The use of evidence and
reason to defend a stance
or point of view
The Claim
 The
debatable and controversial
statement or assertion the speaker hopes
to prove.
We make claims about matters that are
uncertain, that we can’t establish
absolutely or definitely.
Note: Some claims must be qualified/limited.
Sample Argument Prompt
2003 Prompt
In his 1998 book Life the Movie: How Entertainment Conquered
Reality, Neal Gabler wrote the following.
One does not necessarily have to cluck in disapproval to admit that
entertainment is all the things its detractors say it is: fun, effortless,
sensational, mindless, formulaic, predictable, and subversive. In fact, one
might argue that those are the very reasons so many people love it.
At the same time, it is not hard to see why cultural aristocrats in the
nineteenth century and intellectuals in the twentieth hated entertainment
and why they predicted, as one typical nineteenth century critic railed,
that its eventual effect would be “to overturn all morality, to poison the
springs of domestic happiness, to dissolve the ties of our social order, and
to involve our country in ruin.
Write a thoughtful and carefully constructed essay in which you use
specific evidence to defend, challenge, or qualify the assertion that
entertainment has the capacity to “ruin” society.
Take a position
 Defend
(Agree) – Support a claim/position in a
 Challenge
(Disagree) – Go against a
claim/position in a prompt
 Qualify
– Agree or disagree but with limitations
(give exceptions)
In your CLAIM (i.e. your thesis), you must state
your position.
Writing an Effective Claim
 Recommended
C – Concession (Although; despite)
A – Argument (Statement of position)
B – Because (Statement of reasons) **
** Does not need to be stated explicitly in the thesis, but it
should be part of the thought process and planning.
Sample Thesis Statements
(Essay 1) Claim: Although some proclaim that the
entertainment industry has poisoned society,
entertainment operates on a far more positive
position for society.
(Essay 2) Claim: …certainly, I agree that some
extreme forms of entertainment do have the
capacity to “ruin.” However, in most instances of
“risky” books, movies, and plays – entertainment
(conservatively seen as damnable) has
something to offer beyond the cover, that most
people are not willing to look for.
Use appropriate evidence
 Provides
the data to support the claim (Answers
the question, “Why should I believe you?)
 Successful
evidence is concrete and specific,
not vague, generic, or hypothetical
 Types
of concrete evidence:
Hard Evidence: Facts, statistics, citing authorities,
logos appeals, ethos appeals
Soft Evidence: Personal experience, anecdote,
pathos appeals
 Concession
– Acknowledgment of the
opposition and its argument(s)
 Refutation
- Counters the opposition’s position
with appropriate evidence
Option 1: Concede a point of the opposition, but
establish claim with stronger reasons/evidence
Option 2: Counter point by point
Evidence Examples
(Essay 1)
MTV’s “Jackass” – “life-threatening…sickening stunts…near-fatal incidents”
Sexually explicit movies, plays, and novels
Joe Camel & the cigarette industry
Saving Private Ryan - Tom Hanks’ semiautomatic stresses “dangers and
urgencies of war”
Entertainment used to “convey artistic concepts & ideas” = “Michelangelo’s
Gabler writing during Industrial Revolution – today entertainment has evolved
into art
Evidence Examples
(Essay 2)
C - The Full Monty considered lewd
R - “not about stripping at all, but rather, a group of men doing what was
necessary to keep wives, pay rent, please their children, and provide for
their families”
C - The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn racist because of use of “n******”
R - “great relationships between blacks & whites, discover the harsh
reality of a black man’s life in the 1800’s and also watch a white boy
grow from a ‘hater to a lover.’”
C - John Wayne movies; Hitchcock’s Psycho; A Beautiful Life – “others see
it as outrageous and inappropriate”
R – Beauty is in the eye of the beholder; “there is beauty in it all, it just
needs to be found”
Final Tips
THE PROMPT! - read all parts of the
prompt carefully and be sure to respond
IT TOGETHER! - Don’t just give the
evidence and assume the reader “gets it” –
be sure to explain how and why the evidence
supports your claim.
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