|The Write Place: Guides for Writing and Grammar .............................Home|
The techniques of argument are not foreign to you. You use them and have used them all the time in your daily life. For example, it's Friday night and you ask your Dad for the keys to the car. His reply is, "Why should I?" You then have to argue or persuade him to let you have the keys. What you may not be as familiar or comfortable with is making arguments in writing.
It is important to realize that REASONS ARE THE FOUNDATION OF ANY ARGUMENT! Beyond "making your point and supporting it," what more can you do to "craft" a persuasive argument? Remember our analogy of the courtroom lawyer for your job as an argumentative writer. The courtroom lawyer doesn't just present evidence and reasons in any order. He or she thinks about how the case might be most persuasively presented. While making his or her case, the lawyer (writer) could use any of these argumentative approaches:
One could easily take a whole course in argumentative writing, and I do not want to overwhelm you with too much. Instead, I would like to present you with two argumentative techniques that if incorporated into your essay will make your writing more persuasive and effective. These techniques are "Focus and Emphasis" and "Point-Counterpoint."
When using this technique,
you present one reason as being the strongest and most important, and
you spend more time developing and emphasizing it. Perhaps you have three
or five good reasons for your position. By focusing and emphasizing one,
you give your argument something like a left hook a boxer saves for his
opponent. Also, it is best to present the strongest reason last so that
you leave your reader with your strongest argument freshest in his or
Thinking carefully about the sequencing of your Primary Supports puts a "spin" or accent on your argument.
Point/Counterpoint (sometimes called "concession-refutation) is an extremely persuasive and effective technique for arguing. To do Point-Counterpoint, the writer first "fairly summarizes" or even partially accepts (concedes) an opponent's argument. Then the writer REFUTES this argument with an argument of his or her own.
Let me illustrate point-counterpoint in another way. Most of us have been exposed to this technique if we have ever been approached by a salesperson trying to make a cold call quick sell. These salespersons are trained in how to "overcome objections." For example, you are sitting at home minding your own business when the phone rings and you have this conversation:
Notice what happened in this exchange. The salesman acknowledged the other person's argument, but then tried to overcome it with counterarguments of his own. This "point-counter" point technique is disarming to your opponents and extremely effective.
This technique is effective because with it you communicate to your reader that you understand both sides of the issue. It makes you sound more credible and knowledgeable on the topic and therefore more believable. You also anticipate your reader's objections and overcome them before he or she has a chance to think them. If your argument was only "one sided" and did not acknowledge or address any opposing arguments to your own, the reader might think about these opposing arguments with a question mark in his or her head. Your reader will be less convinced because he or she will still have those questions in mind.
Here are some examples of Point-Counterpoint:
No single right way exists for addressing opposing views in an argument essay. You may be confused about how to do it, so let me make some suggestions.
REMEMBER that when you do point-counterpoint, you fairly summarize an opposing view and always follow that summary with your counterargument which refutes that opposing view.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License | Contact Lirvin | Lirvin Home Page | Write Place Home