Whether in an argumentative essay or a more factual paper, acknowledging differing opinions or viewpoints in your essay can strengthen your argument. However, your counterclaim must be handled with care.
You can address the opposing view in your essay in several ways, such as directly quoting an opposing expert, paraphrasing or offering a rhetorical example or conditional statement:
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Identify the Opponents
Essays that ignore counterclaims are less persuasive than those that acknowledge and explain them. By respectfully acknowledging and explaining the other side of a debate, you can build credibility and trust with your audience, while demonstrating that you can weigh multiple points of view and accept those that contradict your own.
You need to identify and select quality sources explaining the major opinions on the two opposing viewpoints of your debatable topic.
These resources offer pro/con articles about various current topics in the news. Pay close attention to the authors of these sources. They may have a specific political bias that you should consider when reading their arguments. Also, make note of the type of evidence they provide for and against their position on the topic. This will help you determine whether their arguments are logical, reasonable, or emotionally-based.
Identify Your Counterarguments
Identifying the opposing viewpoints of your topic gives you a chance to refute them. This will give your essay credibility and help readers decide that your argument is more reasonable than the other view. In the refutation paragraph, start by clearly stating the opposition’s claim and then explain how your argument works better or is more logical. You can use different approaches to presenting and refuting counterclaims in your essay, depending on the subject, your audience, and your space and time limitations.
A good way to approach counterarguments is to research the thought leaders on your topic who disagree with you and present their claims in a fair and honest light. You can then follow with a respectful refutation. But be careful not to spend too much time on this step — too many counterarguments can weaken an essay by distracting from the main point and implying that you are ambivalent about your position. This may also make the reader question your motives.
Address Your Counterarguments
Your essay should include an objective point of view and explain both opposing viewpoints on the debatable issue. This can be done by using quality source material to explain the opposing viewpoints, how they differ, and their significance to your argument. All sources should be documented in the essay through in-text parenthetical citations and a Works Cited page following MLA style guidelines.
While you want to address the counterclaims in your essay, you should be careful not to spend too much time on them concerning your overall argument. Taking the time to consider and acknowledge the opposing viewpoints shows readers that you respect their opinion and are willing to listen to them.
It’s also important to reframe the counterclaim in your own words and avoid editorializing it. Your rephrasing should still clearly state the counterclaim and how you’ll refute it. This can help to make your argument stronger and more persuasive.
Summarize Your Counterarguments
It’s important that you take the time to explain each point of view on a debatable topic and what it means. It will show readers that you understand the positions of those who disagree with you and deeply appreciate their perspective.
Summarizing the opposing points of view will also enhance your essay’s credibility. You’ll demonstrate that you are a thoughtful writer willing to examine all sides of an argument, even if you ultimately choose one side over the other.
While you may think that imagining a counterargument will weaken your essay, most teachers are happy to see this type of disagreement in an essay. However, don’t overdo it. Too many objections will obscure your main point and signal to readers that you’re ambivalent about your viewpoint on the matter. Also, ensure you include a parenthetical in-text citation and a list of sources formatted according to the MLA Style Guide for your Works Cited page at the end of your essay.