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Five Parts of Argument

Most written arguments that you fashion in your Davidson courses will include five parts: a claim, reasons in support of that claim, evidence your which those reasons rest, assumptions and core values upon which your claims and reasons hold true, and acknowledgment of alternative claims that have been or may be made.

claim Claims offer solutions to intellectual problems. They suggest to readers that they ought to change the way they think or act with regard to the problem at hand. Because a claim is always debatable, to be accepted it must always be based on reasons. When a reader asks “What do you think about X?” you offer a claim.

reason Reasons provide the basis for making your claim. Reasoning may fashioned from logical, ethical, or experiential appeals. When a reader asks “Why do you think X?” you offer reasons, which are drawn from evidence.
evidence Evidence provides the basis for your reasoning. Evidence is composed of the facts, data, exact language, or other observable elements that you analyze or interpret in particular ways to point to your reasons. Whey a reader asks “How do you know X?” you answer by citing your evidence.
warrant Warrants are the the values, beliefs on which your reasoning depends. A warrant exists at bedrock level, a fundamental assumption about the nature of the world. Often, writers don’t explicitly state warrants because they are confident that their readers share their fundamental values and beliefs, but warrants are articulated when writers want to remind or alert readers of their core assumptions.
response An argument that does not respond to others’ claims, alternate interpretations and analysis and contrasting findings runs the risk of appearing uninformed and inconsiderate. The least that a writer can do is to acknowledge that contrasting claims exist, but other writers will go farther by reckoning with or rebutting counterclaims, counter-analyses, and counter-interpretations.

The Winter Olympics should be held every two years [claimso aging athletes have more chances to compete.[reasonA study conducted in 1999 by the Organization of Olympic Athletes shows that many athletes peak during non-Olympic years and, as a result of aging, can no longer compete when the games re-open. [evidence] By including older athletes, the Olympics promotes by inculsivity and continuity, two useful values for any organization. [warrant] Up and coming athletes may worry that a team may lose the competitive edge that newer athletes provide, but a more regular Olympics doesn’t promote staleness. More frequent games increase the opportunities for everyone. [response to objection]


A Worksheet for Reviewing Arguments



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