Argumentative essays are the most common types of writing you will encounter in college. In these types of essays, you, as a writer, take a stance on specific issues. You are required that you do research on a given topic, collect and evaluate the evidence, and concisely establish your stance. Even though you will encounter various essays trying to persuade readers, argumentative essays rely on hard evidence.
However, argumentative essays are only as good as their argument; therefore, you must structure the argument well to convey the message to the readers. Once you have identified your thesis, you must think about organizing your essay. Remember that there is no right or wrong way to organize your essay; however, there are basic structures you should follow. There are three different structures of argumentative essays used in colleges: The Classical or Aristotelian, the Toulmin, and the Rogerian argument. Each structure serves a different purpose, and deciding which one to use will depend on why you are writing. Here is a breakdown of all these models.
Aristotle, an ancient Greek philosopher, developed this type of argument. Here, you have to convince the reader about a particular point of view. When writing an argumentative essay using the classical structure, you must look into and analyze two sides of the argument. As you do this, you must pick a side and use clear, logical, and factual statements to prove why it is the right choice. Use the following modes of persuasion to convince your readers.
Related Article: Using ethos, pathos, and logos in an essay.
Before you begin writing:
Classical argument structure consists of the following parts:
The introduction serves three purposes: to introduce the topic and warm up to the readers, establish a connection, and provide a claim for your argument (thesis statement). An introduction should consist of not more than five sentences.
Sometimes narration is included in the introduction. In this section, you must provide relevant background information for your argument. You must also outline the circumstances leading to your claims and their consequences. Unlike introductions, this part is not limited; it can have up to 10 sentences.
This is the part where you elaborate on your claims and provide supporting evidence. You should include at least three well-explained examples, then sum up your ideas in the last sentence of the paragraph. If you want your audience to consider your position, present arguments supporting your thesis in a clear way that they will agree with.
Remember that the stronger the link between your supporting evidence and the claim, the stronger your argument will be. Try to focus on the evidence the readers are likely to respond to. Like the introduction section, there is no set number of sentences to include. In fact, you can divide the section into two or more paragraphs.
This section is where you present opposing claims and address them accordingly. If possible, giving counterexamples is much better than counterarguments for your opposing claims. In addition, provide strong, logical evidence to prove your arguments. This is also the part where you anticipate possible objections to your claims and address them. As you refute, use facts, reasons, and testimonies showing that opposing points don't have sufficient evidence. You must also write a concluding sentence that relates to your thesis.
The last part is the conclusion, which briefly summarizes all the points and reiterates your claims. Then end by appealing to the emotions of the reader.
Please note that the conclusion is not for restating your thesis but to answer the question. Take your time and ensure your house comes up with a relevant conclusion.
You should write in the above order starting with the introduction and ending with the conclusion. This style ensures ease in the thought transition, especially to convince the reader about your point of view.
Keep in mind that as you write your essay using the Aristotelian structure, the focus should be on how to convince your readers.
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British rhetorician Stephen Toulmin developed Toulmin in the 20th century. Toulmin wrote a book called, The Uses of Argument, and in it, he explained that the goal of Toulmin's structure is to collect the strongest evidence in support of the claims made. When using this method, you are trying to understand or rather make the reader understand the how and why levels of the arguments. In other words, the best claim wins.
In essence, you are trying to dissect the argument into different parts so the reader can judge how they work together.
In the Toulmin method, you must break your argument into six parts: claim, grounds, warrant, qualifier, rebuttal, and backing. Each of the arguments must start with the fundamental parts: claim, grounds, and warrant. Backing, rebuttal, and qualifier parts aren't the most common, but this doesn't mean they are unimportant. You are free to add them when necessary.
This is the main argument. You would like to prove it to your audience in the essay. In other words, it is the umbrella statement that all other statements must fall under. Once you have identified your claim, you must identify how far you are willing to carry the claim.
One should avoid smoking to prevent cancer.
On their own, these claims lack strong support to show that they are true. There has to be more to establish these claims.
As you attempt to persuade readers of your arguments, some unresolved issues depend on the provision of information. Your readers will ask; what kind of data do you have to go on?
So the first step is to provide information to justify these claims. This information is simply evidence supporting your claim. They are verified facts that prove the correctness of your thesis without any mistake in the reasoning of your argument.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking causes cancer and makes it hard for your body to fight it.
Even after providing grounds for your claims, your readers can still ask how you got there. And this is where the warrant comes in. Therefore, a warrant is information that supports the step between the data and your claims. The warrant is implied or stated explicitly using the assumption connecting the grounds to the main claim.
Keep in mind that a warrant only acts as a bridge between claim and grounds. It is also often implicit.
Smoking cigarettes or being around someone is dangerous as it increases your chances of developing cancer.
If a reader questions the validity of the warrant, then there needs to be additional information to back it up. In other words, this section supports the warrant. It is shown here if additional information is required to support the warrant assumption.
The poison found in cigarette smoke weakens one's immune system making it hard to fight cancer cells in the body. If this happens, the cancer cells will grow uncontrollably.
This provides more information about how close and relevant the relationship between grounds and warrant is. It shows that the claim may not be true in all circumstances hence the use of the following words: "most," "sometimes," "usually," or "presumably."
Avoiding tobacco and putting measures to reduce tobacco smoking can help reduce cancer cases.
This acknowledges the limitations of your argument. It shows that there is another valid view of the situation. It is important to include a rebuttal in your argument to show the contradiction in the counterarguments making the original claim much stronger.
Although there are measures in place to reduce tobacco smoking, educating people about the dangers could significantly help fight against cancer.
The Toulmin structure is mainly used as a framework to test the validity of an argument by identifying all the key elements. If writing academic essays, the most in-depth research is shown on the warrant and backing. This is because, most of the time, these sections are not given the attention they deserve, particularly in causal arguments.
Another benefit of the Toulmin structure is that it allows you to test your argument in great detail as a writer.
However, it would help if you kept in mind that the effectiveness of this structure will depend on how effectively you think about your arguments. In addition, the structure only acts as an analytical tool for constructing your argument.
Also known as common ground arguments, or Rogerian rhetoric, Rogerian argument is named after Carl Rogers, a famous American psychologist. The argument became popular in the 1970s and 1980s after the release of the 1970 textbook Rhetoric: Discovery and Change by the University of Michigan. According to this book, a writer who uses the Rogerian structures aims to achieve the following:
This structure aims to provide a middle ground between two opposing arguments. Rogerian is a conflict resolution strategy to seek common ground between two different parties.
One of the critical principles of Rogerian you have to compromise and acknowledge the positive elements of each side before arriving at a mutually beneficial solution.
You have probably used this method by negotiating with friends, family, or classmates in your everyday life. For instance, if you wanted pasta and your friend wanted rice, you may have negotiated to eat pasta for lunch and rice for dinner. Please note that this structure of writing is less common in academic writing because academic essays rely more on empirical evidence.
Unlike the Aristotelian structure, which is seen as eristic (focused more on winning), the Rogerian argument is more dialectic (a conversation between two people trying to reach a mutual agreement). For this reason, a Rogerian argument is preferred more for day-to-day conflict resolution at home, school, or the workplace. It will also help in enhancing your understanding of the different complex viewpoints.
Despite this, Rogerian arguments come with certain disadvantages. For instance, since the model relies primarily on two people compromising, it may not work when they are unwilling to compromise. This structure also requires much effort, time, and humility to convince your opponent to compromise.
Check out the sample Rogerian essay we wrote on MBA.
As stated before, the Rogerian argument structure does not just seek a winning side in a fight between two parties; it provides a tool to move beyond the win-lose situation.
Here are the essential parts of the Rogerian arguments:
You must introduce and address the problem at hand in a non-confrontational way. Don't forget to outline the main sides of the argument. Also, don't forget to include the reason why you are writing the essay through the structure, which is to come to a compromise about the issue at hand. If you fail to show this initially, the reader may be confused about why you are writing it. They may think you are writing it to manipulate them to your point of view.
Note that the Rogerian argument uses the inductive reasoning method, which concludes by starting from a specific premise. So there is no need for a thesis statement in the introduction. What will happen is that you will build toward your thesis statement and then add it to your concluding paragraph.
To be clear, state that you intended to compromise, but don't yet mention the compromise.
This section outlines the different views of the opponents. However, make sure you keep your tone neutral without criticizing them. This ensures they keep an open mind and read each side somewhat. There must be a side A and a side B.
You must carefully formulate the main idea and reasoning for the opposing views. Starting with your point of view defeats the purpose of the Rogerian argument's main feature, empathetic listening, which guides this argument structure. When you start with the other side's point of view, you show respect and the willingness to compromise. Also, you indirectly ask the reader to show you the same respect and consider your point of view.
Now, go over your side of the argument and make sure it parallels sides A. Put differently, don't raise any new forms of support because you may fail to compromise as per the plan. Also, ensure you don't use a confrontational tone, as you will appear arrogant or sarcastic.
To write solid Rogerian arguments, you have to acknowledge each side's desires and accommodate them. So, point out how to find common ground and reach a mutually beneficial solution. There is always at least a one-point agreement, so try to find it. This could be either an agreement on the opposing side that you also share or admitting that you share the same values. Achieving this is important for two main reasons:
Thus, this section is vital to building a bridge between the two different and isolated claims to compromise each side can agree to.
Once you have listed both sides of the argument, it's time to announce the compromise, which is essential to your thesis. This is what the essay has been building towards. So please do your best to explain it carefully and explain its logic.
For instance, if you are arguing about using force in dealing with criminals, a compromise could be based on both sides' desire for safety. This desire which is, in essence, a shared value, will result in a new claim that will disarm the disagreement.
You must be careful and precise when presenting your argument to deliver an excellent presentation.
However, you need more than this for you also to put all your points convincingly. When requested to write an argumentative essay, you must use strong persuasive skills to deliver your point of view to the reader.
Depending on the type of argumentative model you use: classical, Rogerian, or Toulmin, you have to follow each of the steps with precision.
The above tips should guide you on what to do when writing your essay. You can buy argumentative essays from GradeCrest and get 100% plagiarism-free essays to use as samples to learn how to write a great essay.