Organizing A Causal Argument

Organizational Structure A: Multiple Causes

I. Introduce the issue and state your claim.

  • Engage reader's interest in the problem you have identified and establish that it is a problem.
  • Show what's at stake — make your reader care about it.
  • State your claim.

II. State the causes of this problem and support your analysis.

  • Describe the first possible cause or consequence and explain your reasoning.
  • Continue with the rest of your causes or consequences.
  • Arrange causes or consequences in increasing order of importance or significance.

III. Respond to possible objections to your argument.

  • Anticipate and summarize possible objections.
  • Respond through rebuttal, concession, or the concession and refutation format (this is true for x, but it is wrong to think this because y)

IV. Conclude.

  • Sum up your argument.
  • Provide a clear description of what's at stake.
  • End with something memorable.

Remember, each section will involve multiple paragraphs. Also, remember to always begin and end with your strongest points — bury the weak stuff in the middle.


Organizational Structure B: Everyone else is wrong, otherwise known as the Surprising Cause

I. Introduce the issue and state your claim.

  • Engage reader's interest in the problem you have identified and establish that it is, in fact, a problem.
  • Show what's at stake — make us care about it.
  • State your claim.

II. Reject commonly assumed causes or consequences.

  • Describe the first commonly assumed cause and explain why this is not the case.
  • Continue with the rest of your commonly assumed causes and why this assumption misses the mark.

III. Argue for your surprising cause or consequence.

  • Describe the cause or causes you have identified.
  • Explain your reasoning — support, support, support!
  • Anticipate and respond to possible objections.

IV. Conclude.

  • Sum up your argument.
  • Provide a clear description of what's at stake.
  • End with something memorable.

Remember, each section will involve multiple paragraphs. Also, remember to always begin and end with your strongest points — bury the weak stuff in the middle.

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