Types of Arguments

Learning Objectives

  • Examine types of argumentative essays

How to Build an Argument

Building a strong argument is a process. It requires a lot of work before you can get to writing down something that you can work with. Think of these steps as not only going in order, but being rearranged and revisited time and time again as you work through your own thoughts and opinions coupled with what you discover in your research.

  1. Identify possible topics (or review an assigned topic)
  2. Narrow it down to a manageable chunk that can be analyzed within the context of a larger issue
  3. Come up with an argument about your topic that will guide your research and analysis
  4. Develop a thesis statement
  5. Be prepared to revise your thesis statement more than once as you engage in research and draft your essay

Sometimes instructors will give you free rein on choosing your own topic, and sometimes they will assign one to you. Depending on the class theme, the type of text you interact with, and the professor, there are a variety of ways to write an argument.

In this writing workshop, we will step through this process of building an argument First, we’ll learn about arguments generally, then get assigned a topic. Using that topic, we’ll develop an initial stance, then do some basic research to create a thesis statement.

Review: Types of Arguments

First, let’s review the types of arguments. Knowing the type of argument you are asked to make can help you organize your essay and will aid you in getting started.

  • Causal Arguments
    • In this type of argument, you argue that something has caused something else. For example, you might explore the causes of the decline of large mammals in the world’s ocean and make a case for your cause.

Causal Essay OUtline

If you are assigned to write an essay about how one thing led to another, you can look at templates for causal arguments to find that it may look something like this:

  • First Piece/Introduction – In your introduction, which may be more than one paragraph, summarize the details of the issue. This may take one or two paragraphs. End with a thesis statement that makes an assertion about causes or what led to something.
  • Second Piece/Evidence – Present your detailed support for your claim with a focus on the reasons something has happened or a sequence of events that led to something.
  • Third Piece/Opposition – Address the opposing views. What problems exist with your claim? Be sure to bring the focus back to your points in relation to the causes or sequence of events you address.
  • Fourth Piece/Conclusion – Finally, in the conclusion, summarize the main points of your essay and relate your issue to the bigger picture. If you see the current situation as something that needs to change, you can call for change here, but your focus should be on emphasizing the causes of something.
  • Evaluation Arguments
    • In this type of argument, you make an argumentative evaluation of something as “good” or “bad,” but you need to establish the criteria for “good” or “bad.” For example, you might evaluate a children’s book for your education class, but you would need to establish clear criteria for your evaluation for your audience.
  • Proposal Arguments
    • In this type of argument, you must propose a solution to a problem. First, you must establish a clear problem and then propose a specific solution to that problem. For example, you might argue for a proposal that would increase retention rates at your college.
  • Narrative Arguments
    • In this type of argument, you make your case by telling a story with a clear point related to your argument. For example, you might write a narrative about your experiences with standardized testing in order to make a case for reform.
  • Rebuttal Arguments
    • In a rebuttal argument, you build your case around refuting an idea or ideas that have come before. In other words, your starting point is to challenge the ideas of the past.
  • Definition Arguments
    • In this type of argument, you use a definition as the starting point for making your case. For example, in a definition argument, you might argue that NCAA basketball players should be defined as professional players and, therefore, should be paid.

Try It

Writing WorkshoP: Types of arguments

Open your working document to the section labeled “Types of Arguments.”

Review the list of the types of arguments above. Pick THREE and write examples of arguments that fit that description. For example, an example of a causal argument could be that “In America, the decline in the popularity of baseball has contributed to increasingly disconnected communities.”



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