, it’s important to address counterclaims in your writing.
Remember that choice of words can affect a person’s response to it. Try to anticipate their response, and choose your words accordingly.
Phrasing A: The media's exploitation of the Watergate scandal showed how biased it was already.
Phrasing B: The media's coverage of the Watergate scandal suggests that perhaps those in the media had already determined Nixon’s guilt.
Which one is less likely to raise a listener’s defensives?
Consider the situation
● What is the topic?
● What is my purpose?
● Who is my audience?
● What action do I want my audience to take?
Clarify your thinking
● What are you trying to prove?
● Why do you feel the way you do?
● What kind of proof do you have?
● Who will be affected by this?
A claim is the position statement or the key point of your argument
● Three types of claims:
1)claim of fact—state something is true or not true;
2)claim of value—state something has or doesn’t have worth;
3)claim of policy—assert something should or shouldn’t be done
● Claims may contain one or more reasons you will prove
● Write claim as one coherent sentence
● Expert opinions
● Point out flaws/weaknesses in arguments on the other side or arguments you don’t accept
● List objections
● Recognize or concede another viewpoint when claim has true weaknesses. This adds believability to overall claim.
Transitional Phrases for Counter Arguments
I admit that Even though Certainly
It is true that Perhaps I accept
Of course I agree that I realize that
admittedly granted I cannot argue that
even though I agree that while it is true that
● Use logical appeals—facts, statistics, expert opinions, anecdotes, and examples
● Avoid appeals to fear or ignorance
● Use levels of evidence—a minimum of two pieces of evidence to support each reason
● Conclude with a restatement of main arguments
● Use a call to action
An argument is a chain of reasons, supported by evidence, that support a claim. Faulty logic means using evidence that is fuzzy, exaggerated, illogical, or false. Be careful to avoid faulty logic like the following when defending claims:
More Fallacies to Avoid
Also, besides, furthermore, in addition, similarly, in other words, for example, for instance, although, but, despite the fact that, however, as a result, since, so, therefore, admittedly, as a result, consequently, yet, thus
Dictated Emphasized Estimated Exclaimed Explained Expressed Feared Indicated Insisted Instructed Lectured Mentioned Murmured Noted Notified Objected Observed Ordered Pleaded Pointed out Predicted Questioned Reassured Related Repeated Replied Responded Requested Restated Revealed Ruled Screamed Spoke Stammered Stated Stormed Suggested Thought Told Urged Uttered Vowed Warned
Hint: cut quotes to the core and use them like spice, sparingly