Classical Argument
Parts and Processes
What is it?
• One of the oldest known forms
for making an argument
(Greeks, 5th century BC)
• A series of steps to make sure
you’ve covered everything you
need to build a solid argument.
• Does not guarantee a perfect
argument, but can help give
your paper structure and make
sure you’ve covered your
bases.
Five-part Process
• Introduction – Lead-in to your
argument, establishes
connection to the topic and
states theme/thesis.
• Narration – Presents the topic
more fully, provides needed
background information, and
establishes necessity/what’s at
stake.
• Confirmation – Provides your
claims and evidence in support
of your side of the argument.
Five-part Process (cont’d)
• Concession and Refutation –
Concedes valid points of the
opposition (as much as possible
without damaging thesis) and
offers refutations to arguments
for the other side.
• Conclusion – Wraps up
argument, summarizes points,
and strengthens the argument
with a final plea or
reinforcement of points made.
Introduction/Narration
• Two parts often run together in
writing.
• Attracts interest to the subject.
(Audience)
• Provides necessary background
on general and specific topics.
(Animal testing/medical)
• Establishes your position on the
argument (thesis statement).
• Establishes your role – your
relationship to the argument,
why it matters, and the tone
you will be using (aggressive,
caring, passionate…angry?)
Questions for
Introduction/Narration
• What’s the situation the
argument responds to?
• What background/context is
needed?
• What are the principal issues
involved?
• Have I established my stance?
• How do I get the audience’s
attention?
• What tone do I want to
establish?
• What image of myself do I want
to project?
Confirmation – Backing It Up
• Parental approach doesn’t
work (i.e., Because I said so!)
• Provides various support for
your side of the argument.
– Facts
– Examples
– Personal experience
• Shows how this support is
actually connected to thesis.
Questions for Confirmation
• What are the arguments that
are most likely to appeal to my
audience? Which ones won’t
work for them?
• How can I show they are valid
arguments?
• What kinds of inartistic proofs
will work for them?
• Where can I find
facts/testimony to back it up?
• What kind of artistic proofs are
most likely to be effective?
Concession
• Give a little – but not too
much.
• There is always some
common ground – find it.
• Shows that you are
considering both sides –
gives balance.
Refutation
• Counters the opposition
arguments.
• Four strategies:
– Show they are incorrect/wrong
using facts.
– Show the limits of the argument
(situational).
– Show that other considerations
outweigh their points.
– Show logical fallacies in their
argument. (pg. 40-42)
Questions for
Concession/Refutation
• What are the most important
opposing arguments?
• How much can I concede
without weakening my
argument?
• What is the best way to refute
opposition arguments?
• What are possible objections
to/ misunderstandings of my
opinion? How can I deal with
them?
Conclusion
• Often the hardest part to write
effectively.
• Step back a little – look at the
whole again.
• Show why a solution to the
argument is important, and why
yours is the best.
• Show the possible benefits of
accepting your solution/side.
• Don’t leave them hanging – last
chance to leave an impression.
• Don’t just restate.
Questions for Conclusion
• How can I best leave a strong
final impression of
rightness/importance?
• How can I best
summarize/exemplify my most
important arguments?
• What is the larger significance
of my argument?
• What are the long-range
implications?
• How can I bring things full circle
and leave my audience
satisfied?
The End
PowerPoint by William Folden
Adapted from web presentation by Dr. Josephine
Koster of material from Real Writing (2nd Edition) by
Walter Beale (1986).
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