Assessment #7: Argument/Counterargument

The whole fun of writing a persuasive essay is to pick an audience who disagrees with you, or at least is undecided about the matter.  Then you use charm, wit, and raw intelligence to prove that they’re absolutely silly for thinking what they do, and that they better come over to your side or else the world will end. 

In being persuasive and winning the fight, it helps a lot to remember that your target audience has reasons for their position on the issue.  Those reasons may not be GOOD ones, of course, but they have some motivation for thinking or feeling the way they do.  (I still don’t like eating at Jack in the Box because a friend of mine had a really bad experience there years ago, in another state.  Not a very rational reason, I admit, but it does shape my behavior when it comes to fast food.)

In order to be truly persuasive, you have to understand what people’s motivations are, and acknowledge those in your essay.  If you don’t, then readers will think one of two things: 1) you don’t know what the other side thinks, and are therefore ignorant, or 2) you know what they think, but you just don’t have any good response for it and are avoiding it.

I’d like you to visit POWA’s “Anticipating Opposition” article and read the content there.  Then, build your own pro/con chart, using your thesis as the “proposition.”  It may be easier to create a list, rather than a chart.

Then look at one or two of your “con” statements in more detail.  How will you acknowledge these arguments in your own essay, and what will you say to your reader to counter them?  For instance, if I were trying to talk myself into eating at Jack in the Box again, I’d acknowledge that finding a bug in your food is yes, a traumatic event.  But it was an isolated incident, and in no way reflects the standards of the chain overall.  I’d go into food safety data and possibly relate the health scores of the local franchises recently.  Maybe I’d even embark on a smear campaign and talk about similar events that have occurred at other fast food chains, to show it’s not particular to one brand. 

Your writing should be at least 150-200 words.  It doesn’t have to be grammatically perfect, but should use standard English and normal capitalization rules.