Please follow these instructions carefully and completely.
1. Please review chapter three and the comments you received on the two prep homeworks for this essay.
2. After reading the prompt below, think about some possible ways to respond to the various topics and choose the one that you feel will result in the best possible essay. If you are unsure if your approach is suitable, email your instructor and ask for feedback. Do NOT do any computer, book, or journal research for this essay. Simply rely on your own knowledge as a student of the College of Southern Nevada and what is logical.
3. Write a 700+ word third person argument essay in a high style (as described in chapter thirty-five). This will translate into a six or seven paragraph essay.
4. Use the correct page format for essays exactly as delineated on p537-538.
5. Once you have completed your first draft, proof your essay for content. Among other things, make sure of the following:
a) You have followed the specific paragraph structure as described below.
b) Your tone is objective and fair.
c) You have provided many specific and pertinent details.
d) You have included an underlined a very specific thesis statement in your introduction that is in your own words (and not just copied from one of the topics listed below).
e) You have started all of your middle paragraphs with topic sentences.
f) Your conclusion is full and makes its own point as opposed to just reviewing the essay.
g) The entire essay is completely in third person.
6. Next, using the directions in A Guide To Good Proofing in the handout section of modules, proof your essay for grammar. Be aware that sometimes spell-check will give you the wrong word, and sometimes grammar check is incorrect or will change the meaning of your sentence to something you didn’t intend. Proof AFTER you complete spell check and grammar check. In addition, proof after you make corrections to insure that you have not made any errors in the corrections.
7. After you have completed your last draft and are certain the essay is as perfect as you can make it, reread this assignment sheet to be certain that you have responded to all aspects of it.
8. Submit your essay as an attachment named 100, followed by your first name, followed by E#3. Do not send any message with the essay. If there is anything you want your instructor to know, send her a message through the inbox separately.
Explanation of Assignment:
Arguments serve many different purposes. All proper arguments, however, contain a levelheaded and disputable claim. A disputable claim is something that can be disagreed with. It is not a scientific fact. There must be kind, rational, and intelligent people in the world who would disagree with your claim, or you have not made a true argument. Imagine, for instance, trying to have an argument with someone about whether ice, under normal conditions, normally feels cold or hot to the touch. That would not be a true argument. Only someone who is mentally ill or who is using language differently than how people normally use it would argue that ice normally does not feel cold.
An argument essay is often written to change people’s minds about an issue. However, obviously that is not always going to be possible. Therefore, other times an argument is written to at least communicate that people who believe as you do have valid points and are kind, rational, and intelligent people worthy of respect. For instance, many people feel extremely strongly about abortion rights. It is not unusual to find people that support abortion rights who have difficulty imagining the opposing side as being kind, rational, and intelligent. Likewise, it is not unusual to find people that are against abortion rights who have difficulty imagining the opposing side as being kind, rational, and intelligent. With a controversial topic such as abortion rights, an essay would probably not be able to change anyone’s mind. However, maybe. . . just maybe. . . it is possible at least to show that your side has valid points. Ultimately, whether you hope to change people’s minds or just prove you have valid points, the essay is written in the same way.
This argument essay assignment requires that paragraphs serve particular purposes. Please follow the directions as listed below concerning the job that each paragraph must do. Remember to use transitional words and phrases as needed to make it clear to readers exactly how to apply the information in each paragraph to the thesis statement.
1. In an argument essay, the claim (which is one sentence that makes clear the writer’s view concerning the issue being argued) IS the thesis statement. In a short essay like this one, it should be in the introduction just as a thesis statement would normally be. Normally, the claim is the last sentence in the introduction.
2. The first paragraph after the introduction should concentrate on one strong piece of evidence that helps to prove the claim is true.
3. The second paragraph after the introduction should concentrate on another strong piece of evidence that helps to prove the claim is true.
4. The third paragraph after the introduction (the last paragraph of evidence) should contain the strongest piece of evidence that helps to prove the claim is true.
5. The fourth paragraph after the introduction should contain the counter-argument and the refuting of the counter-argument (see below for an explanation).
6. The last paragraph, as always, contains the conclusion and, of course, goes beyond just a mere repeating of what the essay has already covered.
Recommendations For The Argument Essay:
1) How to develop a claim (thesis statement for an argument essay) and make it narrow enough:
At first you should create a preliminary claim, so you have an idea of where to begin. Imagine you have decided to write an argument essay about how children dress. That is a pretty big topic. You could spend the rest of your college career just conducting research on it and barely scratch the surface. So, right away you should narrow down your topic. Perhaps you have a particular interest in whether or not schools should require students to wear uniforms. That’s a good start. Now, choose a particular age group such as adolescents. Now, that is much more specific and workable. Decide how you feel (yes, no, yes in some circumstances but not in others, or whatever it is), and write a claim — a sentence that states the position you intend to defend. An example of this might be: “Adolescents should not be required to wear uniforms in school because it blocks creativity at exactly the age when young people need to learn how to express themselves.” With a claim like this, everything in the essay would have to relate to adolescents and their need for creativity in regards to clothing choices. Notice that you are not just writing about school uniforms for all children. It has been narrowed down to only adolescents. In addition, you are not writing about ALL the reasons why adolescents should not have to wear school uniforms. You are addressing only one little subset of that area in relation to creativity.
One of the big mistakes students often make with this essay assignment is having too broad a focus. Please remember this. If you were writing a book, it might be possible to cover all the reasons why, for example, everyone should grow a vegetable garden. However, in a short essay like this one, you really would only be able to cover one major reason. For instance, you could focus on that growing your own vegetables in southern Nevada is healthier (with one paragraph about freshness because otherwise most of the produce has to come from out of state, one paragraph about being confident everything is organic because you can’t deal with local farmers directly if your produce is coming from out of state, and one paragraph about building muscle while doing the actual gardening while, for instance, pulling out rocks from southern Nevada’s rocky soil). The idea is to be absolutely as specific as possible and yet still have enough to say.
Another example: “People should be more considerate” is an extremely general claim (not to mention that it might be hard to find anyone who is kind, rational, and intelligent who would argue the other side). “In order to make drivers become more considerate, the police should crack down on tailgaters by writing them citations” is a precise claim that would still have you writing about consideration, yet would allow you to be sufficiently specific. In addition, there are certainly people who are kind, rational, and intelligent who would argue the other side.
2. What kind of evidence will you provide?
Normally in academic writing, students quote from experts in the field as evidence that what they have said is true. Of course, these experts often disagree with each other, and they sometimes change their minds over the years. So, even that does not actually constitute absolute proof. At any rate, for this assignment, you will have to use your own sense of logic since no research is allowed. It is therefore critical that you choose a topic that you are already familiar with and have already had ample opportunity to think about. For instance, if you believe in God, you probably are already able to list half a dozen reasons why without even thinking deeply about it. If you don’t believe in God, you probably are already able to list half a dozen reasons why without even thinking deeply about it. The reasons are already in your head because you have thought about them before, perhaps without even realizing it. You have heard others discuss these issues, too, even if you can’t remember who or when or where. For this assignment, choose an issue and claim statement that revolves around something you already have an opinion about. Otherwise you might have difficulty presenting enough evidence.
It’s quite common in argument essays to add a hypothetical example as we practiced earlier in the semester. Please consider using this technique. Done correctly, it can provide readers with some great insight into the logic of your argument. However, be careful to not make your example too long or involved. A few sentences are generally sufficient for a short essay like this one, and you certainly ought not to have more than one. Please remember that no technique works well if it is overdone, and if you feel that a hypothetical example will not help you make your case, then there is certainly no need to include any. Just be sure to review the Writing Without Research #3 homework about hypothetical examples and the comments you received on that homework first.
3. What about that counter-argument?
As stated above, you must choose a claim that kind, rational, and intelligent people would actually say in disagreement with your claim. In the first half of your paragraph number five (that is, the paragraph before the conclusion), you will include an example of what those people would say as well as three or four more sentences of the kinds of proof that they would use. Despite the fact that it might be tempting (if you are an opinionated person), you can’t make it sound like those people are not very bright. For instance, if you are writing about the need to include more required science classes in high schools, something like, “Some people suggest that we should not use extra funds to add more science classes to the high school curriculum because their children are not smart enough to pass them.” No! You may possibly feel that this is true, but this does not represent what people who are against adding extra science classes would actually say. Rather, what you might write is: “Some parents suggest that we already have lots of required science classes and, because art and music classes were cut back over a decade ago, those are the classes that need extra funding.” That sounds kind and rational, and it really does represent what some parents would say.
4. And what about refuting the counter-argument?
The first half of paragraph number five contains the counter-argument, and the second half contains the refuting of the counter-argument. This means that you address the counter-argument and show why it is not true. As this happens in the same paragraph, you need to be very careful to use an appropriate transitional statement at the beginning of the refutation in order to insure the reader picks up on exactly what you are doing. All you have to do is write three to five sentences (generally the same number of sentences that the counter-argument has, so there is a sense of fair play) that show why the counter-argument is incorrect. An example of a way to start a refutation of the counter-argument shown in #3 above is: “However, what these parents fail to take into account is that children who pursue music and art are rarely able to support themselves in those fields as adults. The children who take science seriously, however, are likely not just to find enjoyable jobs, but they tend to end up in high paying positions as doctors, nurses, engineers, and biochemists.”
5. Language use.
You will want to be careful to use language strategically. This means you have to find the right words and images that are free of even a hint of insult to the other side. Try to sound completely fair and academic. This is best done by avoiding connotative language. Notice, for instance, the difference between words such as ignorant, unaccustomed, stupid, untrained, senseless, witless, foolish, dumb, oafish, dull, naïve, and unlearned. They all point to the same general state of mind (not knowing something), but the connotations are incredibly different. In your essay, use words that have as little connotation as possible.
Warning: Many people have extreme difficulty being unbiased when it comes to issues they feel strongly about. For instance, it can be difficult to write fairly about the issue of drunk driving if you have had a loved one who died in an accident caused by someone under the influence. If you are the kind of person who tends to have strong opinions about things or who sometimes has difficulty seeing the other side, it is perfectly fine to purposely pick a topic you do not feel deeply about in order to avoid this pitfall. Every semester there are good writers who end up with a poor grade on their argument essays because of this one problem. Don’t fall into this trap!
Conclusions can be especially important in an argument essay. You do not want to just repeat what you have already said. End with a strong flourish that reminds your readers how compelling your arguments are. You can add in a pithy phrase, an ironic twist, or a hint of what the future might bring should your argument not be followed.
If you want to watch a funny video of a bad style of argument (so you can be sure to avoid it), watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQFKtI6gn9Y
Here is a fantastic example of an argument essay written by a CSN student. Please note that this essay includes research (your essay should not), it is longer than the one you will write, and it was written in response to a different prompt than what is offered in this assignment.
Abortion Not Banned in the Constitution
The issue of legal abortion has led to an extensive, often emotion-filled, debate that has endured for many years. People are decidedly in either the ‘pro-choice’ or ‘pro-life’ camp. The problem appears to be that both sides base their points on what they view as fundamental rights. In the United States, citizens, lawmakers, and judges have leaned on Constitution to help determine the legality and the morality of abortion. However, even a document as short at the Constitution is open to interpretation. It requires some study and intelligent consideration before the truth becomes clear. The precepts of the U.S. Constitution require that abortion remain legal. [This last sentence is the thesis statement (claim).]
Two questions arise when debating whether the Constitution legally protects a woman’s right to have an abortion performed. The first involves reasoning whether the fundamental interests of women are affected by restricting abortion. The other inquires if laws preventing legal abortions are justified even if the Constitution does in fact address this issue. Answering the first question is relatively simple. Courts regularly hear cases to determine whether or not the rights of an individual are protected by the Constitution. If courts engage in recognizing if the fundamental rights of individuals are protected, then the personal interest of a woman being forced by the government to have an unwanted child certainly applies. Recognizing that courts do indeed have the right to intervene in decisions involving individual rights citing the Constitution as precedence, could laws preventing abortions still be justified in spite of this egregious infringement on the civil liberties of women? After all, constitutional rights are not unconditional. Why doesn’t the government have an interest in protecting the rights of those not yet born? The Fourteenth Amendment answers this question. It begins by referring to “All persons born . . . in the United States” (“Fourteenth Amendment”), indicating that the protections under the Constitution refer only to persons who are ‘born.’
[This paragraph backs up the writer’s opinion that abortion rights are supported by Constitution because it is applicable to women but not those who are not yet born.]
Roe vs. Wade is the case that deemed abortion to be a fundamental right. Those opposed to Roe argue that if the Constitution does not directly address an issue, then the Congress, not the courts, should decide matters with strong ethical implications. The Roe decision essentially addressed this issue by asserting the government’s concern for the life of the unborn does not exceed the fundamental rights of the born and thus their decision to terminate a pregnancy. The Court did draw a line distinguishing what is considered murder of a child. On this issue, those that oppose abortion rights do have legal justification for debate. Viability seems to be a relevant benchmark because in the early weeks following conception, the fetus is not a conscious being even though those of religious conviction argue that it does have a soul. Viability is scientifically determined while the presence of a soul is not. Therefore, “the line can only be drawn at the viability of the unborn as any other method by which to determine when abortions are considered murder is unclear” (Dorf). Criticizing the Roe decision solely on moral grounds is easy. The difficulty lies in offering an alternative that is not subjective and clear enough to be enforceable. [This paragraph backs up the writer’s opinion that the Constitution supports abortion rights by continuing the point from the previous paragraph about the unborn.]
There are people who disapprove of the Roe decision, and they frequently base their opposition entirely on moral grounds. Often their morality stems from the dictates of a religion they believe holds the one and only truth about what is right and what is wrong. Abortion is wrong, they believe, because a fetus is granted a soul at conception. However, what they fail to remember is that the United States Constitution provides for religious choice. Many people, religious or otherwise, don’t believe that a fetus has a soul. Some don’t believe in a soul at all. Therefore, scholars, lawyers and especially judges who criticize the decision must do so based solely on constitutional grounds and not religious ones. [This paragraph contains a counter-argument and then argues against it. Notice how clearly readers are alerted at the beginning of the first sentence that she is now going to address what people who disagree with her might say. It’s also very clear when she switches back into her own argument through the use of the transitional word “however.” Notice, too, that she has given an equal amount of words to both sides, thus appearing well reasoned.]
It’s true that many or all of the men who wrote the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence believed in God. Some very well might have thought that many of our current-day controversial practices, such as homosexuality and abortion, were biblically and morally reprehensible. The reality that a few of our Founding Fathers were deists, rather than theists, does not change the fact that these documents were written by and for predominantly theistic people. Yet, does that mean they wished to require that all moral and religious people think exactly as the most conservative among them did? There is no evidence that this is the case. In fact, all indications are that the founding fathers, most especially James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, wished to disallow the government’s interfering in any way with the private expression of religious belief on the part of the citizens. That they may not have personally opposed the practice of abortion on religious grounds is immaterial. They would have been the first to demand that the government has no right to enforce religious belief on the people. [This paragraph offers another counter-argument (in just the first few sentences) and argues against it. For your essay, one well-balanced counter-argument is sufficient.]
Before abortion was legalized, many thousands of young women were mutilated and died attempting to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. Meanwhile, the affluent were able to have illegal abortions safely. Wealthy women either traveled abroad to have an abortion or paid high fees to local doctors willing to perform the procedure safely while less fortunate women had to resort to unsafe options. Prohibiting abortions does not and has never stopped them from occurring; it just forces women to have the procedures performed in unsafe environments. ‘Christian morals’ and ‘family values’ are seen as justification for the loss of liberty, discrimination of the poor and the increased cases of injured women. The ideological divide will never be bridged, but the debate whether abortion should be legal or not is a matter for the courts. The arguments for and against are significant in a social context yet inconsequential because they will not decide whether or not abortions occur in the United States. They will just determine whether or not abortions are legal and safe or illegal and unsafe. [Conclusion.]
The argument essay topics:
choose ONE of the following topics for your argument essay. Keep in mind that you must significantly narrow the focus of the topic you choose, or your writing will be much too general.
1) Should the College of Southern Nevada lower its tuition costs even if it means that class size would go up?
2) Should the amount that College of Southern Nevada’s instructors are paid be based, wholly or in part, on student evaluations?
3) Should the number of people allowed to become students at the College of Southern Nevada be based on the rate by which its graduates are able to obtain jobs?
4) Should volunteer work in the community be required for all College of Southern Nevada students before they can graduate?
5) Should the College of Southern Nevada stress jobs skills or traditional academic subjects in the courses it offers?
6) Should the College of Southern Nevada offer more support services to help students who are having difficulty with their studies even if it would mean raising tuition?
7) Should the College of Southern Nevada require harder entrance requirements so that only those students who are likely to be able to graduate are allowed to start taking classes?
8) Should the College of Southern Nevada have a required computer mini-class for all students who are interested in taking online classes to insure they are ready?
9) In what one way should English 100 class be run differently so that students would be able to learn even more about what they need to prepare themselves for their upcoming classes or for the work world?
10) Should a college-level basic composition class be a required class for all college students who pursue a degree? [Note: English 100 and English 101 are college-level basic composition classes.]
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