The Essay: Counter-Argument & Rebuttal Paragraph

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The Essay:

Counter-Argument & Rebuttal Paragraph

Rebuttal, or counter-argument, paragraphs are more often found in term papers, however they may be used in middle school and high school argumentative essays. Here we explain the concept and provide a sample of a counter-argument rebuttal paragraph.

Essay Writing - The Opposing Argument

A rebuttal paragraph is designed to introduce the opposing argument, to show that you are open to additional opinions, but concludes with you arguing why the opposition is incorrect. This last part is especially important - you don't want to give the opposition a free paragraph that could undermine your argument!

Sample of a Counter-Argument & Rebuttal

The following example is from an essay on Homer's Odyssey. The essay's thesis was that the gods enforce justice in a fair manner. The counter-argument, as explained below, tries to refute that. The rebuttal part is shown in bold:

It could be argued that the gods only enforce their brand of justice when it seems convenient to them. Zeus complains that "the way these mortals blame the gods" is "shameless" (Homer 1:37) while Athena asks him if he has "no care for [Odysseus] in your lofty heart?" (Homer 1:72). Despite the fact that Odysseus' house is besieged by suitors, the gods do not punish them immediately - it takes years before they meet their fates. The gods seem slow acting, even reluctant to deal with such problems. Athena takes up Orestes' case not because he is a suppliant, but because the Furies will spread "the venom of their pride, plague everlasting blights of our land" (Aeschylus Eumenides 493-494) if they "fail to win their day in court." (Aeschylus Eumenides 492). She also stops Odysseus' plan to kill the army of elders, even though she had just helped murder the suitors. The Furies point out these inconsistencies, saying that "the laws of god may veer from north to south / we Furies plead for Measure" (Aeschylus Eumenides 540-541). But despite these contradictions, the gods actually have an interest in seeing justice dealt fairly. Athena's actions prevent Odysseus from slaughtering an innocent group of men and end the cycle of violence that plagued the house of Atreus. The gods are designed like mortals and therefore aren't perfect, but their actions show that their goal is to assist mankind, not subjugate it.

Rebuttal paragraphs can be placed either before your conclusion or shortly after your introduction paragraph. The choice is based upon your style and/or teacher's preference.

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