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Transcript of Counterargument
2. Validating the Counterargument
Step 3: Refine the Argument
A counterargument should make it evident to the reader that you are thinking deeply and being fair.
A counter-argument in an essay has three major stages:
your own argument by presenting another perspective
One might object here that...
It might seem that...
It's true that...
But isn't this just?
To refute an argument, use careful reasoning, not a flippant dismissal. Show why it is mistaken—an apparent but not real problem; acknowledge its validity or plausibility, but suggest why it's less important or less likely than what you propose, and thus doesn't overturn it. Acknowledge its force and
estate your thesis in a more exact, qualified, or nuanced way that takes account of the objection, or start a new section in which you consider your topic in light of it.
Note: This will ONLY work if the counter-argument concerns only an aspect of your argument; if it undermines your whole case, you need a new thesis. If your counterargument is stronger than your original argument, you need to start over!
Good thinking constantly questions itself.
early 14c., "statements and reasoning in support of a proposition," from Old French
"reasoning, opinion; accusation, charge" (13c.), from Latin
"evidence, ground, support, proof; a logical argument,
-, from Latin
"opposite, contrary to, against, in return,"
Imagine someone disagreeing with
What are their
An old man on the point of death summoned his sons around him to give them some parting advice. He ordered his servants to bring in a bundle of sticks, and said to his eldest son: “Break it.” The son strained and strained, but with all his efforts was unable to break the Bundle. The other sons also tried, but none of them was successful. “Untie the bundle,” said the father, “and each of you take a stick.” When they had done so, he called out to them: “Now, break,” and each stick was easily broken. “You see my meaning,” said their father.
Moral: Union gives strength.
The Bundle of Sticks
Someone else's ideas give your ideas strength.
Your argument is better when you add new perspectives.
Counterarguments are essential for stripping away what is not essential in your argument.
Like putting metal to the fire, it tests what is
the best or strongest in your argument.
In an essay, you can introduce a counterargument
with these phrases:
A different conclusion could be drawn from the same facts (a problem with demonstration)
A key assumption is unwarranted
A key term is used unfairly
Certain evidence is ignored or played down;
There are one or more disadvantages or practical drawbacks to what you propose;
An alternative explanation or proposal makes more sense.
What kinds of objections are there?
"Some may argue that if students have drinks in class, they will be distracted and may distract others.
While it is right to be concerned about preserving the right atmosphere in the classroom
, this position misses the importance of how students being nourished is essential to students feeling comfortable and alert in the classroom . Students have real bodies with real needs. We all know that if you are hungry or thirsty, you cannot focus. Not allowing drinks will cause MORE distraction because students will be unable to focus. Therefore, students should be allowed to have drinks in class.
However, because of the risk of distracting others, drinks should be kept in a discreet locations and consumed during breaks or at other times that do not detract from what is happening in class.
What if your
argument falls apart?
This means you are thinking critically
and you are succeeding! You need
to change your argument, but now
you're ready to write a really good essay.
Counter-arguments can appear anywhere in the essay, but they most commonly appear
as part of your
—before you propose your thesis—where the existence of a different view is the motive for your essay, the reason it needs writing;
as a section or paragraph
just after your introduction
, in which you lay out the expected reaction or standard position before turning away to develop your own;
as a quick move
within a paragraph
, where you imagine a counter-argument not to your main idea but to the sub-idea that the paragraph is arguing or is about to argue;
as a section or paragraph
just before the conclusion
of your essay, in which you imagine what someone might object to what you have argued.
This perspective is important because...
We can learn from this...
It is important not to forget...
This is right because...