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Transcript of Counterargument

The side that isn't yours

Counterargument? What are they?
What do they do?
What don't they do?
Where do they go?
The Overview
It is an argument that goes against your thesis and that expresses the perspective of someone who has an opposite view from your own. This gives you the opportunity to both acknowledge and respond to the opposing point. *
What is a counterargument?
It can help you to better understand your own argument.
It can help your argument become more complex and developed.
It can help you narrow and refine your thesis. *
So. What does it do in your paper?
It might be tempting to address your counterargument with just a sentence or two explaining it, but a good counterargument is fair in the assessment of the opponents position.
It may be tempting to...
What a counterargument isn't...
A strawman for you to knock down or dismiss easily: Describe the opposing argument fairly and you will gain credibility with your audience.
What a counterargument isn't...
An argument to undermine your thesis:if your thesis is undermined by having a strong counterargument in your paper...reconsider your thesis...

What a counterargument isn't...
It is not (but can include) a concession: "counterarguments refute objections, concessions acknowledge the value of others claims." *
So consider...
What about the opposing argument is wrong?

Is your opponents claim...

Logically flawed?
Lacking evidence?
And then...
Rebut! And Refute!

It is not helpful to simply summarize an opposing argument, you must engage with it! Writing is often a full contact sport--be prepared to get into it.

Who might disagree with my position?
What supports the counterargument?
When you refute...
You have the opportunity to tell your reader why your position is stronger than your opponents. Do it.
Address your opponents claims directly and clearly (it is no good if people get confused about what is your argument and what is the counterargument.
Use logic and evidence to support your claims and use the same to diminish the claims made by your opponent.
Anywhere, really.
Common places to find them are:
In your INTRODUCTION: using the counterargument as an argument to WHY your paper needs writing.
In the FIRST BODY PARAGRAPH: so that you can establish the previous or counter position before developing your own.
Right before the CONCLUSION: where you try to imagine what a reader might object to or argue against in your paper. **
Devil's Advocate

Quickly get into groups (3 or 4 people).
Taking turns, each person should read the thesis for their current paper out loud.
Other members of the group should play devil's advocate.
What are the claims that could counter the thesis?
Write down the argument others make against the position of the thesis and try to envision what the thesis of the opposing paper would look like. What evidence would they use?

The Composition of Everyday Life
2nd., 2007. pp286-288
Adapted from Harvard College Writing Center:

Full transcript