Argument and persuasion essay, 40 Writing Topics for Argumentative and Persuasive Essays

Argument and persuasion essay, 40 Writing Topics for Argumentative and Persuasive Essays

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If engineering students paid less for college than philologists, would more students opt for the former? Are theoretical specialists less important for society? What about other faculties: which do you consider a priority? Argument and persuasion essay

Argument and Persuasion

The controversy around homosexual marriage rages on in the United States and other nations, including everybody in the debate on the nature of marriage that threatens to redefine the concept of marriage as such.

Argument and Persuasion

Same-sex marriage was allowed nation-wide in Belgium (since 2003), Canada (since 2005), Netherlands (since 2001), and Spain (since 2005). In my opinion, homosexual persons should be given equal rights with heterosexuals in a democratic society that claims to uphold the moral value of every person irrespective of any issues pertaining to the person’s background such as race, ethnicity or sexual orientation.

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In this debate, issue of core social value is what is really at stake, not just the social institutions like marriage or matters of children’s upbringing. The arguments against gay marriages are many, but most of them fail to offer solid reasons against this innovation.

Permission to register same-sex marriages is consistent with the need recognized in all democratic societies to treat people as equals irrespective of qualities they cannot control, such as sexual orientation, origin, language, race and the like.

Denying the right to marry to gays and lesbians, society perpetuates discrimination that does not allow minorities to have the rights enjoyed by ‘mainstream’ population. Most people would agree that homophobia is both harmful and humiliating for a community – it is a demonstration that the nation is not opposed to mediaeval witch hunts.

Yet maintaining the ban on same-sex marriages to some degree justifies homophobia by showing that some human beings are still ‘more equal’ than others. Such a ban stresses the idea that homosexuals are not the same members of society as heterosexuals. Instead, they prove to be outcasts denied the basic human right to join their lives with their partner.

The most frequent argument against same-sex marriage is that major religions including Christianity and Islam restrict the concept of marriage to the union between man and woman. On these grounds, believers campaign against same-sex marriages.

However, one should note that in most modern nations religion is separate from the state, and thus the state does not have to embrace religious norms pertinent to any religion. Christian pastors can, for instance, persuade their parishes to have sexual lives that correspond to their beliefs, but they can hardly change the morals of the whole society.

Thus, the fact that under a certain religion same-sex marriages are considered a sin cannot be a valid argument to institute this ban in a secular state that most often includes citizens belonging to different faiths. In a pluralistic society, believers of one faith have no right to impose their views on the rest of the nation, even if they outnumber other denominations.

Besides, within a certain religion there may be differing views on the policies concerning same-sex marriages. Thus, within Christianity, there is a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender movement named Creating Change that draws on Christian norms to justify same-sex marriages.

Dr. Yvette Flunder who founded City of Refuge United Church of Christ in San Francisco sums up the position of the movement in the following words: “God is on our side, and God has been on the side of those who struggle for right and righteousness from the very beginning” (Sturrock, 2005). The movement strives to shake off the homophobia of the Christian rights and to redirect the discussion towards the core values of basic humanity.

Another argument against gay marriage is that it undermines the value of marriage as such. In debates on the bill closely defining the meaning of marriage, Canadian Senator Marisa Ferretti Barth described marriage as “the public joining together of a man and a woman who want to found a family, to have children and so ensure that the family will continue into future generations” (Hays 2002).

The proponents of the amendment to the US Constitution that will officially restrict marriage only to heterosexual couples similarly underscore that marriage is only meaningful when it is meant to unite a man and a woman, in line with traditions that are millennia old.

Tradition is fine, but time arrives when society has to redefine some or all of its core institutions, perhaps those that had carried it through to this day. Now it may be the time to reshape our common concept of marriage in the same way as people whose generations of ancestors lived under monarchy opted for democracy. In earlier centuries the idea that virtually the entire Europe will be governed by democratically elected leaders seemed absurd, and people could not imagine how they will live without a king.

Yet now most of us are pleased that we do not have to reckon with weak-minded hereditary rulers. In the same way society must come to see marriage not simply as a way to stimulate procreation in its members, but as a vehicle for expressing love and care.

Many people are willing to allow homosexual marriages but insist that allowing gays and lesbians to bring up kids is a bad idea. The most important reason is that children raised in such families are at greater risk of becoming homosexuals themselves later on.

The validity of this concern depends on the agreement as to the reasons for the choice of sexual orientation by a certain person. If one believes that the choice of sexual orientation is conditioned largely by upbringing and external influences, then the above claim has value. However, many researchers suppose that orientation is determined by inborn factors. If this is true, it does not matter whether the child will be exposed to displays of homosexual partnership.

Growing up in a same-sex family, the child is likely to develop some positive features instead. Here belongs the trend “to discriminate less on matters of race, gender or sexual orientation” (Robinson 2004).

They are also more prone to experiment in sexual life before marriage. As to the proportion of gays or lesbians among adults with this kind of background, it tends to be much the same as in the rest of the population. Actually, the very idea that becoming a homosexual is a tragic development hinges on the perception of homosexuals as inferior beings.

Once again, many people stand opposed to gay marriage since it does not promote procreation. Marriage, in their perception, should be about procreation, and since same-sex couples cannot perform this function, they have no right to marry.

There is one problem with this argument – the fact that many people in ‘normal’ marriages cannot procreate either. In some couples, the partners are past child-bearing age. In others, husband and wife cannot conceive because of biological problems.

The National Center for Health Statistics reports that “the number of infertile married couples of childbearing age in the U.S. was 2.1 million”, and many of those can only have children even through in-vitro fertilization (IVF) or buy an essay artificial insemination (Robinson 2004). If this argument were true, society should have introduced a rule to perform medical analysis of every wedding couple to see if they are capable of reproduction and deny this right to those that prove incapable.

Clearly, this suggestion is inhumane, but no more humane is the suggestion to deny the right to marry to homosexuals on the grounds of their infertility. This infertility is not absolute either. Lesbians can bear children through artificial insemination, and gay men can have them with the help of surrogate motherhood.

Thus, the main objections against same-sex marriages fail to reach their point. They offer pretexts against legalisation of such marriages rather than valid arguments. Speaking of kids, they can be happy in same-sex environments no less than in regular opposite-sex families. Childhood happiness is really about being loved and does not depend so much on the gender composition of the environment.

The same is true for adults, since most of us need love more than anything else in the world, whatever other important things may be our priorities. Giving homosexuals a way to legitimize their relationships, to secure their future in case of divorce or death of one of the partners means giving them equality with other members of society.

The fact that they were often denied this opportunity in the past does not bind the future. If we as a society learn to make more democratic choices, this will improve social experience for all us, not just homosexual couples, because we will increase the value of the individual.References

Hays, Dan. 2002. Debates of the Senate (Hansard). 1st Session, 37th Parliament, 139 (124), June 13. http://www.parl.gc.ca/37/1/parlbus/chambus/senate/deb-e/124db_2002-06-13-E.htm?Language=E&Parl=37&Ses=1#73 (accessed November 16, 2005).

Robinson, B.A. 2004. Is Same-Sex Marriage (SSM) A Bad Idea? Seven Reasons Why They Are Undesirable (With Rebuttals). Ontario Consultants for Religious Tolerance, 10 April. http://www.religioustolerance.org/hom_marint2.htm (accessed November 16, 2005).

Sturrock, Carrie. 2005. Meeting for gays focuses on God: It’s time to reclaim moral values debate, speakers tell crowd. San Francisco Chronicle, November 14. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2005/11/14/BAGFCFNKJE1.DTL&hw=gay&sn=001&sc=1000 (accessed November 16, 2005).

This essay was written by a fellow student. You can use it as an example when writing your own essay or use it as a source, but you need cite it.

40 Writing Topics for Argumentative and Persuasive Essays

Dr. Richard Nordquist is professor emeritus of rhetoric and English at Georgia Southern University and the author of several university-level grammar and composition textbooks.

Any of the 40 statements or positions below may be either defended or attacked in an argumentative essay or speech.

Selecting a Position

In choosing something to write about, keep in mind Kurt Vonnegut’s advice: “Find a subject you care about and which you in your heart feel others should care about.” But be sure to rely on your head as well as your heart: select a topic that you know something about, either from your own experience or from that of others. Your instructor should let you know whether formal research is encouraged or even required for this assignment.

Because many of these issues are complex and wide-ranging, you should be prepared to narrow your topic and focus your approach. Selecting a position is only the first step, and you must learn to prepare and develop your position persuasively. At the end of the following list, you’ll find links to a number of argumentative paragraphs and essays.

Persuasion/Argument

The purpose of persuasion in writing is to convince, motivate, or move readers toward a certain point of view, or opinion. The act of trying to persuade automatically implies more than one opinion on the subject can be argued.

The idea of an argument often conjures up images of two people yelling and screaming in anger. In writing, however, an argument is very different. An argument is a reasoned opinion supported and explained by evidence. To argue in writing is to advance knowledge and ideas in a positive way. Written arguments often fail when they employ ranting rather than reasoning.

Most of us feel inclined to try to win the arguments we engage in. On some level, we all want to be right, and we want others to see the error of their ways. More times than not, however, arguments in which both sides try to win end up producing losers all around. The more productive approach is to persuade your audience to consider your opinion as a valid one, not simply the right one.

THE STRUCTURE OF A PERSUASIVE ESSAY

The following five features make up the structure of a persuasive essay:

  • Introduction and thesis
  • Opposing and qualifying ideas
  • Strong evidence in support of claim
  • Style and tone of language
  • A compelling conclusion

CREATING AN INTRODUCTION AND THESIS

The persuasive essay begins with an engaging introduction that presents the general topic. The thesis typically appears somewhere in the introduction and states the writer’s point of view.

Avoid forming a thesis based on a negative claim. For example, “The hourly minimum wage is not high enough for the average worker to live on.” This is probably a true statement, but persuasive arguments should make a positive case. That is, the thesis statement should focus on how the hourly minimum wage is low or insufficient.

ACKNOWLEDGING OPPOSING IDEAS AND LIMITS TO YOUR ARGUMENT

Because an argument implies differing points of view on the subject, you must be sure to acknowledge those opposing ideas. Avoiding ideas that conflict with your own gives the reader the impression that you may be uncertain, fearful, or unaware of opposing ideas. Thus it is essential that you not only address counterarguments but also do so respectfully.

Try to address opposing arguments earlier rather than later in your essay. Rhetorically speaking, ordering your positive arguments last allows you to better address ideas that conflict with your own, so you can spend the rest of the essay countering those arguments. This way, you leave your reader thinking about your argument rather than someone else’s. You have the last word.

Acknowledging points of view different from your own also has the effect of fostering more credibility between you and the audience. They know from the outset that you are aware of opposing ideas and that you are not afraid to give them space.

It is also helpful to establish the limits of your argument and what you are trying to accomplish. In effect, you are conceding early on that your argument is not the ultimate authority on a given topic. Such humility can go a long way toward earning credibility and trust with an audience. Audience members will know from the beginning that you are a reasonable writer, and audience members will trust your argument as a result. For example, in the following concessionary statement, the writer advocates for stricter gun control laws, but she admits it will not solve all of our problems with crime:

Although tougher gun control laws are a powerful first step in decreasing violence in our streets, such legislation alone cannot end these problems since guns are not the only problem we face.

Such a concession will be welcome by those who might disagree with this writer’s argument in the first place. To effectively persuade their readers, writers need to be modest in their goals and humble in their approach to get readers to listen to the ideas. See Table 10.5 “Phrases of Concession” for some useful phrases of concession.

Table 10.5 Phrases of Concession

although granted that of course
still though yet

Exercise 1

Try to form a thesis for each of the following topics. Remember the more specific your thesis, the better.

  • Foreign policy
  • Television and advertising
  • Stereotypes and prejudice
  • Gender roles and the workplace
  • Driving and cell phones

Collaboration

Please share with a classmate and compare your answers. Choose the thesis statement that most interests you and discuss why.

BIAS IN WRITING

Everyone has various biases on any number of topics. For example, you might have a bias toward wearing black instead of brightly colored clothes or wearing jeans rather than formal wear. You might have a bias toward working at night rather than in the morning, or working by deadlines rather than getting tasks done in advance. These examples identify minor biases, of course, but they still indicate preferences and opinions.

Handling bias in writing and in daily life can be a useful skill. It will allow you to articulate your own points of view while also defending yourself against unreasonable points of view. The ideal in persuasive writing is to let your reader know your bias, but do not let that bias blind you to the primary components of good argumentation: sound, thoughtful evidence and a respectful and reasonable address of opposing sides.

The strength of a personal bias is that it can motivate you to construct a strong argument. If you are invested in the topic, you are more likely to care about the piece of writing. Similarly, the more you care, the more time and effort you are apt to put forth and the better the final product will be.

The weakness of bias is when the bias begins to take over the essay—when, for example, you neglect opposing ideas, exaggerate your points, or repeatedly insert yourself ahead of the subject by using I too often. Being aware of all three of these pitfalls will help you avoid them.

THE USE OF I IN WRITING

The use of I in writing is often a topic of debate, and the acceptance of its usage varies from instructor to instructor. It is difficult to predict the preferences for all your present and future instructors, but consider the effects it can potentially have on your writing.

Be mindful of the use of I in your writing because it can make your argument sound overly biased. There are two primary reasons:

  1. Excessive repetition of any word will eventually catch the reader’s attention—and usually not in a good way. The use of I is no different.
  2. The insertion of I into a sentence alters not only the way a sentence might sound but also the composition of the sentence itself. I is often the subject of a sentence. If the subject of the essay is supposed to be, say, smoking, then by inserting yourself into the sentence, you are effectively displacing the subject of the essay into a secondary position. In the following example, the subject of the sentence is underlined:

Smoking is bad.

I think smoking is bad.

In the first sentence, the rightful subject, smoking, is in the subject position in the sentence. In the second sentence, the insertion of I and think replaces smoking as the subject, which draws attention to I and away from the topic that is supposed to be discussed. Remember to keep the message (the subject) and the messenger (the writer) separate.

CHECKLIST

Developing Sound Arguments

Does my essay contain the following elements?

  • An engaging introduction
  • A reasonable, specific thesis that is able to be supported by evidence
  • A varied range of evidence from credible sources
  • Respectful acknowledgement and explanation of opposing ideas
  • A style and tone of language that is appropriate for the subject and audience
  • Acknowledgement of the argument’s limits
  • A conclusion that will adequately summarize the essay and reinforce the thesis

FACT AND OPINION

Facts are statements that can be definitely proven using objective data. The statement that is a fact is absolutely valid. In other words, the statement can be pronounced as true or false. For example, 2 + 2 = 4. This expression identifies a true statement, or a fact, because it can be proved with objective data.

Opinions are personal views, or judgments. An opinion is what an individual believes about a particular subject. However, an opinion in argumentation must have legitimate backing; adequate evidence and credibility should support the opinion. Consider the credibility of expert opinions. Experts in a given field have the knowledge and credentials to make their opinion meaningful to a larger audience.

For example, you seek the opinion of your dentist when it comes to the health of your gums, and you seek the opinion of your mechanic when it comes to the maintenance of your car. Both have knowledge and credentials in those respective fields, which is why their opinions matter to you. But the authority of your dentist may be greatly diminished should he or she offer an opinion about your car, and vice versa.

In writing, buying an essay online you want to strike a balance between credible facts and authoritative opinions. Relying on one or the other will likely lose more of your audience than it gains.

The word prove is frequently used in the discussion of persuasive writing. Writers may claim that one piece of evidence or another proves the argument, but proving an argument is often not possible. No evidence proves a debatable topic one way or the other; that is why the topic is debatable. Facts can be proved, but opinions can only be supported, explained, and persuaded.

Exercise 2

On a separate sheet of paper, take three of the theses you formed in Exercise 1, and list the types of evidence you might use in support of that thesis.

Exercise 3

Using the evidence you provided in support of the three theses in Exercise 2, come up with at least one counterargument to each. Then write a concession statement, expressing the limits to each of your three arguments.

USING VISUAL ELEMENTS TO STRENGTHEN ARGUMENTS

Adding visual elements to a persuasive argument can often strengthen its persuasive effect. There are two main types of visual elements: quantitative visuals and qualitative visuals.

Quantitative visuals present data graphically. They allow the audience to see statistics spatially. The purpose of using quantitative visuals is to make logical appeals to the audience. For example, sometimes it is easier to understand the disparity in certain statistics if you can see how the disparity looks graphically. Bar graphs, pie charts, Venn diagrams, histograms, and line graphs are all ways of presenting quantitative data in spatial dimensions.

Qualitative visuals present images that appeal to the audience’s emotions. Photographs and pictorial images are examples of qualitative visuals. Such images often try to convey a story, and seeing an actual example can carry more power than hearing or reading about the example. For example, one image of a child suffering from malnutrition will likely have more of an emotional impact than pages dedicated to describing that same condition in writing.

WRITING AT WORK

When making a business presentation, you typically have limited time to get across your idea. Providing visual elements for your audience can be an effective timesaving tool. Quantitative visuals in business presentations serve the same purpose as they do in persuasive writing. They should make logical appeals by showing numerical data in a spatial design. Quantitative visuals should be pictures that might appeal to your audience’s emotions. You will find that many of the rhetorical devices used in writing are the same ones used in the workplace.

WRITING A PERSUASIVE ESSAY

Choose a topic that you feel passionate about. If your instructor requires you to write about a specific topic, approach the subject from an angle that interests you. Begin your essay with an engaging introduction. Your thesis should typically appear somewhere in your introduction.

Start by acknowledging and explaining points of view that may conflict with your own to build credibility and trust with your audience. Also state the limits of your argument. This too helps you sound more reasonable and honest to those who may naturally be inclined to disagree with your view. By respectfully acknowledging opposing arguments and conceding limitations to your own view, you set a measured and responsible tone for the essay.

Make your appeals in support of your thesis by using sound, credible evidence. Use a balance of facts and opinions from a wide range of sources, such as scientific studies, expert testimony, statistics, and personal anecdotes. Each piece of evidence should be fully explained and clearly stated.

Make sure that your style and tone are appropriate for your subject and audience. Tailor your language and word choice to these two factors, while still being true to your own voice.

Finally, write a conclusion that effectively summarizes the main argument and reinforces your thesis.

Exercise 4

Choose one of the topics you have been working on throughout this section. Use the thesis, evidence, opposing argument, and concessionary statement as the basis for writing a full persuasive essay. Be sure to include an engaging introduction, clear explanations of all the evidence you present, and a strong conclusion.

Key Takeaways

  • The purpose of persuasion in writing is to convince or move readers toward a certain point of view, or opinion.
  • An argument is a reasoned opinion supported and explained by evidence. To argue, in writing, is to advance knowledge and ideas in a positive way.
  • A thesis that expresses the opinion of the writer in more specific terms is better than one that is vague.
  • It is essential that you not only address counterarguments but also do so respectfully.
  • It is also helpful to establish the limits of your argument and what you are trying to accomplish through a concession statement.
  • To persuade a skeptical audience, you will need to use a wide range of evidence. Scientific studies, opinions from experts, historical precedent, statistics, personal anecdotes, and current events are all types of evidence that you might use in explaining your point.
  • Make sure that your word choice and writing style is appropriate for both your subject and your audience.
  • You should let your reader know your bias, but do not let that bias blind you to the primary components of good argumentation: sound, thoughtful evidence and respectfully and reasonably addressing opposing ideas.
  • You should be mindful of the use of I in your writing because it can make your argument sound more biased than it needs to.
  • Facts are statements that can be proven using objective data.
  • Opinions are personal views, or judgments, that cannot be proven.
  • In writing, you want to strike a balance between credible facts and authoritative opinions.
  • Quantitative visuals present data graphically. The purpose of using quantitative visuals is to make logical appeals to the audience.
  • Qualitative visuals present images that appeal to the audience’s emotions.

This section was originally from Writing for Success, found at the University of Minnesota open textbook project. Full license information: This is a derivative of Writing for Success by a publisher who has requested that they and the original author not receive attribution, originally released and is used under CC BY-NC-SA. This work, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Argument and persuasion essay, Argument and persuasion essay

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