Writing Argumentative Essays
© 2013 McGraw-Hill Companies. All Rights Reserved.
The main goal
The main goal of an argument paper should be
to defend a position on a topic with clear
and logical reasoning so that the
unbiased reader will, if not be convinced,
at least be aware that the position is a
Writing a Successful
There are three stages:
◼ Before you write your first draft
◼ Writing the first draft
◼ After the first daft
1. Before you write your
It is important to think before you
write. The more you do, the less
frustrating writing will be.
Know your audience.
Choose and narrow your topic.
Write a sentence that expresses your claim.
Gather ideas (Brainstorm and Research).
Organize your ideas.
Are you prepared to be precise and accurate, offer
only premises you believe, be fair to the other side,
and credit your sources?
Are you ready to present your argument well and
not just do it to “win a fight?”
Are you ready to defend your beliefs, not merely
hold them because you always have?
Are you ready to revise your beliefs should your
research convince you that you are wrong?
Do you know enough about the topic? If not, do
Know your Audience
But always be sure to know who your audience is and use
appropriate language and evidence.
However, you should never change your position on a
topic simply because your audience will be more receptive
as a result. The audience should affect your choice of
language, not your conclusion.
Anticipating your readers reactions (e.g., objections)
will help you write a more persuasive argument.
Try to appeal to common values instead of just telling
them that they are wrong.
Assume they are skeptical, but open minded.
Choose and Narrow your
Don’t overstep your bounds. Not even the
smartest of us tries to tackle wide topics all at
once—even in a book. Make sure to be
Instead of writing about modern work relations
in America write about whether employers have
the right to read their employees emails.
You may want to limit your topic even more.
Maybe only talk about the rights of larger
Write a sentence that
expresses your claim.
This is so simple but it is essential! Yet so many students have a
problem with it or simply neglect to do it.
An argument paper defends a conclusion: a thesis. A thesis must be a
statement that is true or false.
So write down the statement you plan to defend. Make sure it is
something that could be true or false. (Could someone disagree with it?)
Your thesis can’t be “I will address whether large corporations have a right
to monitor employee email.” That may be what you are going to do, but
that is not your conclusion!
It doesn’t make sense to disagree with that. “No you won’t, you will compare
single to double barreled shot guns.”
Your thesis should be something like “I will argue that large
corporations do have the right to monitor employee emails.” This is
something that someone could disagree with; it can be either true or false.
Gather Ideas: Brainstorm
Brainstorming is a method for generating ideas
for a paper. You can…
…list supporting premises.
…list opposing premises.
…think critically about your claim (test for known
…think on paper. Write what you know so far.
…develop ideas through narration, description, cause,
effect, classification & division, contrast, comparison,
illustration and definition. (p. 403-405)
…look over your brainstorming.
Gathering Ideas: Research
See chapter 12.
Facts can be hard to distinguish from non-facts. Be sure it is
not a matter of opinion and can be verified. Stats, reports,
and examples of actual events are good places to go.
Acknowledge that you might be wrong about certain facts.
(Check out important stuff that you “just remember.”)
Use reliable sources.
Unless it is obvious, cite it!
Try to use informed opinions by informed people.
Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but not everyone’s
opinion is justified.
Organize Your Ideas
Try to find the most logical order in which to present your ideas. To help you
Organizing by Premises: list the claim first, and then each premise.
Organizing by method of development:
Identify missing premises in your argument
Discover if certain methods—illustration, contrast/comparison, definition, etc.—will
work best to defend each claim.
Use the Problem-Solution Pattern: either…
State the problem and then the solution.
State the solution and then the problem.
State the problem, some alternate solutions, and then your own.
Use the Evaluative Pattern: compare to criteria.
Respond to your Opponent’s Argument. either…
Start the paper with opposing viewpoints.
Mention them within each of your premise paragraphs.
Save them for the end.
Try Combining Patterns.
Writing the first draft
There are four steps:
Provide an interesting opening.
Include a thesis statement.
Develop your body paragraphs.
Provide a satisfying conclusion.
Provide an Interesting
Usually, in an argument paper, you want to
introduce the topic and show why it is
If your conclusion is widely accepted, you may
need to show why you are bothering
defending it. (Perhaps it is not known that
people do disagree with your claim.)
Include a Thesis
The more clearly, precisely, and up front you
state your thesis the better.
This is not a mystery novel; you don’t wait to reveal the
“solution” until the end.
The less your readers have to guess at what you are getting
at, the more they will understand your argument.
Limit your thesis statement to what you will defend.
It is also good to include some detail on how your will
defend your thesis (i.e., what your premises are, what
objections you will look at, in what order, etc.).
This is often called a “roadmap” for it tells your reader
“where” you are going.
Develop Your Body
Start each body paragraph with a topic
sentence (you should have many of these
already) and develop each paragraph with
details that support the topic sentence.
Try to make sure the arguments flow as
well as possible.
Provide a Satisfying
Always remember to “close up shop.” You don’t want to simply end your
argument after defending your last premise. Make sure you say “goodbye”
so the reader knows you’re done.
In a shorter paper, there is no reason to repeat your whole argument;
maybe close with a restatement of your thesis statement.
In a longer paper, however, it helps to restate your main ideas:
your thesis, and your main lines of support.
It also helps to do one of the following:
Return to an example from the introduction.
Make a prediction about your topic.
Ask a related yet answered question.
Call for action.
End with a different story.
Emphasize the importance of your claim.
After the first daft
There are four steps:
◼ Read what you have written and revise.
◼ Consider what you have not written and revise.
◼ Show your work.
◼ Edit your work.
◼ Hand it in.
Read what you have
written and revise
Don’t just look for grammar, spelling and
Try to read it from the vantage point of
someone who disagrees. Identify if you are
making a good case or if you are ignoring
objections, assuming what you always have, or
committing other critical thinking mistakes.
Consider what you have not written: As you read, object
to your argument every way you can. If you find a serious
objection, you will need to revise to account for it.
Show your work: Let someone else see it and get their
honest opinion. If they offer no criticism, prod them for some.
Edit your work: Check each sentence for grammatical
mistakes and so forth. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Read it
out loud! (You can even get the computer to read it for you!
www.readplease.com) You’ll be amazed at the mistakes you
HUM 115 Short Reflection Paper (15 Total Possible Points)
Deadline: See syllabus schedule
Length: 500 words maximum, but no less than 325 words.
Essential Reading: Introduction to Critical Thinking textbook, Chapters 16; 8, 11, 12, 13, and 14 (focus on Chapter 13).
General Instructions: After reading the prompt carefully, answer the
questions in MLA format. Answer as thoroughly, clearly, and concisely as
possible. MLA format directions: MLA Formatting Help
1. Plan your work first. Utilize the following writing steps:
brainstorm, complete the CPA sheet, outline, rough draft, edits,
second draft, proofread aloud for grammar/typos/spelling, and final
2. Your answer should be written in grammatically correct
complete sentences. You should divide your indented paragraphs
according to thought/topic change. No more than 3 to 5 sentences
3. Be focused. Only include content that is relevant and directly
related to the question.
4. Use your own words, even when referring to concepts/ideas from
the text book.
5. Clarity is essential. Avoid “fluff” and unnecessary words.
6. If you make use of any work besides the text book, you must
include parenthetical citations and a works cited entry with a
full MLA formatted citation.
7. Specify your word count at the end of your paper. You can
calculate the word count by highlighted all of your paragraphs and
looking in the bottom left-hand corner of Microsoft Word. Specify
also the organizational pattern used just under the title of
8. Grades are based on focus, clarity, accuracy, how well you made
use of the textbook information (Chapter 1), and how you followed
9. Submit on Blackboard through SafeAssign. Plagiarism (cutand-pasting, non-paraphrasing or summarizing) will result in a zero
and will be officially submitted for an academic integrity violation.
Prompt: Using Chapter 13, write an inductive argumentative essay in which
you make a claim (argument) and provide ample premises
(evidence/reason) to support your conclusion (final statement in a claim).
Note: you can pick ANY narrow and specific argument, as long as it does not
advocate for hate speech, hate crimes, genocide, general tyrannical behavior
and/or illegal physical violence/abuse toward another human being, animal,
Your paper must include the following:
1. A thesis statement—such that the claim is abundantly clear and
2. At least two premises to support the thesis statement and claim.
3. An organization pattern from Chapter 13 (that is, how will you organize
your premises/argument)? You may use more than one method, of course.
4. At least three paragraphs, preferably 5, that divide the argument into
an organized, logical, clear, and easy-to-follow read for your audience (me).
5. Any additional vocabulary/concepts we have used throughout the course
(Chapters 1-8, 11-14).
6. MLA Citation of research/articles used to support your argument.
Remember, your goal as a writer is either to convince the audience (me) of
your claim –OR—at the very least, make me aware of the argument.
Purchase answer to see full