Argument Writing 101: Counterclaims

Contributor: Dru Cartier. Lesson ID: 13729

Supporting evidence, counterclaims, and rebuttals! Oh my! Learn how to strengthen your argument in just a few steps.

categories

Literary Studies, Writing

subject
English / Language Arts
learning style
Visual
personality style
Otter
Grade Level
High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Skill Sharpener

Lesson Plan - Get It!

Audio:
  • Have you ever tried to convince a friend to like something you like or to think the way you think?

Perhaps you LOVE taco pizza and want your friends to love it too. They'll probably want a good reason to try it.

By the end of this lesson, you will be able to convince them to love it just as much as you do!

friends eating pizza

  • How will you convince them though?

Let's start with three essential questions.

angry boy

  • What makes an argument effective?

deforestation

  • Why does making an argument matter?

people talking

  • How does counterevidence help you make your claim?

By the end of this lesson, you will be able to convince your friends to love taco pizza as much as you!

Let's start by exploring a written arugment on e-readers.

First, read The case against e-readers: Why reading paper books is better for your mind. by Naomi S. Baron for The Washington Post.

[This website does require a subscription to access articles. If you do not have one, please access a copy of the article under the Downloadable Resources in the right-hand sidebar.]

The title of this article is also its claim: the case against e-readers. However, it actually starts by talking about how great they are.

  • Coincidence?

Think again.

  • What are three reasons, or counterclaims, the author gives to love e-readers?

  • What are three rebuttals, or supporting claims, the author gives against e-readers?

If you notice, each counterclaim has a matching rebuttal.

For example, the article states e-readers are environmentally friendly because they do not harm trees, yet the rebuttal states the manufacturing of the e-readers does more harm than good.

It mentions that e-readers provide more access to books for all people; however, there are many people who cannot use e-readers either because they don't have internet access or perhaps they have issues looking at screens too long.

Another counterclaim described the convenience of e-readers, while the rebuttal stated they can hurt the person's concentration because the devices also provide access to the internet.

By starting the article with the potential counterclaims your opposition might use, you are able to redirect how the argument goes. You not only keep control of the argument, but you show that you know the topic really well and are not hiding anything. It gives you credibility.

Now you know what the parts of a strong argument are:

  • the claim (a statement you are prepared to defend)
  • the counterclaim (supporting evidence against your claim)
  • the rebuttal (the evidence that supports your claim)

You are halfway to becoming an argument master!

yay

  • Are you ready to check out the Got It? section?

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