The term ‘ argument ‘ is defined as a contentious exchange of views, a heated discussion in which reasons are advanced for and against a proposition or a proposal with people violently defending their points of view. . This negative image seems to imply that the argumentation process is meant to cause conflict rather than resolve it.
But, its two famous teachers Aristotle and Cicero changed all this. Arguments were invented to persuade others to alter or compromise their position on a certain topic. Persuasion would be the ability to cause someone to change his belief and adapt another belief or take another course of action. Hence, Strange as it may seem, the two are complementary. Writing to argue and persuade need similar skills and a closely similar style. They are both styles of writing that seek to influence in different ways. However in order to indulge in ‘Persuasive Argumentation’, we need to understand what an argument is and why at all we argue.
So what is an argument? An argument has been defined to be “a well-structured, well-reasoned and well-supported point of view on a topic about which there will be good reasons for disagreement.” Since an argument is a logical presentation of a topic supported by reasons, the argumentative essay presents one side of an issue using evidence to convince the reader to draw the same conclusions as the author. Personal opinions and insight may be the foundation of argumentative essay, but reason, evidence, and factual information must support the personal opinions to prove the argument.
Having defined argument, the bigger question is Why do we argue? Argumentation is a process through which we form our own judgments and opinions. By expanding and modifying our own opinions we grow intellectually and escape from the parochial prisons of our thought processes. It is also responsible for the clarification of ideas. Just as we form our opinions through interactions with others, dialogue is important in clarifying our opinions. Explaining exactly why we hold certain opinions and arguing in support of them helps us to clarify our own thinking. Generally, we cannot resist attempting to persuade others to our point of view. However this defies the very spirit of argumentation, because effective argumentation does not attempt to declare a winner, nor does it tax the intelligence of the reader. The facts and viewpoints are there for all to behold and effectively argued views allow for the formation of opinions based on what is before them.
One essential characteristic of argument is the sense of opposition. Remember, You aren’t simply explaining a concept to someone who will hear you out and accept or reject your idea on its merit. The concept of Argument has 2 sides to it— proposition and opposition. In order to persuade the opposition, you need to take into account their beliefs and see how effectively you can make the transition from one level of acceptance to another, but to win acceptance, you must not only explain and support your proposition, but also anticipate and overcome objections that the opposition might raise. Herein lies the secret of persuasive argumentation. Having said this, we need to take a long hard look at the kind of reader we are targeting. Whether we have a neutral reader that is undecided, a hostile reader who is openly defiant or a reader who is willing to be led is going to determine the strategy that we adopt.
LOGOS, ETHOS AND PATHOS are the paths that we have to tread so that we do not step on anyone’s toes. LOGOS is the appeal to reason.—This is an age old ploy for everyone likes to think he is reasonable and appealing to this sense is perhaps the most effective way to get them to alter their stance. An effective way of convincing someone that you are reasonable is to find the common ground that exists between you. This is an outcome that is common to you both – an end-point you both desire. Having acknowledged this, you then proceed by showing how your way to this goal is the best way. A solid way to seem reasonable is to acknowledge the main opposing view(s) – but to show subtly how your view is more reasonable. We must Use logic to establish credibility with readers.
If logical fallacies creep in, the argument does not hold and falls through. ETHOS- deals with the appeal to character, the sense of right and wrong, the sense of justice and fair play. Your argument will triumph by persuading the reader to identify himself with these traits, and acknowledge that this is exactly how he feels. PATHOS is the appeal to emotion, which is inherent in every one of us. It has often been said that when emotion enters through the door, reason departs. So while we must be passionate about our viewpoint, we need to be careful that we do not overdo the emotional plea part. The reader is not gullible and will see through anything that does not ring true.
As you close the essay, it is most important to clearly redefine the topic and restate the most compelling evidence cited in original form. Build To a Memorable Conclusion. Conclusions are what readers are most likely to remember. Repeat or restate your thesis. Drive home the importance of your ideas, and make sure that your conclusion is the strongest, most dynamic part of your essay by calling your reader to action or by stressing the importance of the points you have made. Remember, this is the last chance to remind the reader and convince him/her to accept your position. Do not introduce new material in the conclusion. You have finally done it!! Achieved the near perfect essay!