how to support yourself

Argument papers gravitate toward a certain type of organization. Often, a writer will present his or her position in the introduction (thesis statement), and argue why this position is correct in the body. Another way to think of this is that the author gives the claim up front, and then uses several premises to prove the point.

Argument papers rely on logic, so it might help to articulate the things you should show in order to back up your claim. Imagine you are trying to prove the following.

Claim (thesis): Due to global warming, polar bears will not survive the next 100 years.

In this example, you must give evidence that suggests global warming is killing off polar bears. It should not be that difficult to find evidence that shows this. However, because your claim says that "polar bears WILL NOT SURVIVE the next 100 years," you must give evidence that suggests polar bears are actually BECOMING EXTINCT due to global warming, AND the effects of global warming CANNOT BE REVERSED in time to save them. In order to do this, you must...

You must show that: Global warming is melting the ice caps.

You must show that: Polar bears do not have another option, besides the ice, for food.

You must show that: Polar bears are drowning and starving because of the lack of ice.

You must show that: The polar bear mortality rate is increasing rapidly.

You must show that: The increasing mortality rate predicts that the number of polar bears will approach zero in the next 100 years.

You must show that: The polar bears hunting grounds will take longer than 100 years to refreeze .

So, what might this information look like in a paper? Using the material from the example above, you might get a pattern of organization that looks similar to this:

Introduction and thesis -- Polar bears will not survive the next 100 years.

The first reason is -- Increasing temperatures are melting the ice they use for hunting.

The second reason is -- The rate at which polar bears are dying suggests extinction in the near future.

The third reason is -- Global warming cannot be reversed quickly enough to save them.

written by Luke Rolfes
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