Argument Paper

Argument Paper Instruction Guide

The Argument Paper is different in important ways from the Close Reading Paper. Whereas the Close Reading is a textual interpretation assignment, the Argument Paper is an analysis argument, particularly, an analysis of an argument you find in the text.

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Step 0: Select you argument from one of the texts we have read or will read in class this semester. Refer back to the Close Reading Guide for tips on text selection and prewriting techniques. I really cannot emphasize the importance of prewriting enough. Just do it!

Step 1: Put the argument you selected in standard form. This should be the first part of your paper. You know how to do this: no explanation necessary, just number the premises and conclusion and capture the essential structure of the argument.

Step 2: This is the analysis part of the paper and probably the bulk of the writing and thinking. In this section of the paper you are going to explain how the argument works by breaking it up into its parts and walking the reader through each step of the process. Imagine you are explaining the argument to a little brother or sister or friend. What needs to be said and what can safely be left out? How does one premise lead into another? Where do the premises come from and in general, what are their justifications? Follow the inferential thread for the reader all the way to the conclusion.


Step 3: This is the synthetic or critical part of the paper. Take a step back from what you’ve done previously and take it in. Pull the disparate pieces together and say something about the whole. Is this a good argument? Why or why not? Use the resources you’ve gained through the semester to talk about the argument. Is it deductive or inductive? If it is deductive, is it valid and sound? What kind of deductive inference is it or what multiple kinds of deductive inference does it involve? If it is inductive is it strong and cogent. What type of inductive inference/s does it involve? Finally, talk a bit about the context of the argument. Why is it occurring in the text in the place it is and what work is it doing? Does it successfully accomplish that work? Why is this argument important?

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