Argumentation — clear thinking, logic to convince reader of the soundness of a particular opinion on a controversial issue.

Persuasion — emotions used to convince reader to take a particular action.

Persuasion and argumentation are often combined.

“Logos” or soundness of argument — facts, statistics, examples, authoritative statements to support viewpoint. Evidence must be unified, specific, sufficient, accurate, and representative. Main strength of argument.

“Pathos” — appeals to readers’ needs, values, and attitudes, encouraging them to commit themselves to a viewpoint or course of action. Pathos derived from language (connotative — strong emotional overtones).

“Ethos” — credibility and integrity. Prove to reader that you’re knowledgeable and trustworthy. Give a balanced approach, acknowledge differing points of view, and give lots of support for your viewpoint.

Structure — beginning — identify controversy about issue, state position in thesis. Provide background information.

— body — give strong support for thesis, meets the needs of logos, pathos, and ethos.

Goodwill — readers are more likely to listen to an argument if it is reasoned, cool, calm, and relatively dispassionate. Focus on the issues, not the reader or opponent.

Refutations — restate opposing points of view, acknowledge the validity of some of the arguments given by opponents, point out common grounds, present evidence for your position.

Building Blocks – state and explain facts; refer to an appropriate authority (document or expert person); provide and explain/interpret plenty of examples; predict the consequences of doing/not doing an action; refute the opposition; make a recommendation; make a call to action.

Inductive reasoning — draw a conclusion from using specific details. That is, observing the way certain specific (individual) things happen and then applying that individual observation to a more general population. (For example, seeing on apple fall and concluding that gravity affects it and, therefore, gravity will affect other things and make other things fall down as well.)

Deductive reasoning — apply a generalization to a specific case. That is, observing the way many things happen and then apply that general observation to a specific instance. (For example, seeing that everything falls down toward the ground – by way of the force of gravity – and then observing or predicting that one particular apple, if dropped, will probably fall down toward the ground as well.)

Problems to avoid — faulty conclusions, post hoc fallacy (cause-effect sequential but not related); non sequitur fallacy (conclusion has no connection to evidence); ad hominem argument (attach person rather than point of view); faulty authority (when authority is in doubt); begging the question (reader expected to accept a controversial premise without proof); false analogy (two things share all characteristics if they share only a few); either-or fallacy (viewpoint can only have one of two solutions); red herring argument (deflect attention).

The Assignment:

Please peruse a recent (less than six months old) news article from a newspaper, magazine, journal, or the Internet. Find a topic that is controversial – There need to be two distinct perspectives/sides to the issue for it to be considered controversial.

Please submit a copy of the article, or a link to it, and submit it along with your essay so that I may read it. For this essay, you must provide a Works Cited page and list your original article, at least. Of course, you are encouraged to use more than one outside source to help support your point of view.


  1. Your first option is to take the issue you have chosen and briefly discuss it from both sides of the argument. That is, you will write a brief paper for the “pro” or positive side and another, completely separate, brief paper for the “con” or negative side of the issue. The papers must focus on the same article/issue and should be considered two separate papers. Each will need a Works Cited page but you only have to provide one copy of the original article.
  1. Your second option is to take the issue you have chosen and discuss it in greater depth. This discussion will be to prove only one side of the argument. This paper will require a Works Cited page and, because you will go into greater detail, it is expected that you will provide more than one outside source to help support your opinion. Again, please attach a copy of the original article with your essay.

Some things to think about:

  1. Although you are stating an opinion and trying to prove that your opinion is correct, this is not merely an opinion paper. You must support your overall opinion (your thesis statement) with an abundance of proofs (details, examples, explanations, quotations, references to authorities, facts, and numbers/statistics).
  2. All good arguments must contain a refutation of the counterargument. You simply cannot be convincing unless you can examine your opponent’s position and disprove it (take it apart and show how it is wrong and yours is right).
  1. Some general tips. Your essay should have the following characteristics:
  1. Formatting: It should follow MLA formatting.
  2. Grammar: It should have few if any errors in grammar, mechanics, usage, or punctuation.
  3. Organization: It should be clear and easy to read, with a clear thesis statement, clear topic sentences, and well-organized paragraphs.
  4. Content: It should have something significant to say, and your ideas should be abundantly supported.
  5. Style: It should show your voice as a writer and should be recognizable as such. That is, this paper should show how you write papers, your voice, your perspective; it should be uniquely yours. Although other people could write about the same topic, no one can do it just like you!


All papers must have the following characteristics:

1) Double-spaced

2) Use a sans-serif font such as Ariel or Helvetica

3) 12 point height (neither less nor more)

4) Follow consistent MLA formatting

5) Submitted via our Canvas site.

6) Length: Two-paper option – each paper will be two or more pages long. One-paper option – this paper will be four or more pages long. Please submit them as one file if possible.

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