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Some AssumptionsYour readers are skeptical—that is, they are hard to convince, and they demand that you explain your ideas logically and with lots of detail.Your readers are oppositional—that is, they hold an opinion on the subject very different, maybe opposite, of yours.Your readers will not take your argument seriously if you do not give them reasons to see their own arguments as weaker or less desirable than yours.

handling the opposition how to do it
Handling the Opposition: How to do it
  • Begin by anticipating how readers are likely to react to your claim and reasons. This requires you to have enough knowledge of your audience and its values and beliefs to be able to think like them.
  • In your essay, ACKNOWLEDGE your opposition’s argument. Explain what they believe and their rationale. This will, if nothing else, convince them you are thoughtful and honest and will prevent them from simply dismissing your argument.
  • If you can, ACCOMMODATE this differing point of view into your argument. This increases your credibility.
  • REFUTE the opposing point of view by showing where it is inaccurate, illogical, impractical, or contrary to shared values and beliefs.

Proponents [of school vouchers] often argue that vouchers enable parents to have more choice about where their children attend school and how they are educated.Certainly no one on either side of the issue would argue that parents should have that choice. It has been upheld in court rulings and is supported by numerous laws.However, if a parent wishes to take the education of their child into their own hands, either through home schooling or through private schools, the burden is then on them to arrange for such school and to pay any costs incurred. As is echoed by many of the opponents of voucher programs, public money must go to public schools, which are a necessary public accommodation. Private money must be used for private and parochial schools.Key:AcknowledgeAccommodateRefute


Another point put forth by proponents is that of competition between schools. They believe that competition between private schools and public schools will improve not only the private schools but also the public schools with which they compete. This argument yields two concerns, however. First, people should consider the problems that arose from many trade schools opening for the purpose of collecting money from government grants. A large number of such schools simply enrolled students to be eligible for grant money and provided only a limited education. Of course, this scenario doesn't parallel that of a school voucher program, but it demonstrates the real problem of schools being created simply for the purpose of collecting voucher money. Slightly similar in concept is the other concern regarding this "free-market" argument: Do we really want schools that are supposed to educate the children of this country competing for money and therefore students?

handling the opposition where to do it
Handling the opposition: where to do it
  • No one place.
  • If your claim is extremely controversial or will produce lots of initial resistance, handle opposing arguments early.
  • If your supporting reasons will raise strong objections, handle the opposition after each supporting reason.
  • If neither of the first two apply, handle the opposition after all the support has been offered.
handling the opposition some guidelines
Handling the Opposition: Some Guidelines
  • Be forceful and straightforward but respectful.
  • Pay careful attention to contradictions between your oppositions objections and their own values. Showing inconsistencies between their stated values and their positions is an effective way to undermine their arguments.
  • Explain your refutation in lots of detail. Remember, you have a skeptical audience that doesn’t want to let go of its comfortable thinking.

Handling Differing Points of View: PracticeOpposing Argument #1: The US invasion of Iraq in March of 2003 has made Americans safer.Acknowledge:Accommodate:Refute:Opposing Argument #2: The US invasion of Iraq in March of 2003 has put Americans in greater danger.Acknowledge:Accommodate:Refute: