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Making Arguments: Reason in Context

Do not believe it. Instructors want to see evidence that you have read the work in question with enough seriousness to reply to the prompts given in your own way. Remember: If an answer seems obvious, keep digging. Make no mistake: a sense of audience and information about the author can be important.

The Making of Arguments by J. H. Gardiner

When these details become central to the essay, however, you are no longer writing on literature. This statement reflects a personal reaction to the work. If you want to show that a particular piece or part of a piece is better or worse than others, begin with your evidence rather than starting with emotion. On the 30th of April he was arrested on charges of. Although evidence is vital to a sound paper, the statement above focuses on historical rather than critical evidence.


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If you include biographical information, always be ready to direct that information back into the main point of the essay. Stray from your topic only as long as is strictly necessary. N either will be convinced because they sense that the other person is being unfair. The most likely result is an unproductive squabble.

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Winning an argument permanently would mean convincing the other person that his or her position is invalid and your position is correct. A ccording to a recent article in The Atlantic , the best way to accomplish this is to create a " steelman " rather than a strawman version of the other person's argument.

You then argue against the steelman before presenting your own position. To create a steelman, you put yourself in the shoes of the other person and muster from your own imagination the strongest arguments in favor of that position. This completely disarms the other person, if only because it's so unexpected. By correctly and positively characterizing Joe's position, Jane has increased her credibility.

She's also gone through a mental exercise that will allow her to more objectively understand Joe's position. She may even have discovered that Joe's idea is better than hers! But let's suppose that Jane still believes her position is correct.

The 7 Building Blocks of Effective Arguments

By creating a steelman, she has surfaced all the points that she'll need to argue against to convince Joe that he's wrong. That might look like this:.

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Jane has effectively neutralized anything that Joe might say at this point, but without attacking Joe or unfairly characterizing his position. This leaves the field free for Jane to present her own argument, like so:. Chance are that Jane's arguments will win, especially if she presents her own steelman, thereby making it difficult for Joe to create a strawman.

But what if Joe takes the same approach as Jane and himself creates and attacks a steelman version of Jane's position?

The Making of Arguments by J. H. Gardiner - Free Ebook

So much the better for everyone involved and for the company, too. Rather than squabbling and name-calling, Jane and Joe are now discussing the real issues, with both fully understanding the other's position. They're far more likely to reach agreement on the wisest way to spend the marketing budget. And that's win-win. Joe: "Our current website doesn't create any sales leads, so why throw good money after bad? What's the point? Jane: "Trade shows can create a lot of value for our company. In addition to generating sales leads, they give our salespeople and engineers to the opportunity to bond with customers.