Argument paper instructions

For the argument paper:

Remember, short or improperly cited papers will not be passed and papers with paraphrasing will not be passed. Also, remember, no 1st or 2nd person writing is accepted in the course. The main thing I am looking for is proper citation of direct quotes. However, for the argument paper, do not worry too much if you cite something incorrectly in the body of the paper or if your Works Cited page is flawed because you get to completely revise the paper, and the new grade totally replaces the old grade. Paraphrasing will not be accepted. Only direct quotation will be accepted. Also, remember, 75% of a paper must be written in your own words. Four sources are required, so papers with fewer sources will not be passed. Moreover, do not quote in the introduction or conclusion. Quotation is supporting details, facts, and examples; therefore, it should be placed in the body of the paper. Finally, make sure to double-check your argument paper against the rules of citation posted in Canvas and in the book.

Here are instructions for the argument paper. In an argument paper, you have to give an opinion in the thesis statement, but you will also have to confront the opposite side of the position in the paper. Below is some information to get you started.

Argument thesis statement template:

Even though some disagree, state your position because of _______, ______, and ______.


Full argument example thesis:

Even though some disagree, human cloning should be illegal because it is immoral on religious grounds, involves human experimentation, and cloning could create a slave society.


Each of the points in the thesis should be turned into body paragraphs supporting your side, position, or opinion. You must take a side in an argument paper and your thesis must state your position clearly. The thesis is where you state the position of the paper.

This would not be an argument thesis because it only promises to talk about one side. Human cloning should be banned because it is expensive, immoral on religious grounds, and it could create a slave society.


This type of thesis would be used in an exemplification paper, which is a paper that takes a position and uses points to support that position, yet it does not bring up opposing or different arguments and positions. It also has a personal point in it, being that it would be expensive. Expensive is subjective and personal for each person, so it is not a factual, logical, or rational point that can be researched academically. Points in an argument must be able to be checked, tested, verified, and/or measured objectively without personal spin or bias.


Now, here is the tricky part. Not only should you support your side, but you must also confront the opposition and their strongest arguments against the points you have in your thesis. In other words, if you quote something from the Quaran, Tora, or Bible in support of not playing god (yes, I have spelled ‘god’ with a small g because I am referring to anyone’s belief system), then you must also refute the opposing view. The other side might say, for instance, that open heart surgery or heart transplants are also a form of playing god, so why or how is the issue of cloning different? You must confront this question and/or argument directly. You should not simply dismiss it or call it a ridiculous comparison.

To refute this claim, you should either explain why your logic/rationality is better or explain that their argument is flawed or false in some way. For example, you might say that heart surgery or heart transplants are not actually like playing god because god had already created the parts. When humans start creating the parts and/or other humans, then they are trying to be like god, and only a god can create. Humans may modify or try to fix the parts of a human, and, yes, this may seem godlike, yet only a god can create. Therefore, not only should you state and support your view, but you must also state, confront, and refute the strongest opposing views, and you should do this for each point.

Two sources should be used to support the position and argument stated in the thesis statement. The other two sources should be used to quote and refute the opposing arguments. For example, using cloning again, if you believe it should be banned, quote two arguments that explain why it should be or remain banned. After that, use the other two sources to quote opposing arguments. For instance, quote two arguments or explanations about why cloning should be legal and the benefits of it, and then refute those arguments and explain why they are illogical or irrational. Do not just state both sides and explain the arguments. Argue for why your position is the most logical position to hold and support it with two sources and quotes. However, after you explain why your position is the most logical position to hold, you must quote and refute arguments from the opposing side. Do not just explain or announce both arguments or positions. In short, take a side, state it in the thesis, argue for it and support it with two sources, and then quote and refute different or opposing arguments with two sources.

Paper topics have to be critical topics, so do not do a comparison of beaches, favorite restaurants, or why pizza tastes good. Also, do not do obvious topics, such as people should not drink and drive, people should not commit crimes, or smoking is bad for people. Look at the news and at national or global issues. Your topic should also not be personal, meaning that should not write about what your favorite flavor of ice-cream is, why you like going on picnics, or which amusement park is the most fun to you. Papers and their topics should be objective and based in academic research and facts, not subjective and based in personal feelings, opinions, assumptions, speculation, and emotions. In short, leave personal feelings and opinions out of papers because they are not reasons, explanations, or logic. Just because you feel or personally believe something does not make it true, false, logical, illogical, moral, immoral, or right or wrong. Feelings are not explanations, logic, or facts. Leave all personal feelings, emotions, speculations, assumptions, and personal beliefs out of a paper.

Possible topics might include: death penalty, abortion, prayer in public schools, stem cell research, the economy, animal testing, American education crisis, human cloning, designer babies, marijuana legalization, politics, climate change, the minimum wage, or any other topic that is worldly and in the news.  Paper topics must be about critical, worldly events and happenings. Remember, your topic must be a global or national topic, such as global warming and what specifically to do about it, if the death penalty should be legal or not, if marijuana should be legal or not, if abortion should be legal or not, if animals should be used for testing cosmetics, if designer babies should be allowed, if human cloning should be allowed, is it okay to spank, should a wall be built on the border, should net neutrality exist, should video games be censored, should mental health background check be mandatory when purchasing weapon, or should free speech be censored on college campuses. Do not write about conspiracy theory topics or topics that are just about personal feelings, like the Earth being flat, moon landing hoax, or that vaccination causes autism. Again, the paper must be at least fill two full pages, have four scholarly, academic sources (use the college databases for college level research), and the paper must meet all minimum requirements listed in Canvas, the instructions, and in the syllabus. Also, remember, no first or second person writing is accepted in the course. Please send me your argument topic and thesis for approval and suggestions.

The argument paper requires at least four sources, two in support for your side and two in support of the opposition’s side. Some of you may be wondering why you have to research the other side, too. The reason one must research the opposing view is because one wishes to be fair to the other side. If you can confront and refute the opposition’s views with logical/rational arguments and credible evidence and support, then there is no need for unfairness. As academic writers of argument, we ought to be fair, understanding, unbiased, and unemotional. Unemotional? What does he mean by that?

What I mean by unemotional is that a writer of argument should appeal to the audience’s mind, not their heart? When one is using persuasion, one appeals to the heart, but in argument, one appeals to the mind. In other words, since I am the audience, do not try to make me feel bad, stupid, dumb, guilty, ashamed, threatened, and/or inferior because I do not agree with your views. Many times, and we have all probably seen it, some people try to win arguments by being bigger, louder, stronger, and meaner than the other person; however, this does not work in proper arguments, and it does not work for this course because it is online, so you can’t try to beat me up. The main point is that one ought not to try to insult the audience into taking their side.  Therefore, if you choose to do a paper on abortion, and especially if you are seriously, completely against it, do not refer to pro-choice people as baby killers or murderers. Remember, you are trying to convince your audience to change, adopt, and/or take up your view that abortion is wrong. You cannot do this by bullying or insulting them. They simply will not read your paper if they feel bullied or insulted. Also, remember not to put a positive or negative twist on language to guilt someone into taking your side. For instance, again with the abortion issue, if you are against it, and you refer to the fetus as a little, cute, innocent child, you are still trying to guilt your audience into taking your side, not with insults, but with positive wording for your side and negative wording for their side. Let your support, examples, logic, explanation, and evidence be your strength, not manipulative, emotional word choice. Furthermore, your audience probably does not believe that it is a child or viable human when an abortion is allowed to be performed. In fact, both sides would agree that terminating a child or human is wrong, so the actual argument might be: When does a human start? At conception? At birth? Three months after conception? Seven months after conception? This goes to show that arguments go deeper than they first appear and that they are very complex; there are no easy arguments or solutions.

Here are some common issues when writing argument papers to consider:

-Do not use personal assumptions, feelings, beliefs, speculations, preferences, or opinions in arguments.

-Do not argue or explain just your own side. Argumentation papers address both sides of a position equally.

-Do not argue for the obvious.

-Do not argue using extremist arguments or points.

-Do not use one-off stories in the news, online, or that you personally have heard or been through as examples or arguments.

-Do not make irrelevant arguments or points.

-Do not just use numbers or statistics to make points.

Do not use personal assumptions, feelings, beliefs, speculations, preferences, or opinions in arguments. When writing an argument, leave out all personal assumptions, feelings, beliefs, speculations, preferences, and opinions. Use logic, objective facts, rationality, and critical explanation to make an argument, refute an argument, and to support and/or refute points. For example, using abortion, do not just say abortion is unethical or bad. This is just a personal belief. Moreover, you cannot just say that killing a fetus is murder because you personally believe that it is a person. Also, you cannot assume that a fetus is a human, person, or child. You have to critically argue that a fetus is a human, and since it is human, it is protected by the legal system, so aborting it would be a form of murder. In short, show and explain the logic behind why a fetus should be considered a human and connect all of the points that lead to it being murder if it is aborted. If you are writing about animal experimentation or testing, do not use personal feelings or language to emotionally manipulate an audience or create an emotional ploy. For instance, poor, little, cute, mice, monkeys, and rabbits should not be tortured by evil scientists for research. For a vegetarian or vegan argument, poor, little, cute, innocent pigs, cows, rabbits, and ducks should not be violently assassinated for food, and if you eat meat, you are a murderer. Take out all personal beliefs and emotional ploys.

Do not argue or explain just your own side. Argumentation papers address both sides of a position equally. An argument is not explaining how you feel or just talking about your own side. Talking or writing about one side or position is exemplification, not argument. Use two of your quotes to support your arguments. After that, use the other two quotes to quote the strongest arguments of the opposing side. Finally, refute the opposing arguments. Do not just list or state arguments. You cannot be for and against animal experimentation, abortion, or the death penalty. In argument, you cannot be neutral. You must pick a side, state it in the thesis, and have three points of support for your side, and then you have to confront, quote, and refute opposing arguments. In short, you cannot be on both sides of the same argument and you cannot just list or explain two sides of an argument.

Do not argue for the obvious. For example, do not argue that there should be less police brutality. No one is arguing that there should be more police brutality. Also, do not argue that climate change or global warming should be reduced. Again, no one is arguing that climate change or global warming should be increased. Using the death penalty, there is no need to bring up how much it costs. Court is obviously expensive, and the cost is not the main argument. The possibility of executing an innocent person is a main argument, sentencing more poor people to death is an issue, sentencing certain races to death more than others is a main issue, and/or killing someone for killing someone is a major logical issue. Address the main arguments and leave out statements about the obvious. Lastly, do not argue that racism, sexism, ageism, discrimination, prejudice, persecution, injustice, and violence need to be stopped. Again, no one is arguing that we need more of these or that these need to be increased. To avoid this issue from happening, be as specific as possible with your argumentative position, points of support, explanations, and refutations. Lastly, for legalization of marijuana arguments, saying it is natural is obvious and not an argument. It is also obvious that salt, cyanide, cocaine, cholesterol, radiation, and chlorine gas also occur naturally, but this would not mean that marijuana is obviously good for people because it grows naturally.

– Do not argue using extremist arguments or points. For instance, in an abortion argument, leave rape and molestation out. Many on both sides would agree that there should be exceptions in extreme cases. Extreme positions are usually conceded in arguments and/or are just left out because they are extreme, rare, irrelevant, or just not the main argument or issue at hand. The main arguments about abortion are about if the fetus is a human or not, if abortion should be a form of birth control, and if a woman should have control over her own body and reproductive choices. In short, confront an address the strongest, most relevant arguments, not the extreme or rare arguments. Also, do not make arguments that a whole country or the whole world should do, like making meat illegal, everyone becoming vegetarian or vegan, stopping abortion around the world, eliminating racism from the planet, stopping all animal testing, or taking away all guns. These are ideals and extreme positions, not critical, academic arguments that could actually happen in the near future.

Do not use one-off stories in the news, online, or that you personally have heard or been through as examples or arguments. Just because your mother or father is a nurse that has seen many gunshot wounds does not mean that guns should be banned. Just because you heard a story or saw one in the news or online about a pig being killed for food does not mean that people should become vegetarians or vegans. Many try to say that guns should be banned because they saw ten school shooting stories online or in the news. Okay, but how many stories are there about every school that did not have a school shooting? Yes, one can see a story in the news or online about police brutality, but this would not mean or imply that most or all police are brutal. One can see a story in the news or online about racism, but this does not mean that most or everyone is racist. One can see a story about a death penalty execution gone wrong, but this does not mean that most or all death penalty executions are painful or go wrong. One can see a story online or in the news about a wrongful conviction, botched abortion where someone dies, an animal tortured in a slaughterhouse or by an unethical scientist, or one can hear about a story where a child is abducted and never found, or a story about where one became pregnant through rape or molestation, but these stories are events, not arguments or explanations, and they may not be representative of an argumentative position. In short, there are many stories online, in the news, and many people have personal stories and experiences, and for every story that is told, true or not, there is a counter-story. For example, if you tell or quote a story about being pulled over by the police and abused by them, some other person will just counter your argument or explanation with another story about being pulled over, not being abused, and having a very pleasant interaction, not even getting a ticket. Stories just cancel each other out. In short, leave one-off stories and events out of papers because they are not reasons, explanations, arguments, or refutations; they are just stories.

Do not make irrelevant arguments or points. For example, bringing up adoption is irrelevant in an abortion argument. Adoption is always legal and a choice, whether abortion is legal or not. No one is forcing anyone to abort. The person always has the choice to abort or to put the fetus up for adoption. The argument is about abortion and its legality, not adoption. The argument should be about whether or not abortion should be legal, a choice, or an option. Adoption is always an option. Should abortion always be an option, too? No one is trying to take away or stop adoption. There are arguments trying to take away or stop abortion. Personal religious views can also be irrelevant. If your religion says abortion is wrong and you follow your personally chosen religion, then you can choose not to abort, but if another person has a different religion, view on religion, no religion, or a different interpretation of the same religion and chooses to abort, then why should that person be prevented from aborting? In short, leave out personal religious, political, and ethical feelings. You can use religious texts to show that many religions do not support abortion, but these sources are only relevant to people who believe in those sources. It is best in argument to use sources that most people believe in and that can be verified to be objectively factual or true, such as the chances of infertility or death from abortion. Irrelevant arguments also creep up into legalization of marijuana arguments. Some say that cigarettes and alcohol are legal, so marijuana should also be legal. This is a false analogy fallacy and off topic. Whether or not alcohol or cigarettes should be legal are two separate and different arguments. Porkchops, eggs, butter, salt, lighters, guns, and matches are also legal and possibly dangerous to health, but their legality does not necessitate the legality of marijuana. In short, focus on your topic, arguments, explanations, and refutations specifically about it. Do not bring up irrelevant arguments, explanations, refutations, or points that are not specific to your topic.

Do not just use or quote numbers or statistics to make points. For instance, 700000 abortions happen in the U.S. each year; therefore, abortion should be illegal. This is not an argument. It is just a number or statistic. Yes, 700000 happen. So? Is this a lot? Is it not enough? Does this number explain why abortion is unethical? 700000 is just a number. You have to quote and refute arguments and explanations. For example, abortion should be illegal because 10000 women become infertile after their abortion, which causes them to regret their choice and commit suicide because of depression. This could be fleshed out to be a complete argument and/or explanation because it shows a line of logic. Just stating a big or small number does not show a line of logic, argument, explanation, or refutation. Twenty-two school shootings happened in 2019. Okay, and? Just stating a number does not argue or explain what to do about the shootings or how to reduce them. Climate change will cause the planet to warm by three degrees by 2100. Yes, so, okay, and? So what if the temperature goes up three degrees in eighty years? In short, you have to make a critical argument with critical explanations and research.

Lastly, for papers, I will be what some call a hostile or skeptically neutral audience. This does not mean that I will come and beat you up if you do not do well on the paper, but it does mean that I will take the opposite side of whatever you are arguing for. For example, if you say that cloning is wrong, I will believe it is right; if cloning is right, then I will believe it is wrong; if you believe that dogs have feelings, I will believe that they have none; if you believe that dogs have no feelings, I will believe that they do; if you believe that teachers are overpaid, I will believe that they are not; if you believe that teachers are underpaid, then, and only then, will I agree.  Therefore, I will take the opposite side of whatever you are arguing for. Just to let you know, the position you take in an argument does not have an effect on the grade, but the argument must be an actual argument.

The same rules apply as for our previous papers/assignments. Remember, since you need four sources, a Works Cited page is needed (and it is not counted as a page). All sources must be academic, critical sources. Four sources are required. Use the college databases for research. Paraphrasing will not be allowed in this course. Only direct quotation of up to two sentences will be allowed. In other words, I do not want to see entire paragraphs or pages quoted since our papers are very short. Quotation should be used for support, but it should not be used to write a paper. Seventy-five percent of a paper should be written in your own words. Lastly, do not begin or end a paragraph with quotation. Paragraphs should begin and end with your words. One final note on quoting. Do not quote short one-line statements. For instance, Dr. Susan Smith, author of Marijuana is Good, said, “marijuana should be legalized” (42). This has no argument or explanation about why marijuana should be legalized. This might just be a personal opinion. Also, anyone could say this, so it is not a critical or academic quote. A critical, academic quote should look like: Dr. Susan Smith, author of Marijuana is Good, said, “marijuana should be legalized because it helps stage four cancer patients develop an appetite, which increases their rate of remission and survival by ten percent” (42). This type of quote and information shows its logic, makes an argument, and provides critical information and data. All quotes must be academic and critical.

Please email me if you have any questions. Make sure to email me your topic and thesis for approval and suggestions.



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