How to Argue in an Essay

How to Argue in an Essay

Essentially, an essay is a way of convincing your reader of something. In other words, it is the written form of an argument. In this short essay, our assignment help team shall examine several methods we can employ to ensure our argumentation is cogent, clear, concise and logical and the impact that can have on the quality of your written work.

The flow of thought.

For an argument to make sense, it needs to follow a pattern of thought that is logically consistent. It would not make sense to argue about the value of currency in an enlightened society by describing classical music in the first paragraph, writing about the Canadian logging industry in the second and, a poem about love in the third.

The key to a good flow of thought in an argument is structure. A good argument in an essay will have a short and intriguing introduction in which you outline the case you wish to make. The essay will then focus on a handful of relevant and linked points that bolster the case you are arguing. A great argument will also consider any proper objections to the points you are submitting and how to answer those objections satisfactorily. Finally, a good essay will end with a conclusion that summarises the main points and leaves the reader with a sense of resolution.

Be logical.

Logic is a crucial component in proper argumentation. It should go without saying that a logically inconsistent argument is not one that holds ground and you won't just lose the argument; you'll likely lose the reader.

But what are some common logical mistakes in essay writing? Here's 5 of the biggest.

  • The Strawman fallacy.

In short, this is where you misrepresent the opposing argument to make it easier to attack. An emotive but good example of this kind of error could be in a pro-life vs. Pro-choice argument where one side is accused of bigotry and ignorance and the other as being immoral. There's always nuance to a position, to avoid the strawman fallacy, find the nuance to your counter-arguments.

  • Appeal to emotion.

This is where you try to manipulate your reader into an emotional response that gets in their way of making a clear, reasoned conclusion.

Don't be afraid to use emotive language or even to appeal to an emotional element of your argument if it is relevant to the case, however, avoid using a strong emotional appeal to manipulate a win.

  • Special pleading.

You are special pleading if you don't set your argument on solid ground. By that I mean, if you acknowledge a severe challenge to the validity of your argument and then alter the foundations of your reasoning to avoid that challenge, you are special pleading.

  • Loaded premise.

This occurs when you make presumptions about opposing arguments and use them as a basis to undermine the argument.

For example, if you are arguing that Dracula is all about love and you want to challenge the argument that Dracula is all about death, you would be committing this error if you claimed that it is stupid to think it is all about death. Therefore, Dracula is not all about death.

  • Ambiguity.

This is a big issue when it comes to argumentation. Uncertainty can be a way of disguising a weak argument behind double meaning or unclear conclusions. Avoid ambiguity at all costs if you want to make a good argument.

End things well.

When wrapping up your essay, make sure you remind your reader of your main points and talk about how they all tie together to create a coherent whole.

It's sometimes helpful to think of a good argument in an essay as a plane journey. The take-off is where you state your premise, what it is you intend to argue. The bulk of the flight is devoted to making your main points. Turbulence in this analogy would be the logical fallacies we discussed. Finally, you land the plane on the runway by summarising the journey so far and looking to the future.

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