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Introduction to Argument

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1 Introduction to Argument
The Academic Vocabulary of Argumentation

2 Claims What do you, as the writer, intend to prove?
Synonyms: thesis, controlling idea, main point, proposition The claim is the main point of the argument. Identifying the claim as soon as possible helps you focus on what the argument is about.

3 Reasons-They support the claim!
By itself, a claim does not make an argument. The argument comes when a writer offers reasons that support the claim. Once you have a claim, thesis, or position, you need to come up with good reasons to convince your readers that it’s plausible. Start by stating your position and then answering the question “Why?” For example: Claim Bilingual education should be offered as an option for elementary schools in areas where English is not the predominant first language. Why? Because Learning difficult subject matter in a second language can drastically affect a student’s confidence and therefore his/her learning ability. Why? Because Students who struggle with a second language often do not participate in classroom learning activities, including reading aloud or working with classmates, due to embarrassment. Other terms used by college-level writers in place of the term reason include sub-claim, thesis point, supporting point, and line of argument. All of these terms indicate the more focused points that build an essay’s body paragraphs. They are answers to that question Why?

4 Evidence Next, you have to develop support for your reasons.
For example, you may: use facts or statistics, offer anecdotes, scenarios, or illustrations, OR cite an expert or authority opinion or textual evidence. Some kinds of evidence are not acceptable to certain audiences. For example, a case study would be readily accepted by an audience in the social sciences but not by an audience in the humanities. And anecdotes might have more of a place in the humanities but not in the physical sciences. Before you can select appropriate evidence, you must know who your audience is and what appeals to them.

5 Appeal to the Reader At some point, you may have written an essay that really drew readers into your thinking process, your ideas, or the progression of your essay. How did you do that? Scholars have formulated three different kinds of appeals to an audience: Logos is an appeal to reason, Pathos is an appeal to the reader’s values or emotion, and Ethos is the appeal of being trustworthy. Of the kinds of evidence listed on the previous slide: facts or statistics are examples of logos, anecdotes, scenarios, or illustrations are examples of pathos, and expert or authority opinions or textual evidence are examples of ethos.

6 Choosing the Best Appeal
Just as different kinds of evidence are not accepted by certain audiences, so different appeals are more appropriate for some audiences. For example, an audience for an argument opposing the death penalty would likely be persuaded by emotional appeals while an audience for an argument in favor of a new recycling program might be more persuaded by appeals to their logic or sense of reason.

7 Counterarguments Whatever your claim, your argument is only strengthened by demonstrating a clear understanding of all points of view on your topic. ***The mark of a skilled writer lies in how he/she tackles the counterargument. To refute other positions, a college-level writer: states an alternative position as clearly and fairly as possible and then shows why it is flawed (perhaps the supporting evidence is inadequate or the reasoning is weak) *Remember, if an alternative position has some merit but fails on some points, acknowledge its strengths but emphasize its shortcomings. You do not weaken your argument by acknowledging other positions. Instead, you have an opportunity to strengthen your own position.

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