Putting together an Argument

  • The ancient Greeks recognized the importance of structuring sound arguments. They developed what is now known as the classical system of argument (Lunsford and Ruszkiewicz 124-25).
  • Centuries later, British philosopher Stephen Toulmin developed a somewhat different approach to making persuasive arguments (131-33).
  • In structuring your argument, it's critical that you identify who it is you are trying to convince.
  • Who will be your primary audience for this argumentative appeal?
  • What is outlined below is somewhat of a combination of the Classical System and Toulmin's method.

The Claim

Claims are "debatable and controversial statements or assertions you hope to prove" (182). Since claims are assertive statements, they should not be in the form of a question (183). Many times a claim is strengthened by including a qualifier. Qualifiers are ways of limiting the scope of your argument, making it more appealing to a larger audience. Qualifiers may simply be the addition of a word or phrase, such as "usually, sometimes, in many cases" (194-195).

Background

It's often important for your audience to understand necessary background before they'll be willing to listen to your argument. Often times, this means you need to include historical information in order to explain how a certain issue became a problem to begin with.

Good Reasons & Evidence that Supports These Reasons

A good argument likely has different kinds of persuasive appeals. These may be emotional appeals, logical appeals, such as facts and statistics, and/or appeals based on the credibility of the speaker. Give your audience multiple reasons to support your claim, and back up these reasons with solid evidence.

Anticipate Objections and Rebut Them

As contrary as it may seem, it's better to acknowledge what opponents to your position will argue, and offer a strong defense. Explain why your claim is the better argument.

An Effective Conclusion

Sum up your arguments and remind your audience of why they should agree with your position.

Work Cited

Lunsford, Andrea A., and John J. Ruszkiewicz. Everything's an Argument. 6th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2013. Print. Original by J. Bray