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Argument and Persuasion: Home

This Library Guide focuses on persuasive writing, or argument. While some of the contents may pertain to spoken rhetoric (debate/speech), the emphasis is on written rhetoric such as papers frequently assigned in freshman composition classes.

Page Overview

This page offers basic library information and insight on what does and does not constitute argument, as well as a brief comparison of inductive and deductive reasoning.

Literature Librarian

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Laura Pitts
7th Floor
Houston Cole Library
Jacksonville State University
700 Pelham Rd N
Jacksonville, AL 36265
Subjects: Literature

The Nature of Argument

What Argument Is

An Argument is  .  .  .

  • an attempt, either verbally or in writing, to persuade others to agree with you, to get them to adopt your point of view regarding a policy or position
  • .a presentation of convincing evidence and sound reasoning to establish of the rightness of the positions being argued
  • They also present compelling evidence that counters the arguments of those you are trying to convince

Argument should reflect the spirit of "come, let us reason together."

An argument is not the same thing as a quarrel. The goal of an argument is not to attack your opponent, or to impress your audience. The goal of an argument is to offer good reasons in support of your conclusion, reasons that all parties to your dispute can accept.

Nor is an argument just the denial of what the other person says. Even if what your opponent says is wrong and you know it to be wrong, to resolve your dispute you have to produce arguments. And you haven't yet produced an argument against your opponent until you offer some reasons that show him to be wrong. 

[Source: Philosophical Terms and Methods: What Is an Argument?]  

What Argument Is Not

An Argument is NOT  .  .  .

  • a quarrel involving name-calling and fallacious statements instead of concrete, well thought-out arguments,
  • an opinionated dispute of ideas without any real evidence backing the opinions,
  • factual information that is not debatable,
  • a rant that completely disregards the audience, [or]
  • ideas that are unfounded by logic or empirical truth.

[Source: Mesa Community College, "Defining Arguments"]

Use of invective, name-calling, or similar means to beat down or belittle an opponent is not argument; it is quarreling.

Types of Reasoning

Image result for induction deduction


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