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The Persuasive Essay: How to Develop Effective Arguments
What is an Argument?An argument takes a stand and presentsevidence that helps convince people toaccept the writer’s position.Arguments make statements with whichreasonable people may disagree.Arguments do not prove anything; theyconvince others to accept or acknowledgethe validity of a position.
Where are Arguments Located in an Essay?Your essay is made-up of many SMALL argumentsthat, when added up together, make one BIGargument.The SMALL arguments are contained in the bodyparagraphs of your essay. The BIG argumentis your essay as a whole.
The Greek Trio Generally, there are three kinds of arguments. Those that appealto… Logos Patho Ethos s Logic Emotion Authority
Logos: Logic • Logic is a fancy word for thinking or using your head. • An argument that appeals to logic or reason asks a reader to think rationally about an issue. • Arguments using reason rely on facts, statistics, expert authority, research findings, textual evidence, and logical processes.
Pathos: Emotion • Simply put, emotions are our feelings. • Emotional arguments appeal to our passions, our feelings, our humanity, or our‘gut’ instinct. • They are conveyed through elevated (or deeply moving) language that ‘tugs at the heart-
Ethos: Authority/Ethics• Authority means the character and knowledge of the writer• Ethical arguments appeal to commonly held values and beliefs, to our sense of fairness, right and wrong, justice and mercy.• They also help create the impression that an author is honest, and that his/her intentions are noble.
Argumentative StrategiesThere are manyargumentativestrategies you canchoose for yourpaper. Some of themost common are:
Argumentative Strategies: How to Build an Argument from ScratchFacts - statements generally accepted as true. A reality that can be measured orverified by objective means.E.g. There is no disputing the fact that Westmount is a self-paced program.Statistics - numerical data from authoritative sources.E.g. But don’t take my word for it. Statistics show that over 57 percent of gradenine students have a paying job, while another 15 percent are actively trying to obtain a job, and an additional 20 percent volunteer regularly.Authority - established experts with credentials on the subject.E.g. Even Wayne Gretzky himself has declared that Sidney Crosby is “the besthockey player the sport has seen in a decade.”
Anecdotes - brief stories on a particular occurrence that provideconcrete evidence in an argument.E.g. I remember a particular incident from my own childhood where this was true.“Jason” was a kid across the street who always seemed to get picked on by the otherneighborhood kids. One day…Scenarios - hypothetical situations that describe something which mighthappen.E.g. What if the world were about to end? Do you think that people wouldcare more about saving their family pets than their own children?Common Beliefs and Experiences - examples from the writersfirsthand knowledge meant to represent a common experience that manypeople share.E.g. Most of us have had the experience of loving someone who simplydoesn’t know that we exist. But this, my friends, does not mean that we areundeserving of happiness.Textual Evidence - refers directly to a text (a book, play, poem, etc.) inorder to support an idea and build an argument.E.g. Romeo thinks Juliet is a virtual angel. From the first moment he sets
Analogy - compares two things and suggests that what is true for one is also truefor another.E.g. Clearly, Paul is an example of a typical 14 year old; he would rather listen tohis Ipod than have a five-minute conversation with his mother or father.Emotion - tugs at the heart strings.E.g. The poor old woman, who had spent her whole life caring for her 12 children,was placed in a home. She spent the rest of her days sad and alone, standing by thewindow and waiting for her children to visit. The nurses didn’t have the heart to tellher that they would never come.
Logical Fallacies, or What NOT to DoThe following argumentative strategies are generally regardedas logical fallacies or ineffective arguments. While they aresometimes used to support a point, they should come with abig warning: Seller beware! Writers who use logicalfallacies risk alienating their audience by losing their trustand respect.Consider a few of the more common logical fallacies…
What NOT to Do: 101Ad Hominem - Attacking the person who presentsan issue rather than dealing logically with the issueitself.E.g. His skills might impress us if we were not awareof how poorly he treats his children.Why is this a weak argument?
What NOT to Do: 101Non sequitur - (Latin for "it does not follow") whenone statement is not logically connected to another.E.g. Susan is smart; therefore she will receive goodgrades.
What NOT to Do: 101Sweeping Generalizations - draws from a specificexample and argues that it is true for an entiregroup.E.g. The last time I had pizza from “Tony’s PizzaEmporium” it was 45 minutes late, they got theorder wrong, and it was cold. Italian food is terrible.Why is this a weak argument?
What NOT to Do: 101Over- Simplification - gives easy answers tocomplicated questions, leaving out less importantdetails and minor contradictions for the sake ofmaking an argument seem smooth, consistent, anduncomplicated.E.g. It all really just comes down to this: euthanasiais a good solution for those people suffering fromchronic illnesses.Why is this a weak argument?