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9.7.3: Counter Argument Paragraphs

  • Page ID
    20657
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    Figure: Image by Pixabay

    Counter-Argument Paragraphs

    The purpose of a counter argument is to consider (and show that you are considering) perspectives other than your own. A counter-argument tears down other viewpoints; it does not build up your own, which you should do in separate paragraphs.

    Placement of Counter-Arguments in an Essay

    A counter argument can appear anywhere in the essay, but it most commonly appears:

    • As part of your introduction—before you propose your thesis—where the existence of a different view is the motive for your essay. This works if your entire essay will be a counter-argument and you are not building up your own argument.
    • As a section or paragraph just after your introduction, in which you lay out the expected reaction or standard position of opposing viewpoints before turning away to develop your own.
    • As a quick move within a paragraph, where you imagine a counter-argument not to your main idea but to the sub-idea that the paragraph is arguing or is about to argue.
    • As a section or paragraph just before the conclusion of your essay, in which you imagine what someone might object to in what you have argued. (However, this is really too late to be very effective in persuading someone to your position. It only shows you are considering other points of view.

    Watch that you don't overdo it. A turn into counter argument here and there will sharpen and energize your essay, but too many such turns will have the reverse effect by obscuring your main idea or suggesting that you're ambivalent about your point of view. At the worst, it can sound like you are contradicting yourself. Writing a lead-in sentence with subordination or concession can help avoid this problem.

    Example Counter-Argument

    The following paragraph explains an opposing point of view to the writer's position in almost the whole paragraph. Words in bold italics explain the essential component of a counter-argument that a writer is doing in the following sentence(s).

    Considering the many challenges facing K-12 public schools, it’s understandable that many people would be eager to pursue new options. Supporters of school choice point out that under the current public school system, parents with economic means already exercise school choice by moving from areas with failing or dangerous schools to neighborhoods with better, safer schools. Their argument is that school choice would allow all parents the freedom, regardless of income level, to select the school that provides the best education (Chub and Moe). Schools would then have to compete for students by offering higher academic results and greater safety. Schools unable to measure up to the standards of successful schools would fail and possibly close. [Acknowledge Valid Parts and move to your own viewpoint] Activists within the school choice movement can be applauded for seeking to improve public education, but the changes they propose would in fact seriously damage public education as a whole.

    The next paragraph is the counter-argument to the previous paragraph. Notice, however, that this count-argument does have some problems. The writer doesn't distinguish between public and private charter schools and also creates some logical fallacies in the process. Counter-arguments should be logically solid, cite sources, and argue logically.

    One of the biggest dangers of school choice is the power behind large corporations specializing in opening and operating charter schools. Two notable companies are Green Dot, which is the leading public school operator in Los Angeles (Green Dot), and KIPP, which operates 65 schools in 19 different states (KIPP). These companies represent a growing trend of privatization of public schools by large corporations. It is feared that these corporations could grow to a point that public control of education would be lost. Education policy would be left in the hands of entrepreneurial think tanks, corporate boards of directors, and lobbyists who are more interested in profit than educating students (Miller and Gerson). The results of this could be just as bad or worse than what is currently happening in underperforming schools. Education should be left in the hands of professional educators and not business people with MBAs.

    At this point, the writer would then begin to argue their point of view with sub-claims and facts developed in a number of paragraphs to support their thesis.

    If a writer is constructing an entire essay as a counter-argument, then the writer will need to fully develop multiple, well-supported arguments against the other point of view. The writer may also want to point out any logical flaws or other errors in the argument that they oppose.

    Contributors and Attributions

    • Revision, Adaptation, and Original Content. Provided by: Libretexts. License: CC BY-SA 4.0: Attribution.

    This page most recently updated on June 6, 2020.


    This page titled 9.7.3: Counter Argument Paragraphs is shared under a CC BY-SA license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Athena Kashyap & Erika Dyquisto (ASCCC Open Educational Resources Initiative) .