How to Write Effective Arguments with Good Reasons
Writing arguments is a skill that can help you in many situations, from academic assignments to professional communication. But how can you write arguments that are persuasive, respectful, and responsible A useful guide for this purpose is Good Reasons with Contemporary Arguments, a textbook by Lester Faigley, Jack Selzer, Jessica Enoch, and Scott Wible.
This book teaches you how to find good reasons to support your position on any topic, and how to present them in a clear and engaging way. It also shows you how to explore controversies, read critically, analyze visual arguments, conduct research, and document sources. Moreover, it provides you with a variety of contemporary readings on relevant issues, such as immigration, social media, education, and health.
In this article, we will summarize some of the main points from the book and give you some tips on how to apply them to your own writing.
What Exactly Is an Argument
An argument is not just a fight or a disagreement. According to Good Reasons with Contemporary Arguments, an argument is \"a form of communication that tries to persuade an audience to accept a claim\" (p. 3). A claim is the main point or thesis of your argument, and an audience is the person or group of people you are trying to convince.
Arguments are everywhere: in advertisements, speeches, editorials, blogs, reviews, essays, and more. They are also part of everyday conversations: when you ask for a raise, recommend a movie, or debate a policy. Arguments can have different purposes: to inform, to persuade, to entertain, to express feelings, or to explore ideas.
Writing arguments in college can help you develop critical thinking skills, learn about different perspectives, and communicate effectively. However, writing arguments also requires responsibility and respect. You need to be honest about your sources and evidence, acknowledge opposing views and possible objections, and avoid personal attacks or fallacies.
How to Find Good Reasons
A good reason is a statement that supports your claim and that your audience will find convincing. Good reasons are based on facts, logic, values, or emotions. However, not all reasons are equally good for all audiences. You need to consider the following factors when choosing your reasons:
Your rhetorical situation: the context, purpose, audience, and genre of your argument.
Your common ground: the shared beliefs or assumptions between you and your audience.
Your credibility: the trustworthiness and expertise that you establish with your audience.
Your tone: the attitude or emotion that you convey with your words.
To find good reasons for your argument, you can use various strategies:
Brainstorming: generating as many ideas as possible without judging them.
Freewriting: writing continuously without stopping or editing.
Clustering: grouping related ideas together in a visual map.
Asking questions: using who, what, when, where, why, and how to explore your topic.
Researching: finding reliable sources of information on your topic.
How to Present Your Argument
Once you have found good reasons for your argument, you need to organize them in a clear and coherent way. A common structure for arguments is the Toulmin model, which consists of six elements:
Claim: the main point or thesis of your argument.
Data: the evidence or facts that support your claim.
Warrant: the connection or assumption that links your data to your claim.
Backing: the additional support or justification for your warrant.
Qualifier: the word or phrase that indicates the strength or scope of your claim (such as sometimes,
Rebuttal: the acknowledgment or refutation of opposing views or counterarguments.
An example of an argument using the Toulmin model is:
Claim: You should buy organic food.Data: Organic food is healthier than conventional 061ffe29dd