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18 Argument, Counterargument, & Refutation
In academic writing, we often use an Argument essay structure. Argument essays have these familiar components, just like other types of essays:
- Body Paragraphs
But Argument essays also contain these particular elements:
- Debatable thesis statement in the Introduction
- Argument – paragraphs which show support for the author’s thesis (for example: reasons, evidence, data, statistics)
- Counterargument – at least one paragraph which explains the opposite point of view
- Concession – a sentence or two acknowledging that there could be some truth to the Counterargument
- Refutation (also called Rebuttal) – sentences which explain why the Counterargument is not as strong as the original Argument
Consult Introductions & Titles for more on writing debatable thesis statements and Paragraphs ~ Developing Support for more about developing your Argument.
Imagine that you are writing about vaping. After reading several articles and talking with friends about vaping, you decide that you are strongly opposed to it.
Which working thesis statement would be better?
- Vaping should be illegal because it can lead to serious health problems.
Many students do not like vaping.
Because the first option provides a debatable position, it is a better starting point for an Argument essay.
Next, you would need to draft several paragraphs to explain your position. These paragraphs could include facts that you learned in your research, such as statistics about vapers’ health problems, the cost of vaping, its effects on youth, its harmful effects on people nearby, and so on, as an appeal to logos . If you have a personal story about the effects of vaping, you might include that as well, either in a Body Paragraph or in your Introduction, as an appeal to pathos .
A strong Argument essay would not be complete with only your reasons in support of your position. You should also include a Counterargument, which will show your readers that you have carefully researched and considered both sides of your topic. This shows that you are taking a measured, scholarly approach to the topic – not an overly-emotional approach, or an approach which considers only one side. This helps to establish your ethos as the author. It shows your readers that you are thinking clearly and deeply about the topic, and your Concession (“this may be true”) acknowledges that you understand other opinions are possible.
Here are some ways to introduce a Counterargument:
- Some people believe that vaping is not as harmful as smoking cigarettes.
- Critics argue that vaping is safer than conventional cigarettes.
- On the other hand, one study has shown that vaping can help people quit smoking cigarettes.
Your paragraph would then go on to explain more about this position; you would give evidence here from your research about the point of view that opposes your own opinion.
Here are some ways to begin a Concession and Refutation:
- While this may be true for some adults, the risks of vaping for adolescents outweigh its benefits.
- Although these critics may have been correct before, new evidence shows that vaping is, in some cases, even more harmful than smoking.
- This may have been accurate for adults wishing to quit smoking; however, there are other methods available to help people stop using cigarettes.
Your paragraph would then continue your Refutation by explaining more reasons why the Counterargument is weak. This also serves to explain why your original Argument is strong. This is a good opportunity to prove to your readers that your original Argument is the most worthy, and to persuade them to agree with you.
Activity ~ Practice with Counterarguments, Concessions, and Refutations
A. Examine the following thesis statements with a partner. Is each one debatable?
B. Write your own Counterargument, Concession, and Refutation for each thesis statement.
- Online classes are a better option than face-to-face classes for college students who have full-time jobs.
- Students who engage in cyberbullying should be expelled from school.
- Unvaccinated children pose risks to those around them.
- Governments should be allowed to regulate internet access within their countries.
Is this chapter:
…too easy, or you would like more detail? Read “ Further Your Understanding: Refutation and Rebuttal ” from Lumen’s Writing Skills Lab.
Note: links open in new tabs.
emotion, feeling, beliefs
moral character, credibility, trust, authority
goes against; believes the opposite of something
ENGLISH 087: Academic Advanced Writing by Nancy Hutchison is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.
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Argumentative Essays: The Counter-Argument & Refutation
An argumentative essay presents an argument for or against a topic. For example, if your topic is working from home , then your essay would either argue in favor of working from home (this is the for side) or against working from home.
Like most essays, an argumentative essay begins with an introduction that ends with the writer's position (or stance) in the thesis statement .
- Thesis statement : Employers should give their workers the option to work from home in order to improve employee well-being and reduce office costs.
This thesis statement shows that the two points I plan to explain in my body paragraphs are 1) working from home improves well-being, and 2) it allows companies to reduce costs. Each topic will have its own paragraph. Here's an example of a very basic essay outline with these ideas:
- Background information
Body Paragraph 1
- Topic Sentence : Workers who work from home have improved well-being .
- Evidence from academic sources
Body Paragraph 2
- Topic Sentence : Furthermore, companies can reduce their expenses by allowing employees to work at home .
- Summary of key points
- Restatement of thesis statement
Does this look like a strong essay? Not really . There are no academic sources (research) used, and also...
You Need to Also Respond to the Counter-Arguments!
The above essay outline is very basic. The argument it presents can be made much stronger if you consider the counter-argument , and then try to respond (refute) its points.
The counter-argument presents the main points on the other side of the debate. Because we are arguing FOR working from home, this means the counter-argument is AGAINST working from home. The best way to find the counter-argument is by reading research on the topic to learn about the other side of the debate. The counter-argument for this topic might include these points:
- Distractions at home > could make it hard to concentrate
- Dishonest/lazy people > might work less because no one is watching
Next, we have to try to respond to the counter-argument in the refutation (or rebuttal/response) paragraph .
The Refutation/Response Paragraph
The purpose of this paragraph is to address the points of the counter-argument and to explain why they are false, somewhat false, or unimportant. So how can we respond to the above counter-argument? With research !
A study by Bloom (2013) followed workers at a call center in China who tried working from home for nine months. Its key results were as follows:
- The performance of people who worked from home increased by 13%
- These workers took fewer breaks and sick-days
- They also worked more minutes per shift
In other words, this study shows that the counter-argument might be false. (Note: To have an even stronger essay, present data from more than one study.) Now we have a refutation.
Where Do We Put the Counter-Argument and Refutation?
Commonly, these sections can go at the beginning of the essay (after the introduction), or at the end of the essay (before the conclusion). Let's put it at the beginning. Now our essay looks like this:
- Dishonest/lazy people might work less because no one is watching
- Study: Productivity increased by 14%
- (+ other details)
Body Paragraph 3
- Topic Sentence : In addition, people who work from home have improved well-being .
Body Paragraph 4
The outline is stronger now because it includes the counter-argument and refutation. Note that the essay still needs more details and research to become more convincing.
Working from home may increase productivity.
Extra Advice on Argumentative Essays
It's not a compare and contrast essay.
An argumentative essay focuses on one topic (e.g. cats) and argues for or against it. An argumentative essay should not have two topics (e.g. cats vs dogs). When you compare two ideas, you are writing a compare and contrast essay. An argumentative essay has one topic (cats). If you are FOR cats as pets, a simplistic outline for an argumentative essay could look something like this:
- Thesis: Cats are the best pet.
- are unloving
- cause allergy issues
- This is a benefit > Many working people do not have time for a needy pet
- If you have an allergy, do not buy a cat.
- But for most people (without allergies), cats are great
- Supporting Details
Use Language in Counter-Argument That Shows Its Not Your Position
The counter-argument is not your position. To make this clear, use language such as this in your counter-argument:
- Opponents might argue that cats are unloving.
- People who dislike cats would argue that cats are unloving.
- Critics of cats could argue that cats are unloving.
- It could be argued that cats are unloving.
These underlined phrases make it clear that you are presenting someone else's argument , not your own.
Choose the Side with the Strongest Support
Do not choose your side based on your own personal opinion. Instead, do some research and learn the truth about the topic. After you have read the arguments for and against, choose the side with the strongest support as your position.
Do Not Include Too Many Counter-arguments
Include the main (two or three) points in the counter-argument. If you include too many points, refuting these points becomes quite difficult.
If you have any questions, leave a comment below.
- Matthew Barton / Creator of Englishcurrent.com
Additional Resources :
- Writing a Counter-Argument & Refutation (Richland College)
- Language for Counter-Argument and Refutation Paragraphs (Brown's Student Learning Tools)
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10 comments on “ Argumentative Essays: The Counter-Argument & Refutation ”
Thank you professor. It is really helpful.
Can you also put the counter argument in the third paragraph
It depends on what your instructor wants. Generally, a good argumentative essay needs to have a counter-argument and refutation somewhere. Most teachers will probably let you put them anywhere (e.g. in the start, middle, or end) and be happy as long as they are present. But ask your teacher to be sure.
Thank you for the information Professor
how could I address a counter argument for “plastic bags and its consumption should be banned”?
For what reasons do they say they should be banned? You need to address the reasons themselves and show that these reasons are invalid/weak.
Thank you for this useful article. I understand very well.
Thank you for the useful article, this helps me a lot!
Thank you for this useful article which helps me in my study.
Thank you, professor Mylene 102-04
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Unit 6: Argumentative Essay Writing
41 Counterargument and Refutation Development
In an argumentative essay, you need to convince your audience that your opinion is the most valid opinion. To do so, your essay needs to be balanced—it needs an opposing (opposite) viewpoint, known as a counter-argument . Even though you are arguing one side of an issue, you must include what someone from the other side would say. After your opponent’s view, include a refutation to demonstrate why the other point of view is wrong.
There are many ways to identify alternative perspectives.
- Have an imaginary dialogue with a "devil's advocate."
- Discuss your topic with a classmate or group of classmates.
- Interview someone who holds the opposite opinion.
- Read about the topic to learn more about different perspectives.
In the conversation below the writer talks to someone with the opposite opinion. Roberto thinks professors should incorporate Facebook into their teaching. Fatima argues the opposing side. This discussion helps the writer identify a counterargument.
Roberto: I think professors should incorporate Facebook into their teaching . Students could connect with each other in and out of the classroom. ( Position and pro-argument )
Fatima : Hmmm… that could work, but I don’t think it’s a very good idea . Not all students are on Facebook. Some students don’t want to create accounts and share their private information. ( Counterargument )
Roberto: Well…. students could create an account that’s just for the course.
Fatima : Maybe, but some students won’t want to use their personal accounts and would find it troublesome to create an additional “temporary class account.” Plus, I think more young people prefer Instagram.
Example Counterargument paragraph
Roberto used information from the conversation and evidence from sources to write the counterargument paragraph. This paragraph concludes with a concession of validity and is followed by the refutation.
Example Refutation paragraph
Counterargument and refutation stems.
Below are the stems organized in a table.
Watch this video
The video refers to counterarguments as “counterclaims” and refutations as “rebuttals.
From: Karen Baxley
someone who presents a counterargument; someone who pretends to be against the issue for the sake of discussing the issue
Academic Writing I by UW-Madison ESL Program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.
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Introduction to Refutation
Civil discourse in the classroom chapter 2: building blocks for civil discourse introduction to refutation.
If we want to live in a society animated by vibrant, civil conversations, it is not enough to teach students to have informed opinions. We must also teach them how to disagree with others. There is, however, a dearth of role models for civil disagreement. If we want young people to develop nonviolent conflict resolution skills, we must teach them more constructive ways to engage in disagreements.
Learning to disagree involves more skills than the simple refutation of an opposing idea. Students must learn how to speak in a measured way, how to understand which ideas are likely to be trigger points for escalation and how to choose reasonable and effective language.
Having a basic method for refutation is an important place to start. It can provide a framework and tools for the kinds of classroom debates and discussions that will prepare students for civil disagreement outside the classroom.
Start by teaching students a basic four-step method of refutation, outlined here. The method has the advantage of giving students a structure on which to hang their ideas – a structure that encourages students to substantiate their arguments without personal attacks or slurs.
- Step 1: Restate (“They say…”)
- Step 2: Refute (“But…”)
- Step 3: Support (“Because…”)
- Step 4: Conclude (“Therefore….”)
Step 1: Restate.
The first part of refutation is for a student to restate the argument being challenged. Students should concisely and fairly summarize the opposing argument; the cue “They say…” (or “Some say…” or “Mary said…”) is helpful. Discourage students from using the second person (“You say…) when restating arguments to avoid becoming too personal. Explain also that students do not need to restate in detail the argument they’d like to refute; a summary is fine. This has the added benefit of helping students practice summarization, a skill that is at the heart of critical thinking.
- Speaker 1: “School should be year round.”
- Speaker 2: “Speaker one says that school should be year round.”
Step 2: Refute.
Here, students state their objection to a point in a simple sentence. It’s helpful to encourage students to use the verbal cue “but….” For younger students, it is sometimes helpful to use the cue “But I disagree…” for simple disagreement. This second step functions as a kind of thesis statement for the counter argument, as shown by this example:
- Speaker 2: “Speaker one says that school should be year round, but school should last for only nine months.”
Step 3: Support.
This part of refutation parallels the “RE” (reasoning and evidence) in ARE. Using the verbal cue “because,” students will try to provide examples to support their reasoning:
- Speaker 2: “Speaker one says that school should be year round, but school should last for only nine months, because students need time off to do other things like play sports and go on family vacations.”
Step 4: Conclude.
Students should attempt to wrap up their refutations with a comparison, a contrast or some kind of statement that demonstrates their ability to resolve two opposing ideas. The verbal cue “therefore” in this part of the process helps students approach the argument logically. Beginners at this process are likely to simply restate their main point; that’s very similar to the approach we see in young writers trying to learn how to write effective conclusions to short essays or paragraphs. As students become more adept, they learn how to use “therefore” more effectively in disagreements.
- Speaker 2: “Speaker one says that school should be year round, but school should last for only nine months, because students need time off to do other things like play sports and go on family vacations. Therefore, year-round school is bad for students.”
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Debate is naturally adversarial. While the main objective is to thoroughly convince the audience of your perspective, the other major objective is to try to disprove your opponent’s stance. There are multiple ways you can do this, but the goal in a debate is to refute the opposing argument.
To refute something is to give evidence that proves it is untrue or impossible. A refutation is the act of definitively proving something wrong.
Refutation vs. Rebuttal
Although they’re often used interchangeably, refutation and rebuttal do not mean the same thing.
A rebuttal is a response to an argument that tries to prove it untrue by offering a different, logical perspective.
A refutation is a response to an argument that decisively demonstrates that the opposing argument cannot be true.
Neither of these terms should be confused with the made-up word “refudiate,” which has come to loosely mean to deny or refuse something. Although this word entered the public lexicon in 2010 after a US politician used it to argue their point, it’s not preferable for academic writing.
The difference between a refutation and rebuttal hinges on whether the opposite argument can be conclusively disproved. To do so, you must provide factual evidence of its inaccuracy; otherwise, it isn’t a refutation, it’s a rebuttal.
There are three specific ways to successfully refute an argument: through evidence, logic, or minimization.
Refutation Through Evidence
A good argument stands on evidence, whether that’s statistical data, quotes from an expert, firsthand experiences, or any objective findings of a topic. Just as an argument can be built up by evidence that supports it, an argument can be destroyed by evidence that disproves it.
Evidence can refute an argument by:
Definitively supporting the accuracy or truth of the opposing argument when it is an either-or discussion (i.e., argument A and argument B cannot both be true).
Some people argue that remote education is just as good as in-person instruction, but numerous studies have linked a rise in behavioral issues to young students in remote learning situations. Unless we argue that a child’s well-being is irrelevant, remote education is not “just as good as” in-person schooling.
Definitively disproving the truth of the argument with more recent or more accurate evidence.
In one of the courtroom scenes in To Kill a Mockingbird (1960) by Harper Lee, Atticus Finch uses evidence to refute the possibility of Tom Robinson’s being able to beat Mayella Ewell:
…[T]here is circumstantial evidence to indicate that Mayella Ewell was beaten savagely by someone who led most exclusively with his left. We do know in part what Mr. Ewell did: he did what any God-fearing, preserving, respectable white man would do under circumstances—he swore a warrant, no doubt signing with his left hand, and Tom Robinson now sits before you, having taken the oath with the only good hand he possesses—his right hand. (Chapter 20)
This evidence essentially makes it impossible for Tom Robinson to have been the attacker because he cannot use the hand that is known to have beaten Mayella. In a fair trial, this evidence would have been monumental, but Atticus knows there is emotional and illogical prejudice facing Tom because of his race.
Refutation Through Logic
In a refutation through logic, an argument can be discredited because of a flaw in logic, which is called a logical fallacy .
A logical fallacy is the use of flawed or incorrect reasoning to construct an argument . Because many arguments find their basis in a logical structure, a logical fallacy essentially refutes the argument unless it can be proven by another means.
Suppose someone makes the following argument:
“Books always have more information about what the characters are thinking than movies. The best stories are those that offer lots of insight into what the characters are experiencing. Therefore, books will always be better at storytelling than movies.”
There is a logical fallacy in this argument, and can be refuted like this:
The premise—that the best stories are those that include the character’s thoughts—is not logically solid because there are many acclaimed stories that do not include the characters’ thoughts at all. Take, for example, the film The Sound of Music (1965) ; there is no internal narrative coming from the characters, and yet this is a beloved story and classic movie.
As a result of the logical fallacy, the conclusion—that books are better at telling stories than movies—can be refuted unless the arguer presents a more logically sound argument. When the premise does not support the conclusion, this is called a non-sequitur, which is a type of logical fallacy.
Refutation Through Minimization
Refutation by minimization occurs when the writer or speaker points out that the opposing argument is not as central to the issue as their opponent thought. This might be because it is a more peripheral, or less-important concern.
This type of refutation is effective because it essentially proves that the opposing argument is not relevant to the discussion and can be dismissed.
Consider the following argument:
“Only women can write characters in the opposite gender with any depth, because for centuries they have been reading books written by men, and therefore have more insight into the opposite sex.”
This argument can easily be refuted by minimizing the pivotal premise (i.e., writers have a difficult time writing characters of the opposite gender).
The assumption that a writer must share the same gender as their characters to have the insight to fully develop their personality is a mistake. There are countless examples of beloved characters written by members of the opposite gender to suggest otherwise; Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy ( Anna Karenina (1878)) , Victor Frankenstein by Mary Shelley ( Frankenstein (1818)), and Beatrice by William Shakespeare ( Much Ado About Nothing (1623)), to name just a few.
Concession and Refutation
It might seem counterintuitive to mention the opposing viewpoints in your argument, but a concession can really help convince an audience to agree with you. By including a concession with your argument, you illustrate that you have a solid understanding of the entire scope of your topic. You show yourself to be a well-rounded thinker, which helps eliminate concerns of a bias.
Concession is a rhetorical device where the speaker or writer addresses a claim made by their opponent, either to acknowledge its validity or to offer a counterargument to that claim.
If someone presents not only a solid argument in their favor, but also a concession of the opposing side(s), then their argument is that much stronger. If that same person can also refute the opposing argument, then that’s essentially a checkmate to the opponent.
Four basic steps to refutation can be remembered with the four S's:
Signal : Identify the claim you are answering ( “They say…” )
State : Make your counterargument ( “But…” )
Support : Offer support for your claim ( evidence , statistics, details, etc.) ( “Because…” )
Summarize : Explain the importance of your argument ( “Therefore…” )
Refutation in Writing Argumentative Essays
To write an effective argumentative essay , you must include a thorough discussion of the issue—especially if you want your reader to believe that you understand the discussion at hand. This means you must always address the opposing viewpoint(s) by writing a concession. A concession to the opposition builds your credibility, but you shouldn’t stop there.
Argumentative essays contain the following key elements:
A debatable thesis statement , which outlines the main argument and some evidence to support it.
An argument, which breaks down the thesis into individual parts to support it with evidence , reasoning, data, or statistics.
- A counterargument, which explains the opposing viewpoint.
- A concession, which explains the way(s) in which the opposing view could contain some truth.
- A rebuttal or refutation, which gives reasons why the opposing viewpoint is not as strong as the original argument.
If you intend to provide a refutation of the counterargument, then a thorough concession is not especially necessary or effective.
When you refute an argument, the audience will essentially have to agree that that argument is no longer valid. That doesn’t necessarily mean that your argument is the only option left, though, so you must continue to provide support for your argument.
You can place the refutation anywhere in the body of your essay. A few common places are:
In the introduction, before your thesis statement .
In the section right after your introduction in which you explain a common position on the subject that needs to be re-examined.
Within another body paragraph as a way to address smaller counterarguments that arise.
In the section right before your conclusion in which you address any potential responses to your argument.
When you’re presenting a refutation, use words like, “however” and “although” to transition from acknowledging the opposition (the concession) to introducing your refutation.
Many people believe X. However, it is important to remember…
Although the common perception is X, there is evidence to suggest…
Part of writing an impactful refutation is keeping a respectful tone when discussing any counterarguments. This means avoiding harsh or excessively negative language when discussing the opposition, and keeping your language neutral as you transition from the concession to your refutation.
Refutations - Key Takeaways
- Refutation is the act of definitively proving something wrong.
- The difference between a refutation and rebuttal hinges on whether the opposite argument can be conclusively disproved.
- There are three specific ways to successfully refute an argument, and they are through evidence, logic, and minimization.
- A good argument will include a concession, which is where the speaker or writer acknowledges the opposing argument.
- In an argument, the concession is followed by a refutation (if possible).
Frequently Asked Questions about Refutation
--> what is a refutation in writing.
Refutation in writing is the action of definitively proving something wrong.
--> How do I write a refutation paragraph?
Write a refutation paragraph with the four S’s: Signal, state, support, summarize. Begin by signaling the opposing argument, then state your counterargument. Next, offer support for your stance, and finally, summarize by explaining the importance of your argument.
--> What are types of refutations?
There are three types of refutations: refutation by evidence, refutation by logic, and refutation by minimization.
--> Are concession and refutation counterclaims?
A refutation is a counterclaim because it makes a claim about the initial counterargument presented by your opponent. A concession is not a counterclaim, it is merely a recognition of the counterarguments to your argument.
--> What is refutation through logic and evidence?
Refutation through logic is the refutation or discredit of an argument by way of identifying a logical fallacy in an argument. Refutation through evidence is discrediting an argument by offering evidence that proves the claim is impossible.
Final Refutation Quiz
What does “refutation” mean?
Refutation is the action of definitively proving something wrong.
True or false: Refutation and rebuttal are the same thing.
_______ is a response to an argument that tries to prove it untrue by offering a different, logical perspective.
A __________ is a response to an argument that decisively demonstrates that the opposing argument cannot be true.
What is the key difference between a rebuttal and a refutation?
The difference between a refutation and a rebuttal hinges on whether the opposite argument can be conclusively disproved.
The three types of refutation are:
Refutation through evidence
Refutation through minimization
Refutation through _______
An argument can be discredited because of a flaw in logic, which is called what?
Refutation by _________ occurs when the writer or speaker points out that the opposing argument is not as central to the issue as their opponent thought.
The four basic steps of refutation are:
Which step in the process of refutation identifies the claim you are answering ("They say...")?
Which step in the process of refutation explains the importance of your argument ("Therefore...)?
Which key element of an argumentative essay is missing?
- An argument, which breaks down the thesis into individual parts to support it with evidence, reasoning, data, or statistics.
A debatable thesis statement, which outlines the main argument and some evidence to support it.
True or false: If you intend to provide a refutation of the counterargument, then a thorough concession is not especially necessary or effective?
Where are the four common places to put a refutation paragraph in an argumentative essay?
In the introduction, before your thesis statement
In the section right after your introduction in which you explain the common position on the subject that needs to be re-examined
Within another body paragraph as a way to address smaller counterarguments that arise
In the section right before your conclusion in which you address any potential responses to your argument
Why include a concession?
A concession gives you the opportunity to offer a refutation. It also proves that you're a well-rounded thinker, and not biased on the subject.
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A counterargument involves acknowledging standpoints that go against your argument and then re-affirming your argument. This is typically done by stating the opposing side’s argument, and then ultimately presenting your argument as the most logical solution. The counterargument is a standard academic move that is used in argumentative essays because it shows the reader that you are capable of understanding and respecting multiple sides of an argument.
Counterargument in two steps
Respectfully acknowledge evidence or standpoints that differ from your argument.
Refute the stance of opposing arguments, typically utilizing words like “although” or “however.”
In the refutation, you want to show the reader why your position is more correct than the opposing idea.
Where to put a counterargument
Can be placed within the introductory paragraph to create a contrast for the thesis statement.
May consist of a whole paragraph that acknowledges the opposing view and then refutes it.
- Can be one sentence acknowledgements of other opinions followed by a refutation.
Why use a counterargument?
Some students worry that using a counterargument will take away from their overall argument, but a counterargument may make an essay more persuasive because it shows that the writer has considered multiple sides of the issue. Barnet and Bedau (2005) propose that critical thinking is enhanced through imagining both sides of an argument. Ultimately, an argument is strengthened through a counterargument.
Examples of the counterargument structure
- Argument against smoking on campus: Admittedly, many students would like to smoke on campus. Some people may rightly argue that if smoking on campus is not illegal, then it should be permitted; however, second-hand smoke may cause harm to those who have health issues like asthma, possibly putting them at risk.
- Argument against animal testing: Some people argue that using animals as test subjects for health products is justifiable. To be fair, animal testing has been used in the past to aid the development of several vaccines, such as small pox and rabies. However, animal testing for beauty products causes unneeded pain to animals. There are alternatives to animal testing. Instead of using animals, it is possible to use human volunteers. Additionally, Carl Westmoreland (2006) suggests that alternative methods to animal research are being developed; for example, researchers are able to use skin constructed from cells to test cosmetics. If alternatives to animal testing exist, then the practice causes unnecessary animal suffering and should not be used.
Harvey, G. (1999). Counterargument. Retrieved from writingcenter.fas.harvard.edu/pages/counter- argument
Westmoreland, C. (2006; 2007). “Alternative Tests and the 7th Amendment to the Cosmetics Directive.” Hester, R. E., & Harrison, R. M. (Ed.) Alternatives to animal testing (1st Ed.). Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry.
Barnet, S., Bedau, H. (Eds.). (2006). Critical thinking, reading, and writing . Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s.
Contributor: Nathan Lachner
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Four Step Refutation
Skilled debaters not only have a command of language and content, but are able to present their arguments in an organized fashion that facilitates the audience following along in the debate. Refutation is designed to introduce arguments, undermine opponents' arguments, rebuild arguments, and clarify own arguments.
One way to do this is through a process called “four step refutation.” This process is used regularly by individuals in day-to-day interactions. This is often referred to as the “Four S’s” of singposting, stating, supporting, and summarizing.
Step One: Signal
Identify the claim you are answering..
In a single debate, there will be multiple arguments, pieces of evidence, and sometimes tangents that a debater must address. Clearly identifying which of your opponent’s arguments you are responding to will keep the flow of the debate progressing in a coherent manner.
Step Two: State
Make your (counter) claim..
After articulating your opponent’s position, you should make your response in a concise, articulate manner.
Step Three: Support
Reference evidence or explain the justification..
Many arguments will be supported by evidence that provides some justification for the claim being advanced. Reading or referring to evidence already read in the debate will buttress claims advanced by the debater. Oftentimes, evidence is not needed, and the debater’s own brilliant analysis can provide the justification for the claim.
Step Four: Summarize
Explain the importance of your argument..
For an audience to reach a judgment on an issue, they must recognize the comparative importance of different arguments. Detailing the way in which your argument implicates your opponent's position is a crucial way to leave an impression on audience members.
(Signalling) My opponent argued that the death penalty deters crime.
(State) In fact, the death penalty increases crime.
(Support) According to a nationwide study conducted by Professor Wiggins in 2002, violent crime has actually increased in states with the death penalty while crime has decreased in states without the death penalty.
(Summarize) If this study is true, and the methodology is certainly sound, then the central justification for the death penalty has no merit.
18 Argument, Counterargument, & Refutation. In academic writing, we often use an Argument essay structure. Argument essays have these familiar components
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Refutation in Writing Argumentative Essays · A debatable thesis statement, which outlines the main argument and some evidence to support it. · An argument, which
Respectfully acknowledge evidence or standpoints that differ from your argument. · Refute the stance of opposing arguments, typically utilizing
Step One: Signal. Identify the claim you are answering. ; Step Two: State. Make your (counter) claim. ; Step Three: Support. Reference evidence or explain the
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