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Counterarguments and Rebuttals Dr. ArnettENGL 1102.

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1 Counterarguments and Rebuttals Dr. ArnettENGL 1102

2 What are we talking about?  Counterarguments  valid objections to your argument  Rebuttals  counter-counterarguments  reasons why the counterarguments are wrong  reasons why your claim is better than the counterarguments

3 Why include counterarguments?  You don’t have to (unless an assignment requires them)  You can…  demonstrate your open-mindedness  make your own position clearer  identify reasons for disagreement  challenge an opposing viewpoint’s evidence  challenge an opponent’s logic  identify weaknesses in your own argument  gain strength by admitting your weaknesses  avoid looking stupid

4 How do you use counterarguments? 1.Choose their locations 2.Decide on a rebuttal strategy 3.Execute your plan

5 Where do counterarguments fit?  Four popular locations to put counterarguments:  at the end, after all the evidence points  throughout the paper, after each evidence point  at the beginning, before any of the evidence points  throughout the paper, before each evidence point  You can combine these strategies, but you’re probably better off sticking with just one

6 After all evidence points Thesis: The turkey should be the United States’ national bird. Point 1: Wild turkeys are very smart. Point 2: The turkey is native to America. Point 3: The bald eagle is a carrion feeder. Counterargument 1: Domesticated turkeys are really stupid. Counterargument 2: Ragweed is also native to America. Counterargument 3: The bald eagle’s talons show that the United States isn’t to be trifled with.

7 After each evidence point Thesis: The turkey should be the United States’ national bird. Point 1: Wild turkeys are very smart. Counterargument 1: Domesticated turkeys are really stupid. Point 2: The turkey is native to America. Counterargument 2: Ragweed is native to America. Point 3: The bald eagle is a carrion feeder. Counterargument 3: The bald eagle’s talons show that the United States isn’t to be trifled with.

8 Before any evidence points Thesis: The turkey should be the United States’ national bird. Counterargument: The bald eagle is a better choice because turkeys are stupid, many things besides turkeys are native to America, and the bald eagle’s talons show that the United States isn’t to be trifled with. Point 1: Wild turkeys are very smart. Point 2: The turkey is native to America. Point 3: The bald eagle is a carrion feeder. Check it out…with this strategy, the counterargument effectively becomes the thesis, and your evidence points become counterarguments!

9 Before each evidence point Thesis: The turkey should be the United States’ national bird, but some people claim the bald eagle is a better choice. Counterargument 1: Domesticated turkeys are really stupid. Point 1: Wild turkeys are very smart. Counterargument 2: Ragweed is native to America, and it’s not worthy of being our national plant. Point 2: The turkey is both beneficial and native to America. Counterargument 3: The bald eagle’s talons show that the United States isn’t to be trifled with. Point 3: The bald eagle is a carrion feeder. The same thing happens here!

10 Why include rebuttals?  An un-rebutted counterargument will wreck your argument  Demonstrate that  your argument is solid  you’ve thought the issue through

11 How do you use rebuttals?  Identify a counterargument  Choose a rebuttal strategy  refutation  concession  qualification You can use any combination of these three strategies. You can use any of these three strategies with any of the evidence- counterargument patterns.

12 Where do rebuttals fit?  Most often, right after a counterargument  But…can’t my opponent offer a counterargument to the rebuttal? And a counterargument to that rebuttal?  YES  try not to get sidetracked  stick to your main point and move on  maybe promote the sub-argument to a separate counterargument-rebuttal pair  only delve into sub-sub-arguments if you’re writing a really long argument

13 Rebuttal #1: Refutation  “No, you’re wrong, and here’s why.”  Attack the counterargument’s  logic  evidence  sheer existence  Avoid ad hominem attacks

14 Rebuttal #1: Refutation  On the plus side, you’ll…  make a strong case for your point  make your argument difficult to re-counter  On the minus side, you could…  sound like a jerk and/or ignorant  insult or anger the reader  lose the entire argument at once

15 Rebuttal #1: Refutation Thesis: The turkey should be the United States’ national bird. Point 1: Wild turkeys are very smart. Counterargument 1: Domesticated turkeys are really stupid. Rebuttal 1: We’re not talking about domesticated turkeys. We’re talking about wild turkeys.

16 Rebuttal #2: Concession  “You’re partially right, but here’s why I’m more right.”  Find an area of agreement between the positions  Differentiate your positions  Use qualifiers when admitting weaknesses in your position admittedly I agree/must admit that granted even though while it is true that

17 Rebuttal #2: Concession  On the plus side, you’ll…  demonstrate that you’re open-minded  establish empathy with the reader  On the minus side, you could…  make a dangerous compromise  seem wishy-washy

18 Rebuttal #2: Concession Thesis: The turkey should be the United States’ national bird. Point 2: The turkey is native to America. Counterargument 2: Ragweed is native to America. Rebuttal 2: True, just because a plant or animal is native to America doesn’t mean it’s an appropriate symbol of our country. However, the wild turkey is a useful and beneficial bird, unlike the allergy-causing ragweed, so the comparison doesn’t make sense.

19 Rebuttal #3: Qualification  “I’m gonna go back and rethink my thesis.”  Revise your thesis to fit the counterargument  Maybe use qualifiers to make the thesis less sweeping perhaps in many cases tentatively often probably may might sometimes usually likely

20 Rebuttal #3: Qualification  On the plus side, you’ll…  be fair to the other side  acknowledge that you don’t have a lock on the truth  make your claim harder to refute  On the minus side, you could…  weaken your claim until it doesn’t actually mean anything  seem very wishy-washy

21 Rebuttal #3: Qualification Thesis: The turkey should be the United States’ national bird. Point 3: The bald eagle is a carrion feeder. Counterargument 3: The bald eagle’s talons show that the United States isn’t to be trifled with. Revised Thesis: The peaceful wild turkey, not the warlike bald eagle, should be the United States’ national bird.

22 Thoughts on organization After all evidence points Thesis Evidence Point 1 Evidence Point 2 Evidence Point 3 Counterargument Rebuttal Counterargument Rebuttal Counterargument Rebuttal  Easy  Allows the author to weave the evidence points together  The most common technique  Predictable, but safe

23 Thoughts on organization After each evidence point Thesis Evidence Point 1 Counterargument Rebuttal Evidence Point 2 Counterargument Rebuttal Evidence Point 3 Counterargument Rebuttal  Easy  Allows the author to emphasize individual evidence points  Second-most common technique  Potentially dull

24 Thoughts on organization Before evidence points Thesis Counterargument(s) Evidence Point 1 Evidence Point 2 Evidence Point 3 or Thesis Counterargument 1 Evidence Point 1 Counterargument 2 Evidence Point 2 (et cetera)  Hard  Uncommon, therefore interesting  Potentially confusing

25 Summary  Whenever you create an argument, consider including counterarguments and rebuttals  Decide where you want to put the counterarguments  Choose a rebuttal strategy  Execute your plan  Win the argument

26 This is you


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