Writing the argument essay

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Writing the argument essay

  1. 1. Making Your Case Effectively
  2. 2. Argument Argument—take a position on an issue and attempt to defend it. Your goal is to try to convince your audience that your point of view is the best one. Your goal is to persuade your audience, your readers, that your ideas are compelling and valid. You are trying to convince your audience to think, believe, or do something.
  3. 3. Argument One of the most common purposes for college writing  Political science class—you may take a position on whether lobbyists should be allowed to give large gifts to politicians One of the most common purposes for work-related writing  You might write a letter to a client explaining why he/she should use your company’s services
  4. 4. Some Tips  Choose a subject you know something about—The more knowledgeable you are about your topic, the more convincing you will be to your audience.  Consider your readers—understanding your audience will help you know what to address and what evidence to focus on when you write.  What do you readers already know about the topic?  Will they be likely to agree or disagree with you?  What are your readers’ concerns?
  5. 5. Some Tips  Know your purpose—Each writing task has a different purpose, so you will need to adjust your writing to fit the task at hand.  Arguing—purpose is to persuade the audience
  6. 6. Some Tips  Take a clear position and provide supporting evidence. The first thing to do in your body paragraph is to prove that there is a problem. Then, you back up your statement with facts, statistics, examples, and/or informed opinions to make your writing more credible?  Why do you think you need to make your writing more credible by using source support?
  7. 7. Supporting Ideas Important!  Always back up your claims with examples, facts, statistics, and/or informed opinions.  Examples—specific situations that support your main idea or claim  Facts—statements that can be verified.  Statistics—a type of fact, generally numbers  Informed opinions—experts in a field of study express an opinion on an issue. These add weight to your argument.
  8. 8. Supporting Ideas (cont.)  Enhance your essay with research!  Textbooks  Newspapers  Magazines  Websites  Important note! When you write for college, avoid Wikipedia, About.com, ehow.com, conspiracy theory websites, personal rants/blogs, tabloids, etc. Most instructors do not find these to be credible sources of information.  Use legitimate, reputable websites!!  Organizations  Magazines  Newspapers  Government
  9. 9. Supporting Ideas (cont.)  Logical Consequences—when proposing a solution to a problem, think about all possible perspectives and long-term consequences on the issue. Example  To conserve energy, we should switch all light bulbs to CFL bulbs rather than incandescent bulbs.  This will conserve energy; however, it will also cost consumers more money and will restrict the variety of products for consumers to choose from.  Companies will need to time to adjust their production. This may also cost companies more money initially.
  10. 10. Supporting Ideas (cont.)  Answer the Opposition—when you think about what people who disagree with you might say and address those ideas. Writing Tip: Strive to do this whenever you are writing to persuade! This greatly strengthens your argument.
  11. 11. Answering the Opposition  Consider both sides of the issue  Those who make the best arguments think about the whole argument, not just one side of the issue.  When you brainstorm, make a “for and against” list: Topic: Speed bumps For Against -slows down speeders -slows down emergency vehicles -increases safety -increases wear/tear on car -discourages heavy traffic -may increase traffic jams
  12. 12. Answer the Opposition--Example Thesis statement: Hybrid cars are an effective strategy to fight pollution.  Point 1: Because cars are the largest source of private, as opposed to industry produced, air pollution switching to hybrid cars should have an impact on fighting pollution.  Point 2: Cars generally have a long lifespan, meaning that a decision to switch to a hybrid car will make a long-term impact on pollution levels.  Point 3: Hybrid cars combine a gasoline engine with a battery-powered electric motor. This combination of technologies means that less pollution is produced. According to the Toyota website, "the hybrid engine of the Prius, made by Toyota, produces 90 percent fewer harmful emissions than a comparable gasoline engine.“  Opposition’s opinion: Instead of focusing on cars, which still encourages a culture of driving even if it cuts down on pollution, the nation should focus on building and encouraging use of mass transit systems.  Answer to the Opposition: While mass transit is an environmentally sound idea that should be encouraged, it is not feasible in many rural and suburban areas, or for people who must commute to work; therefore, hybrid cars are a better solution for much of the nation's population.
  13. 13. Common Errors to Avoid  Don’t make generalizations—Statements made about an entire group of people or things based on the observation of specific individual members of that group.  These are a problem when there are exceptions to the situation  Example: A man who was depressed became violent at work; therefore, all people suffering from depression are potentially dangerous.  Watch out for: everyone, no one, all, none, always, never
  14. 14. Common Errors to Avoid  Emotional Arguments—Do not rely solely on emotions to make an argument. Avoid overly emotionally charged words (calling someone an idiot, crazy, etc.)  How do you think this will make the writer come across?  This doesn’t mean that you can’t have any emotion. Many arguments can be emotional, but you don’t want it to be the only supporting ideas you use.  Poor (overly emotional): Support the ERA ? Sure, when the women start paying for the drinks! Hah! Hah!  Better: Supporting the ERA is expensive.
  15. 15. Common Errors to Avoid  Don’t make exaggerated claims—Make sure your arguments are plausible.  Exaggerated: Senator Jones says that we should not fund the attack submarine program. I disagree entirely. I can't understand why he wants to leave us completely defenseless like that.  Better: While Senator Jones is strongly opposed the attack submarine program, the program does provide a strong first line of defense, which helps our national security.
  16. 16. Consider Feelings Words Create • It is important to watch your language use when making an argument. Some words can have a positive meaning associated with them in some circumstances, but in other situations, they may have a negative meaning. • It is best to stick with words that have neutral meanings. • What kinds of meanings are associated with these words? Macho Jerk Hunk Hottie Stud Bully man Nation Homeland Motherland Axis of evil Country State Freedom fighter Terrorist Anarchist Believer Radical Fanatic Revolutionary Rebel Soldier Activist
  17. 17. The Thesis Statement  Remember, your goal is to persuade your readers of an idea.  Use language that lets your readers know that this is what you are doing:  A wall should not be built to deal with illegal immigration.  Colleges need to implement work study programs to help students acquire job skills, make professional contacts, and earn money for expenses.  List specific arguments in your thesis statement to preview the main points in your body paragraphs  Writing Tip: Don’t say “in my opinion,” “I think,” or “I am going to write about” in the thesis. There are not necessary to include in any essay.
  18. 18. Example Essay  Open your book to page 239  What is the thesis statement? Do you think it is a strong thesis statement? Why? Why not?  Think about the supporting information (facts, expert opinion, statistics, anecdote).  What kind of supporting information is used in paragraph 2?  Paragraph 3?  Paragraph 4?
  19. 19. Example Essay  In what paragraph has the writer answered the opposition?  Is this the best place to do this? Why? Why not?  Look at the conclusion  The writer ends with a suggestion.  Why do you think the writer made this decision?  Is it a good decision? Why or why not?

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