Learning the vocabulary of argument-based writing can help college students think more critically and become more effective classroom communicators. It can also serve them after graduation in nearly any career they pursue including business, sales, marketing, medicine, law and science. Fleshing out all sides to an argument results in a wider breadth of understanding and a more solid foundation upon which students can set their principles.
The college thesis statement is at the basis of most college writing. According to the Indiana University writing tutorial, the thesis statement is “a one or two sentence condensation of the argument or analysis that is to follow.” For the purposes of argument-based writing, the thesis or claim is what the writer will defend throughout the paper; it is the reason for the argument.
Through an extensive investigation of multiple resources, the essayist builds a body of evidence to support a thesis and craft an effective argument. An effective piece of argument-based writing imagines, explores and researches the counterarguments to the thesis statement. For example, a writer advocating gun control would not ignore questions posed by impassioned Second Amendment proponents or members of the National Rifle Association; instead he would offer statistics and expert opinions that rebut their arguments.
Argument-based writers use three general paths of appeal: ethos, pathos and logos. Ethos focuses on the merits of the essayist. According to the Purdue University Online Writing Lab, a writer can establish himself as ethical based on his respect for the reader, compilation of credible evidence, accurate acknowledgement of opposing sides and full disclosure of his motives. Pathos is an appeal to a reader’s beliefs, views and emotions and uses evidence that includes touching examples and anecdotes to support an argument. Logos employs the argument of logic and is a common sense approach that invites a reader to follow his own beliefs and assumptions to the essayist’s intended conclusion.
The successful art of persuasion is derived not from hyperbolic appeal but rather through the well-thought-out exercise of intellectual exploration and precise selection of appropriate and concise vocabulary. Extensive research, sound evidence, statistical support and corroboration from people considered topic authorities are the best tools in an essayist’s arsenal of argument-based writing. However, persuasive adjectives can also assist in an appeal. Stating that 66 percent of a population believes in something gives hard evidence; prefacing the statistic with the phrase "overwhelming majority" adds emphasis to the point.
Because the writer cannot present every argument with 100 percent certainty, he may include qualifiers, which offer meritorious exceptions to the premise of the thesis. Acknowledging that even the experts do not have definitive answers to every question brought forth does not negate choosing one side of an argument over another.