Structuring your argument



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STRUCTURING YOUR ARGUMENT

  • You must also submit a plan before you begin to write your essay. The following plan STRUCUTRE is the most straightforward:
  • Paragraph 1 State your opinion
  • Paragraph 2 Present your first point in support of your position and develop the paragraph with evidence, quotations, etc.
  • Paragraph 3 State your next point in support of your position and develop.
  • Paragraph 4 State your next point in support, etc.
  • Paragraph 5 Introduce an argument/arguments against your position but refute this argument, countering it with appropriate, balanced arguments.
  • Paragraph 6 Restate your opinion. Draw on some of arguments/summarise your strongest points in order to finish in the strongest possible way.
  • Marking criteria
  • Techniques your marker will be looking for in persuasive essays:
  • Formal language
  • Emotive language
  • Linking words and phrases
  • Persuasive words
  • Facts, opinions, statistics, quotations
  • Direct language

Argumentative Writing

  • The main requirements of the argumentative essay are that it will:
  • Communicate a clear line of thought
  • Present two sides of an argument
  • Convey a tone which is measured, reasonable yet carries personal conviction
  •  
  • You will have to prepare thoroughly before you begin. Be sure to choose a topic you are passionate about, research it and plan it.
  • The following plan for argumentative writing is most straightforward:
  • Paragraph 1 Introduce your subject and outline the issues you intend to discuss. You could even open with a strong fact, opinion or statistic.
  • Paragraph 2 Introduce one side of the argument, give evidence to support it, and comment or evaluate the evidence. (FOR)
  • Paragraph 3 Introduce another argument to support this side of the argument, give evidence and comment or evaluate. (FOR)
  • Paragraph 4 Introduce the opposing side of the argument, give evidence to support it and comment or evaluate. (AGAINST)
  • Paragraph 5 Introduce another argument that opposes the argument, give evidence and comment. (AGAINST)
  • Paragraph 6 Summarise the opposing viewpoints and balance out your evidence. Conclude your essay coming to some sort of opinion. You do not have to take a side, your decision can be neutral.
  • (OR your plan can be FOR, AGAINST, FOR, AGAINST. As long as it is balanced!)
  • Marking criteria
  • Techniques your marker will be looking for in argumentative essays:
  • Formal language
  • Linking words
  • Facts, statistics, quotations
  • Persuasive language
  • Objective tone

Give reasons for your opinions!

  • Smoking Pollution
  • Smoking ban Gambling
  • Nuclear power Substance abuse in sport
  • Nuclear arms Arming the police
  • Animal experiments Bigfoot: real or hoax?
  • Euthanasia Stem cell research
  • Capital punishment Cervical cancer jab for teens
  • Vegetarianism Designer babies (to prevent disease)
  • Third world debt MMR jab
  • Scottish independence Cigarette companies advertising abroad
  • Iraq war Fox hunting
  • Legalisation of cannabis NHS vs Private Health Care
  • Private Education Immigration
  • Asylum Seekers The car
  • Computer games Arranged marriages
  • Marriage relevant today Having children is not always a good thing
  • School uniforms Climate change
  • Religious dress Violence on TV
  • Genetic food engineering Military/community service for all school leavers
  • Boxing Sex education in schools
  • Gay marriage Prison
  • Loch Ness Monster Man landing on the moon

Example Topic Outline

  • Euthanasia, legalisation of?
  •  
  • Para 1 Growing popularity and support
  • Para 2 first and foremost it’s a human right. Develop argument about humans having the right to choose anything. Give other medical examples.
  • Para 3 Dignity in death. Case studies? Ending life without dignity.
  • Para 4 Aside from individual arguments in support, significant potential advantage for society. Saves money for NHS. Facts and figures for terminal care costs.
  • Para 5 Comparison of UK to other countries where euthanasia is legal. Statistics, quotations, safeguards and laws.
  • Para 6 Objections from moral and religious points of view? However…
  • Para 7 Conclusion.

Consider...

  • a) Is this an example of a persuasive plan or an argumentative plan?
  • b) In your group, can you rework this plan to change it into a persuasive or argumentative plan instead? You can add other arguments if you can think of more.

Activity

  • Look at the following structure of an argumentative essay on handguns:
  • Introduction – The issue of handgun ownership. A) Some believe individuals should not own handguns B) Others believe it is a personal right like any other
  •  Disadvantages – Both adults and children can have accidents. People can use guns for crime.
  •  Advantages – People can protect themselves from intruders. People may want to use them for recreational purposes.
  •  Conclusion – Summarise and evaluate. Accidents and crime could be prevented so this would make any arguments for handgun ownership very hard. Gun ownership should not be allowed in order for a better society to be created.
  • Using the above structure as a rough example of a plan, you are going to draft a discursive essay about car use. You will be given the arguments for and against. THIS EXAMPLE IS ARGUMENTATIVE, providing two sides of the topic.
  • Step 1: GATHERING/SORTING INFORMATION
  • Read through the following notes.
  •  
  • Identify the arguments FOR car use with a tick.
  • Identify the arguments AGAINST car use with a cross.
  • Not restricted with timetables and schedules as you are with public transport
  • Comfortable (spacious and cool, radio, etc.)
  • They cause air pollution/contributes to global warming
  • Roads deface natural landscape & wildlife habitats
  • Fast/less time-consuming
  • Car parks take up valuable space which could be used for better things
  • Cheap to run
  • Car accidents cause death and injury
  • Modern fuel is getting ‘cleaner’
  • Traffic jams lead to stress and road rage (road rage stats & crimes committed?)
  • Cars contribute to a faster pace of life, causing high blood pressure and heart disease
  • Now that you have sorted the arguments into ‘for’ and ‘against’ you can divide your whole essay into ‘advantages’ and ‘disadvantages’. Both sections need further divided into topics. Each topic will become a paragraph. Some of your arguments from Activity 1 will be topics/paragraphs in themselves, but some will be combined into paragraphs with other similar topics.
  •  
  • Take the advantages (all of those with a tick) and arrange them into two topics:
  • 1) convenient and
  • 2) efficient
  • Take all of the disadvantages (all of those with a cross) and arrange them into two topics:
  • bad for the environment and
  • stressful and dangerous
  • Step 2: MAKING ARGUMENTS FLOW/LINK
  • More sophisticated paragraphs begin with topic sentences and linking words. This contains the main ideas of the paragraph that is about to follow. It must then be followed by illustrations or examples (quotations, statistics, facts, cases studies, etc).
  •  
  • Write a topic sentence for each of your headings in Activity 2 (Convenient, Efficient, etc). For example, “Cars are extremely possible because they are so convenient…”
  •  
  • Do not be satisfied with the first thing you write. Share it with your group, reword each other’s, pick the best one.
  • The three functions of a topic sentence are:
  • It introduces the new argument
  • It refers to the task or has the wording of the task
  • It links to the previous paragraph
  • You should also use linking phrases and words in order to make your essay flow well. Decide which of these words or phrases goes under each heading.
  • Copy the table into your jotter
  • Contrasts
  • Reasons
  • Results
  • Additions
  • Conclusions
  • Examples
  • comparisons
  • Likewise By way of illustration In the same way Over and above Similarly In brief Inevitably For this purpose
  • In spite of this On the contrary For all that As a result
  • Moreover To conclude In other words In the same way For example For instance Similarly Finally
  • Additionally Besides this Accordingly Consequently
  • Nevertheless Nonetheless In spite of this But
  • For all that Despite this Although Also
  • As a consequence Therefore To this end Yet
  • However Hence Furthermore

Step 3: STRUCTURING YOUR ESSAY

  • The structure of your essay will be:
  • Para 1 – introduction
  • Para 2 – Convenient
  • Para 3 – Efficient
  • Para 4 – Bad for the environment
  • Para 5 – Dangerous
  • Para 6 – Stressful
  • Para 7 – Conclusion
  • OR you can start with the disadvantages first. It is up to you. However, there needs to be a structure to your introduction and conclusion too.
  • Step 4: INTRODUCTION
  • Your introduction will state that there are advantages and disadvantages to car use. However, this must sound sophisticated. It makes a stronger impact if you start with a bold or surprising statement, or even a striking statistic. Just saying “There are advantages and disadvantages to car use…” and you should never say “In this essay I am going to write about the advantages and disadvantages of car use.”
  •  
  • Example opening:
  • We have become extremely dependent on cars: there were 580 million worldwide in 2007 and it is estimated that this figure will grow to 816 million by 2010.
  • You will follow this with a summary of the main arguments contained in the essay. Present these in the order they will appear in the essay.
  • Continue the example opening in your jotter by adding sentences from the jumbled list below. Present them in the order that they should appear, according to the plan above.
  •  
  • Thirdly, some people argue that they contribute to the frantic, unhealthy pace of modern life.
  • On the other hand, there are powerful arguments against car use.
  • Firstly, they damage the environment.
  • Clearly cars are so popular because they are both convenient and efficient.
  • Secondly, they kill and main large numbers of people.
  • Step 4: THE BODY OF THE ESSAY
  • Now write the paragraphs out (paragraphs 2-6) from the plan above. Each paragraph should already have a topic sentence. Use this too. This means that you will have to support each point with illustrations, examples and evidence.
  •  
  • Example:
  • Cars are extremely popular because they are so convenient. They allow us more freedom than public transport, which is often unreliable, slow or even unavailable. Given a choice between walking in the rain to join a bus queue or stepping straight into the car and driving directly to one’s destination, who would prefer the latter? Furthermore, cars are more comfortable than buses or trains since they are less cramped and have luxuries such as an air conditioner and a sound system. (This would be even better if you could add quotations and a source!)
  • Now use the points below to complete paragraphs 3-6. On this occasion we will not add quotations/evidence, but you can do that in your own essay.
  • Fast, less time-consuming than public transport
  • Fairly cheap to run, especially if you use a small model
  • Modern fuels are lead-free and do not cause as much pollution as they used to
  • They cause air pollution (exhaust emissions contribute to global warming and health problems such as asthma)
  • Roads spoil the natural landscape and disturb wildlife habitats
  • Car parks take up valuable space in cities that could otherwise be used for recreation
  • Car accidents result in many deaths and injuries (approximately 125,000 people were killed in road crashes in 1999, according to …………… This is enough to fill 3 jumbo jets).
  • Traffic jams lead to stress and therefore ‘road rage’ (angry drivers attacking others)
  • Car use contributes to a faster, less natural pace of life that often results in high blood pressure and heart disease
  • You will need to use some of your linking words and phrases from Activity 4!
  • Step 5: CONCLUDING YOUR ESSAY
  • Finally, you need a conclusion. Avoid a weak ‘sitting on the fence’ conclusion. Instead, come to YOUR conclusion, summing up the arguments you have already covered and stating whether you agree or disagree. What argument out-weighs the other?
  • It may be effective to present the arguments with the weakest first. For example:
  • In conclusion, car ownership has several negative effects, including stress, road accidents and destruction of the natural environment. Nevertheless, we have become highly dependent on cars because of the comfort and freedom they offer. A total ban seems out of the question. Governments could not afford to replace them with such an up-dated public transport system for a start. But, for the sake of our health and the health of future generations and this planet, we MUST reduce our useage. Public transport systems need to be improved in order for this to happen and common sense, such as car pooling, surely isn’t too hard to manage for the sake of at least one person’s health.
  • You are now going to write a discursive essay of your own choice. You will need to gather as much information (through the internet, newspapers, magazines, etc). This should be your homework.
  • When you have gathered all of your information you should see how much you have for each side and decide whether it will be persuasive or argumentative.
  • Your teacher will show you some exemplar essays before you begin.
  • Step 7: DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING?
  • Your teacher will give you an exemplar essay to read.
  • You must check that it contains some of the elements of effective discursive (persuasive or argumentative) writing.
  • 1) Firstly, decide whether your essay is persuasive or argumentative.
  •  
  • 2) Now look for these things:
  •  
  • Rhetorical questions
  • Power of three
  • Emotive words
  • Bibliography
  • Repetition of words
  • Refutation of ideas
  • Topic sentences
  • Contrasts (achieved by inserting opposing arguments)
  • Use of pronouns

Summary

  • Now you need to SORT your information into for and against, GROUP similar arguments into same paragraph. Then RANK their importance (important arguments back up what you are saying, use them first) and BALANCE them against each other (similar fors and against will go into same paragraphs).


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