Parts of an Argument

Identify Your Position

A clearly stated position demands parameters, or boundaries, narrow enough to avoid any tangential digression that might detract from the argument's power. In other words, to be effective, the author must identify a narrow enough position that proving or drawing a conclusion from the argument that follows won't become bogged down in the side-bar arguments a broader statement might stimulate.

The key to identifying a clear position is in the old adage of not biting off more than you can chew. In a courtroom it's called opening the door to testimony previously excluded. A broad position statement invites disaster by opening doors to counter-arguments that you are unprepared for and have no intention of addressing. It muddies the argument.

Following are some examples of position statements that are too broad to be effectively argued.

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Introduction