Writer's WebThe Features of a Good Argument
by Kelsey Shields, Writing Consultant
(printable version here)

In Keys for Writers (6th Ed.), authors Jerskey and Raimes created list of standards by which to judge the rhetoric of a good argument. By their definition, a good argument would possess the following:

  • Deals with an arguable issue
  • Is not based on strong gut reactions or beliefs but on careful analysis of reliable information
  • Stands up to a critical reading
  • Takes a position on and makes a clear claim about the topic
  • Supports that position with detailed and specific evidence (such as reasons, facts, examples, descriptions, and stories)
  • Establishes common ground with listeners or readers and avoids confrontation
  • Takes opposing views into account and either refutes them or shows why they may be unimportant or irrelevant
  • Presents reason logically
  • Is engaged and vital, a reflection of your careful, critical thinking rather than just a collection of others' opinions.

It may be difficult to tell with your own writing the strength or weakness of your argument, so it is strongly advised to have someone else review your essay before submitting it. After all, even the president has to rehearse and edit his speeches!

If you're not sure if your argument is up to par or just want a second pair of eyes to look over it, it is advisable to make an appointment with the Writing Center.










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