ARGUMENT 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 prompt (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 format: 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 Counterargument 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) Concession: MTV’s “Jackass” – “life-threatening…sickening stunts…near-fatal incidents” Sexually explicit movies, plays, and novels Joe Camel & the cigarette industry Refutation/Evidence: Saving Private Ryan - Tom Hanks’ semiautomatic stresses “dangers and urgencies of war” Entertainment used to “convey artistic concepts & ideas” = “Michelangelo’s workshop” Gabler writing during Industrial Revolution – today entertainment has evolved into art Evidence Examples (Essay 2) Concession/Refutation: 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” Concession/Refutation: 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.’” Concession/Refutation: 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 ANSWER THE PROMPT! - read all parts of the prompt carefully and be sure to respond appropriately CONNECT 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.