Taking a Stand: The Argument Essay
In an argument essay, you take a stand on a particular issue and expand your point of view with supporting evidence. To construct an argument, ask yourself what your main point is, and then decide why that particular point is important. For instance, would a segment of society benefit if your stance were taken? Would certain problems be eradicated? Would money be saved?
Keep in mind that you must pursue some line of thought that's open to question, or else you don't have an argument. In other words, you wouldn't write something like:
That's a simple statement of fact — there's nothing to argue. However, if you wrote that people should eat more cotton candy, you'd have the basis for debate, and you could proceed with an argument.
Before you begin, think about the evidence you can give to support your point. If you can't think of (or find through research) several reasons why your point is important, then you should abandon that particular idea because you won't be able to support it well in your essay.
According to Aristotle, argument has three types of appeal:
Ethos — the appeal of the character and credibility of the speaker or writer (establish your credentials or the credentials of those whose research you cite)
Pathos — the appeal to the emotion of your audience (ask yourself what feelings you want your audience to have)
Logos — the logical appeal through facts or reasons (present enough evidence so your readers will be convinced yours is the only sound conclusion)
The strength of argument essays lies not only in the evidence provided by writers to support their point but also in their ability to anticipate opposing arguments and to objectively disprove them.
Requirements for an argument vary with individual instructors, with various academic disciplines, and with different publications. Be sure you understand specific requirements regarding the format you must use and the type or amount of support or proof you must give.