With argumentative writing, you are trying to sway an audience towards a particular point of view or towards a particular action or group of actions you feel that should be taken.
For instance, you may feel that the schools need to adopt year-round schedules. The first thing you would need to do would be to establish the basic details that you could use as evidence to support what you have to say.
You will not necessarily use everything that you come up with because of considerations about your particular purpose for writing and about your audience.
Once you have come up with potential supporting material, you need to choose an audience. The argument you write in order to convince working mothers that year-round schooling is a good idea will use details that will appeal to them and to their needs.
For instance, you could point out that working families will not have to make alternate arrangements for child care during long summer breaks. Instead, they will have shorter, more manageable breaks to work around. You could also point out the benefits to the children. With shorter breaks, there is less time to forget material learned during the term. Also, if there are difficulties encountered, supplementary instruction is generally available during the breaks.
The argument you write in order to convince high-schoolers that this is a good idea will be somewhat different, using details that are more geared to their needs and wants.
For instance, it has been suggested that many colleges look favorably upon students from year-round systems since they are more accustomed to continuous learning. Also, it has also been suggested that potential employers also look kindly upon students from year-round schools since the students’ schedules more closely match those of the working world.
Audience, of course, as well as your purpose (and to a lesser degree, role) helps to determine your language choices. However, denotation and connotation also play a large role. Read these two sentences.
–Johnny was very thrifty and always kept the club’s budget balanced.
–Johnny was very parsimonious and always kept the club’s budget balanced.
Which of the two sentences above sounds more negative? Even if you don’t know that ‘parsimonious’ means -excessive unwillingness to spend, I’m assuming that sentence was probably your choice.
Evidence and Bulletproofing
You also need to consider bulletproofing your arguments. Sit down and consider the various ways people might try to undermine your argument. After identifying these, try to incorporate details that will help protect your paper from counter arguments.
(Some say that year-round schedules increase drop-out rates; if you go ahead and bring this up and then COUNTER it with evidence to the contrary, you will have successfully bulletproofed your paper against that particular counter-argument.)
The key word in any argumentative or persuasive paper is evidence. You can have any opinion you want, but you must provide accurate, reliable evidence from personal observation and/or supplemental evidence from supporting material (researched sources). With little or no support, yo’e arguments carry little or no weight since you are asking your audience to take what you say at face value and without using critical thinking.
Supporting material, by the way, doesn’t necessarily HAVE to agree with your argument. Certainly, people agreeing with what you have to say is, of course, a good thing. However, material that goes against what you have to say, if your argument is good enough, can serve as a “whipping post” against which you can compare your argument and show why the other point of view is either wrong outright or is simply less effective than yours.
(If you were arguing for the president’s Social Security plan over alternative plans, for instance, you could do a point by point comparison and show how the president’s plan is simply better.)
However, do not provide the other side’s arguments unless you are prepared to refute them. Doing so otherwise undermines your point of view. Also, do not use unnecessary qualifiers like “It is only an opinion,” or “I could be wrong, but,” etc. These also undermine your arguments. One of the things that will help you in this regard is the use of third person point of view. Do not say “I,” “me,” “my,” “you,” etc. in this paper unless you have gained advance permission from your professor to do so.
When you are searching for supporting material, think critically about what is being said. As previously stated, anyone can have any opinion he or she wants as long as he or she can adequately support it.
Religion and Emotion
Do not mistake emotion for evidence. Appeals to emotion may produce anger or a tear or two, but they also tend to turn off those who do not already believe the way that you do.
Similarly, arguments based entirely on religion also tend to reach only those who already feel the way you do. Religion and emotion should be used like salt and pepper: they add flavor, but they should never be the main dish.
History and Philosophy Argumentative Topics
- How does activism throughout history ties in with activism in the present?
- One of the amendments in the Bill of rights has the most significant role in fulfilling the goals of the constitution as stated in the preamble. Think carefully about each amendment and choose the one you believe upholds the constitution the best.
- Plesiadapiform is a potential prosecutor to primates. For this assignment you must argue why you think your chosen Plesiadapiform is a potential precursor to primates.
- The apparent loss of philosophical innovation in the Roman Empire was the result of the rise of Christianity and not the redirection of resources to maintain the empire against the Barbarian migrations- or did philosophical innovation continue in news form?
- Do you think that Descartes and Socrates would agree about Descartes’ conclusion to the wax meditation?
General argumentative topics
- Is struggling essential to happiness?
- Do parents have different hopes and standards for their sons & daughters?
- Should Overweight people give up medication and go on a plant based diet? Why or why not? In other words, is medication the answer to health & weight problems or is eliminating toxic food from the body the answer? Can’t choose both.
- Graffiti: is it vandalism or art?
- Compare and contrast surveillance as used in the United Kingdom via CCTV and how surveillance is used in the book 1984
- Which option is better between real estate and 401k investing when looking to save for retirement?
- Is American Culture more influenced or informed by the media?
- Is the Death Penalty as it is administered in this country an appropriate method of punishment? Why or why not?
- Should college athletes be paid?
English 101 Topics
- Can government require you to wear a mask in public?
- The Importance of Learning to read and write.
- The sale, trade, or donation of human organs. Persuades an audience to accept your explanation of the causes and effects of your chosen trend or phenomenon related to the sale, trade, or donation of human organs.
- Evaluating Music as Cultural Critique.
- Why do we need Feminist Economics? Should include: wage gap, participation in the workplace, and any other arguments you want to include.
- Is Social Media Making Us More Narcissistic?
- The drinking age should be lowered from the age of 21 to 18
- Gender roles in Rebecca West’s Return of a Soldier.
- How well do you think standardized test measure your ability?
- How has technology positively affected us?
- Should juveniles do life without parole for committing a heinous crime?
- How smartphones have ruined generation z?
Controversial argumentative topics
- United States is/not a democracy
- Mexico immigration to the U.S
- Gun control
- School shooting
- Human freedom
- Arranged marriage
- September 11/conspiracy theories
- Intelligent design/creationism
- Comparison of political candidates or parties
- Corporate power
- Big money on politics
- The rich should pay more taxes