Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Counter Arguments

Here's a particulary clear explanation of how to deal with Counter Argument:


Rebuttals and Main/Faulty/Return Paths

Unlike many forms of writing, academic arguments will often include discussions of possible objections and counterarguments to the position being advanced. Academic arguments typically take place in disciplinary communities in which a variety of competing or divergent positions exist. When preparing to 'speak' to the community by writing an argument, writers are aware of the arguments against which they must build their claims, and of the counterarguments which are likely to emerge. Dealing with counterarguments and objections is thus a key part of the process of building arguments, refining them, interpreting and analyzing them. There are several main reasons for introducing counterarguments and objections.

1. It demonstrates that the author is aware of opposing views, and is not trying to 'sweep them under the table'. It thus is more likely to make the writer's argument seem 'balanced' or 'fair' to readers, and as a consequence be persuasive.

2. It shows that the writer is thinking carefully about the responses of readers, anticipating the objections that many readers may have. Introducing the reader to some of the positions opposed to your own, and showing how you can deal with possible objections can thus work to 'inoculate' the reader against counterarguments.

3. By contrasting one's position with the arguments or alternative hypotheses one is against, one clarifies the position that is being argued for.

When dealing with objections or counterarguments, authors tend to take one of 3 approaches.

Strategic concession: acknowledgment of some of the merits of a different view. In some cases, this may mean accepting or incorporating some components of an authors' argument, while rejecting other parts of it.

Refutation: this involves being able to show important weaknesses and shortcomings in an opponent's position that demonstrate that his/her argument ought to be rejected.

Demonstration of irrelevance: showing that the issue in question is to be understood such that opposing views, while perhaps valid in certain respects, do not in fact meet the criteria of relevance that you believe define the issue.

8 comments:

Barry W. said...

i think counter arguments are an important part of our essays.. by the wya.. i lost my flash drive after the 1130 class if anyone picked that up will u please email barry webb at stylinguy11@hotmail.com thank u very much

publius said...

stylinguy11? For real? For true? No, no, I’m just asking in a totally non sarcastic way.... Anyway, I found this counter argument post very helpful. It makes me want to take some more philosophy classes.
-Matthew

Barry W. said...

i was 11 when i made it.. dont judge me.. lol so if u here anyone with a flash drive let me know

Kirsten said...

This is pretty much the same as the powerpoint peter's showed in class today. But I'm still having a really hard time with my counter-argument for this essay...

SamWofford said...

For this essay i think it is almost easier to put a counter argument after every point. e.g. talk about human capital then counter argument then next point then counter argument....

Barry W. said...

sam has a good idea.. i think i should do that. but right now i just have one big paragraph as my counter argument. maybe i should change that.

JLYNN said...

Counter Arguments aren't really hard to put into papers and they add so much credibility to your paper. I love them!

LindsyM. said...

I hate trying to come up with a counter argument. This is going to sound terrible but, if people cant see it my way then that is their own problem...