The Argumentative Essay Notes modified from the Virtual Learning Community
The "Classical Arrangement” a.k.a. the “Classical Argument" In this module, you will be learning the rules for writing a formal argument following the “classical arrangement.” There are many varieties of formal argumentation as well as several approaches to writing arguments.
A formal argument requires a writer to take sides on a controversial issue. The term controversy suggests that there is disagreement between people. The argumentative writer's thesis contains his or her position on the controversy.
Example Some people think to ensure that students in online classes are actually doing their own work, these students should be required to come to campus to take all exams and write all essays. This is a controversy because others think that such a requirement would defeat the purpose of a distance education class.
An argument based on this controversy needs a clear thesis that explains which position the writer is going to take on the controversy. Below are two opposing thesis statements:
Students taking online courses should be required to prove they are doing their own work by taking tests and completing essays on campus.
Requiring students to come to campus to take tests and write essays defeats the whole purpose of being able to take distance education classes
The actual argument is designed to support the thesis. The writer's purpose is to select convincing supporting arguments that will persuade readers of the merits of the writer's position.
Tests on Campus
Supporting argument 1: Only the student enrolled in the class will take the test
Supporting argument 2: Students will not be able to email each other answers
Supporting argument 3: Students will not be able to look up answers in the text or web pages.
Another essential way to support a thesis is to acknowledge and refute major arguments from those opposing your position. Refutation means to show the weaknesses of an argument and/or to answer the legitimate concerns of the opposition.
Students take online classes so they will not have to come to class
Refutation: On campus visits will still be at a minimum. Arrangements can be made to have tests and essays proctored at sites closer to students.
Assignments can be designed to assure students are doing their own work, for example, timed essay exams.
Refutation: Someone else could still be taking the exam for the student. Essay exams mean more work for the instructor.
One time-tested method of organizing an argument has become known as the " Classical Arrangement" (or “Classical Argument”) because its roots go back to the argumentative formula devised by the ancient Greek and Romans.
Introduce the controversy and provide readers with needed background information such as where the controversy is taking place, how long it has been going on, who is involved. And why it is a controversy.
Argumentative Thesis. State your position on the controversy in a clear thesis statement.
Supporting Arguments. Select the best supporting arguments to defend your thesis.
Refutation of Opposition Arguments. Refute major arguments of the opposition.
Remind readers of your position. Make last minute appeals to support your position.
Begin considering a topic of argument or controversy in your community that you would like to address!