An argument is the logical presentation of a topic supported by reasons. The term ‘argument’ has two meanings. First, it means an essay that takes a position on one side of a controversial issue. For example, you might write an argument (an essay) against the death penalty in some countries, against cloning people etc., or for censorship of pornography, for abolishing drugs etc.
But argument has another meaning, too. It means an essay that simply argues a point. You might construct an argument about the meaning of night dreams in some cultures? Or you might write an argument defending tour interpretation of a book. You are not necessarily taking one side of a controversial issue, but you are required to defend your points with persuasive evidence. You are taking a position.
An argumentative essaypresents one side of an issue using evidence to convince the reader to draw the same conclusions as the author. Personal opinions may be the foundation of an argumentative thesis, but reason, evidence and factual information must support the personal opinions to prove the argument. The process of creating a supported argument leads to further understanding and clarification of ideas presented in the essay. Through engaging in argumentation with others, opinions are refined and the decision-making process is strengthened. This circular process is argumentation.
An argument needs to be narrow enough for you to defend in the length of essay assigned. You need to be able to find enough evidence to support your assertions. You need to make a point worth arguing. A “so what?” question from your reader will not generate a strong essay. The “so what?” question is a good test for your argument.
There are different components of the argument outline: claim, evidence, reasoning, qualifiers, definition of terms etc. The three major parts of an argument? According to Stephen Toulmin, are the CLAIM, the SUPPORT, and the WARRANTS, along with three additional, optional parts. Let’s consider each of them.
CLAIM or thesis is the main point, the controlling idea of an argument. An argument seeks to instill a belief or an idea. This idea is the claim. A claim must be debatable. A claim is an expressed opinion or a conclusion that the arguer wants to be accepted.
Support: these are the reasons given in support of the claim. They are also known as evidence, premise, or grounds.Evidence consists of facts or conditions that are objectively observable, beliefs or statements generally accepted as true by the recipients, or conclusions previously established. Thus, these are the ideas in the form of facts and statistics, expert opinion, examples, explanations that lendsupport to the claim and make us believe the claim. These may or may not be debatable. While finding evidence for your argument is important, it is also important to evaluate the credibility of your information.
Warrantsare generally accepted believes and values (almost always unstated and implied) our society view things. These represent the logic of the argument – the rules of inference that lead us to conclude the claim, being given one ground or a set of grounds. Warrants provide the reasons linking the claim and the support. Reasoning constructs a rational link between the evidence and the claim and authorizes the step we make when we draw a conclusion. Reasoning answers the question “How did you get from the evidence to the claim?” Reasoning assumes that if both premises are accepted as true, then the conclusion must also be accepted as true.
Additional parts are the QUALIFIERS, the REBUTTAL, and the BACKING. Qualifiers modify the claim by reducing its scope of application.
Rebuttal is considerationof counter-arguments, or opposing claims:by this you show your reader why these are weak and why your claim is strong.
Backing orreasoning usually cites an authoritative source, or gives reasons to make the warrant more believable.