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1.2: Arguments Aren't Verbal Fights

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    We often have narrow concept of the word “argument.” In everyday life, argument often implies a confrontation, a clash of opinions and personalities, or just a plain verbal fight. It implies a winner and a loser, a right side and a wrong one. Because of this understanding of the word "argument," the only kind of writing seen as argumentative is the debate-like "position" paper, in which the author defends his or her point of view against other, usually opposing points of view.

    Such an understanding of argument is narrow because arguments come in all shapes and sizes. I invite you to look at the term “argument” in a new way. What if we think of "argument" as an opportunity for conversation, for sharing with others our point of view on something, for showing others our perspective of the world? What if we see it as the opportunity to tell our stories, including our life stories? What if we think of "argument" as an opportunity to connect with the points of view of others rather than defeating those points of view?

    Some years ago, I heard a conference speaker define argument as the opposite of “beating your audience into rhetorical submission.” I still like that definition because it implies gradual and even gentle explanation and persuasion instead of coercion. It implies effective use of details, and stories, including emotional ones. It implies the understanding of argument as an explanation of one’s world view. 

    Arguments then, can be explicit and implicit, or implied. Explicit arguments contain noticeable and definable thesis statements and lots of specific proofs. Implicit arguments, on the other hand, work by weaving together facts and narratives, logic and emotion, personal experiences and statistics. Unlike explicit arguments, implicit ones do not have a one-sentence thesis statement. Instead, authors of implicit arguments use evidence of many different kinds in effective and creative ways to build and convey their point of view to their audience. Research is essential for creative effective arguments of both kinds.

    To consider the many types and facets of written argumentation, complete "Writing Activity 1A: Analyzing Writing Situations" in the "Writing Activities" section of this chapter.


    You can explore more about what an argument is or isn't here.

     

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