Chapter 2 How Do We Argue

Two Ways Arguments Can Be Defined:

  1. By their function, or what they do
  2. By their form, or how they're structured

Where Do We Find Arguments?
Catalyst: a gap or imperfection, an unknown answer, or an unsolved problem that matters to the writer

  • All arguments (whether they intend to solve practical problems or simply deepen our understanding of an issue) begin with a question or uncertainty and use some method of investigation and care building to arrive at a conclusion

How De We Build Arguments?

  • Thesis - an argument's central claim (a debatable or controversial idea that's proposed to an audience)
  • Supporting Claims - claims are controversial or open to question, so they are paired with some kind of support that can be trusted
  • Linkage - an explanation of how a support holds up a claim
  • Implications - the consequences, effects, or larger significance of an argument
  • Evidence - includes anything observable (primary source; something you can collect and analyze yourself)
    • Empirical date
    • Personal experience
    • Textual evidence
  • Verification - includes things that can be looked up (secondary source; someone else has already analyzed of interpreted the evidence)
    • Previous research
    • Law or precedence
    • Established theory
  • Illustrations - involve things imaginable (original source; one you create or borrow for a particular argument)
    • Fictional narrative
    • Hypothetical example
    • Analogy or metaphor


  • Effective arguments always build on some basis of acceptance or agreement
  • Assumptions make up the bulk of the total argument
  • Arguments that anticipate disconnects (objections and unshared assumptions) have the best chance for changing our audience's mind
  • Increased controversy requires increased explanation

Three Common Mistakes Made By Apprentice Scholars and How To Avoid Them:

  1. Arguing the Obvious
    • Read more
    • Ask an expert
  2. Arguing without support
    • Highlight you argument
    • Consult a reader
  3. Supporting without arguing
    • Use topic sentences
    • Search for stranded support
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