What is an argumentative essay

The purpose of an argumentative essay is to demonstrate that your assertion (opinion, theory, hypothesis) about some phenomenon or phenomena is correct or more accurate than others’. Argumentative writing is the act of forming reasons, making inductions, drawing conclusions, and applying them to the case in discussion; the operation of inferring propositions, not known or admitted as true, from facts or principles known, admitted, or proved to be true. It clearly explains the process or line of your reasoning from the known or assumed to the unknown. Without doing this you do not have an argument, you have only an assertion, an essay that is just your unsubstantiated opinion.

Notice that you do not have to completely prove your point; you only have to convince reasonable readers that your argument or position has merit; i.e., that it is somehow more accurate and complete than competing arguments.

Argumentative essays are often organized in the following way:

  1. They begin with a statement of your assertion, its timeliness, significance, and relevance in relation to some phenomenon.
  2. They review critically the literature about that phenomenon.
  3. They describe how your assertion is “better” (simpler or more explanatory) than others, including improved (i.e., more reliable or valid) methods that you used to accumulate the data (case) to be explained.

Do not be afraid to revise your essay! In fact, you will probably want to change it at least once; this is called “thinking through a ‘problem'” or “learning.” Revisions will consist of those steps indicated in previous sections.

Additionally, you will want to figure out how your readers will object to your argument. Will they say that you have used imprecise concepts? Have you erred in collecting data? Your argument is only as strong as the objections to it. If you cannot refute or discount an objection, then you need to rethink and revise your position.

See: Argumentative Essay Sample
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