Writing@CSU Guide

Writing Arguments: An Overview

What is an argument? Think about attorneys arguing a criminal "Who dunnit?" The prosecutor claims the gardener did it: The gardener's attorney says, "Prove it!" The burden falls on the prosecutor arguing the case to supply the damning evidence. The defense need only counter the claim with an argument casting doubt on the prosecution.

Facing the same audience, each attorney will try to persuade the jury. The judge sees to it that the arguments are presented in an orderly fashion. One will inevitably hold more water than the other. After considering the merits of each, the jury will return. The bailiff will hand the judge a folded piece of paper. The verdict will either be: "Guilty-the evidence is overwhelming-the gardener did it" or, "Not-it's doubtful the gardener did it-the evidence was insufficient."

An argument is a formal presentation of evidence that supports a particular claim or position regarding an issue of interest to a specific audience. Its persuasive strength rests on the rhetorical skills of the author-the art of wielding the rational, emotional and stylistic tools of language in a skillful and conscious effort to persuade. Its logic is built upon rational premises and follows to a conclusion reasonable people are willing to accept.

Continue »