Thesis

Thesis

In the Discussion Forum, post your one-sentence thesis statement for the argumentative essay.  Your thesis should (a) identify your issue, (b) indicate the stance you will take on the issue, and (c) imply or state the solution you will argue toward. 

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When preparing to write your thesis statement (a) think through your essay thoroughly, considering all ramifications surrounding the issue and (b) write clearly, succinctly, and directly.  In your introduction paragraphs there should be no doubt about where the thesis statement exists.  There is no rule about where to place the thesis statement in an introduction but, whether you locate yours at the beginning, the end, or somewhere in between, it should shine clearly and speak loudly.

The Persuasive Essay

Your argumentative essay must be 5-7 pages (not including bibliography page), clearly take a definable stance regarding an issue, and defend it powerfully and effectively.  The essay should demonstrate the standards of good argumentation and clearly and fully address each aspect of Aristotle’s 6-Point Checklist for Effective Persuasion.

Structure 

Let us now consider argumentative essay structure.  What should you semi-formal argumentative essay look like?  Though there are many options available to us, we will borrow from a structure initially developed by the Greek philosopher, Aristotle, many thousands of years ago:

Aristotle’s 6-Point Checklist for Persuasion

 1. Introduction

2. Background/History

3. Proposal to Remedy

4. Argument for Proposal

5. Refutation

6. Call to Action

The model may look a bit imposing but it is really quite a direct and effective way for structuring argumentative writing.  Let’s break it down.

The Introduction is similar to others you have no doubt written.  In the introduction you should establish credibility by writing with an authoritative and knowledgeable tone from the third-person objective point of view.  This objectivity will also begin to establish your lack of bias about your issue.  Believing in a specific direction about an issue does not imply bias.  Bias exists only when writers manipulate information to their benefit. Additionally, your introduction should present your thesis statement (more on this in a moment) and introduce key concepts that we will see later in the essay.

The Background phase (just as the title suggests) informs audiences about everything you know on the subject at hand.  You’re telling a bit of a story here—informing audiences of all information surrounding the issue without bias and without yet introducing argument.  This is your opportunity to educate readers so they can make an informed decision on their own when they encounter your proposal.

The Proposal section is where you develop the change you introduced in your thesis statement.  We have seen the problem from your introduction and background.  Discuss in this section what you want to happen and what the desired outcome would be.  Be realistic in your goals—make them achievable in a reasonable time frame. 

The Argument for Proposal continues the proposal phase.  In fact, these sections are so closely intertwined as to be almost one section.  The argument phase develops the specifics of your proposal.  Introduce specifics on what should happen, how your solution would function, and who/what would be affected (and what the affects would be) by the change you desire.

The Refutation section is a vastly important aspect where you demonstrate your understanding and fairness by identifying possible opposition to your proposal.  Who would say “no” to your proposal and why do they feel the way they do?  Identify your opposition (specifically), cite their possible objections without bias, and then (for each one) state a counterargument that refutes opposition.  This tactic makes you seem knowledgeable and fair but it also takes the wind out of opposition because you’ve rendered your rationale for change superior to their positions.

The Call to Action simply re-states your proposal with more concrete data (identify who can make it happen, why it should happen, how it can happen, when it can happen, and the desired outcome of it happening).  The Call to Action leaves readers with a tangible feel and motivation for what you are asking of them specifically. 

You’ve introduced a problem, informed on its history, proposed a solution, and silenced your opposition.  Now it’s time to give readers a clear direction to take—a petition to sign, a letter to write, a vote to cast.

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