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FYC: Intro to Arguments

Freshman Composition

Katie Friedman

on 9 July 2017

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Transcript of FYC: Intro to Arguments

I've said it before, but it bears repeating. If possible,
choose a topic you're genuinely interested in
, drawing on your own knowledge and experiences.
Arguments come in many different forms - proposals, evaluations, literary analyses, etc. - to serve different purposes. Keeping your rhetorical situation (writer, audience, topic) in mind, remember to do the following when devising an argument:
Deciding to Write an Argument
Purpose and Topic
: A reader is more likely to accept an argument when the writer seems reasonable, knowledgeable, and fair. To do so, you may need to adjust your vocabulary or writing style/tone.
Determine your scope
: In the Internet age there's a ton of information about every conceivable subject, so you'll need to determine the limits/parameters of your argument.
Finding and Developing Materials
Keep your best argument for the end
: Like in life, you want to make a strong first and last impression with your argument.
Structure and Style
Arguments and Counterarguments
Present debatable claims.
Offer good reasons and evidence for the claims.
Understand opposing claims and points of view.
Use language (and other media) strategically.
Example: People who oppose gay marriage don't know what they are talking about.
For all of the above, don't generalize, and be sensitive/respectful without being gutless.
Evidence, Assemble!
: You need support each main point with hard evidence. Evidence can take the form of examples, statistics, illustrations, testimony, etc-- it's also dependent on your topic. The most important thing to remember is to choose
reputable sources
Remember to always note where your sources are coming from, so you don't freak out when you have to do your bibliography. Also, cite and quote following MLA format. See https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/01/ for help.
Finding and Developing Materials (Cont.)
Counterarguments (a.k.a. opposing arguments) are arguments that are related to your claim but do not directly support it.
Given the following claim:
Community college students are usually not intelligent enough to succeed at 4 year universities.
Is the following a related and relevant opposing argument? Why/Why not?
Some students choose community college looking for more flexible schedules to accommodate their work and families.
Related opposing argument?
Remember the claim:
Community college students are usually not intelligent enough to succeed at 4 year universities.
Many community college students are also working to support a family; therefore, necessity, not intelligence is the deciding factor. In fact, research shows that up to 60% of transfer students successfully graduate from a 4 year college.
Related opposing argument? Why or why not?
Key Terms
Relevant and related opposing arguments, often include language, terms, and concepts addressed in the original argument.
Note how the 1st opposing argument dealt only with flexible schedules.
The second opposing argument also addressed this concept, but connected it back to intelligence. Therefore, the second opposing argument is the most related and relevant.
Discovering Counterarguments: Process #1
Process #1 is great if you already know what you want to argue, but need to find out what others think about your claims.
Clarify YOUR argument/claim
Research to find the opposing views of others:
What do other people have to say about this topic?
What evidence do they have to support their arguments?
Determine which opposing arguments you wish to address.
You may not be able to address them all
Research on the specific opposition you will address.
Discovering Counterarguments: Process #2
Process #2 is great if you have a topic in mind, but aren't sure what your opinions are on it. It's also useful if you have an idea, but aren't sure if there is evidence to support it.
Clarify your TOPIC
(not necessarily your specific argument)
Research to find various views and perspectives
Read, think, and determine which views you agree/disagree with and/or make the most/least effective arguments
Determine YOUR argument and the opposing argument you will address.
Addressing the Opposition
1. Understand the opposing argument including its supporting claims, evidence, and logic.
2. Identify any weaknesses such as lack of evidence or faulty evidence, assumptions of "truth", misconceptions, over generalizations, etc.
3. Determine which specific points of weaknesses you will address to counter (argue against) the opposition: Which piece of evidence? Which claim(s)? Which faulty logic?
4. Plan your "attack": How will you refute the opposition's argument? Do you have more evidence? Better evidence/logic? Different evidence?
Utilize rhetorical devices
: Parallelism, repetition, metaphors, similes, analogies, etc. You can use the devices you analyzed in your rhetorical analysis essays to strengthen your argument.
Traditionally, counterarguments and the refutation of the counterarguments get their own separate section in an essay. However, depending on your topic or class, this structure may not make rhetorical sense. It is your call.
Use the best quotations
: You don't have to use every single good quote you find. Choose ones that:
Put your issue in focus or context.
Make a point with exceptional power.
Support a claim or piece of evidence that readers might doubt.
State an opposing point well.
Begin with a preliminary claim
(a complete sentence that states a position you will defend with evidence), if only for yourself. Like a thesis statement, you don't have to stick to this claim, but a preliminary claim will give focus as you continue researching. Then as you learn more about your issue, narrow your claim to a position you can reasonably argue.
Other factors
Your own limits
: You may need to venture outside of your own comfort zone to consider the opposition.
Race & ethnicity
Gender & sexual orientation
Income & class
Religion & spirituality
List your reasons
: List reasons that support your claim while you're researching (
make sure to paraphrase so you don't end up accidentally plagiarizing later
). Then when you feel like you're done researching,
review your notes
find patterns and relationships
(like the brainstorming technique).
Which is the arguable claim?
Watch this video. What are the three models of argument he mentions? Which do you think we will write in this class?
Not a great thesis statement, but you can start with this idea and polish as you go.
Better, more arguable thesis worthy of supporting evidence
Many conservative critics who oppose gay marriage unwittingly undermine their own core principles, especially monogamy and honesty.
Full transcript