What is an argumentative text and argumentative techniques

What is an argumentative text and argumentative techniques

Arguing means presenting one’s own opinion, one’s own thesis, around a certain theme or problem, explaining it and defending it through appropriate arguments, in order to persuade the reader of the validity of what is said.

The most widespread argumentative texts are the basic articles (or editorials), in which journalists expound their opinions on a specific event, the lawyersspeeches, the speeches of politicians, the sermons and sermons of priests and essays dealing with problems philosophical, social, historical, moral or scientific.

In the school, the argumentative theme or essay theme is very widespread, especially in the last years of study and in the exams: a topic in which, in fact, the student is invited to present his opinion on a topic and to explain and demonstrate it.

Argument: analysis of the structure of an argumentative text

Argumentative texts can deal with very different topics. However, everyone has in common the purpose, which is to convince the recipient, and the way in which they try to achieve this goal, which consists in demonstrating what is said by bringing convincing evidence and comparing possible objections of others. The following is an argumentative text. Read it carefully and observe the structure.

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This way of articulating the content constitutes the basic structure of every argumentative text, a structure that can thus be schematized.

This structure, however, allows for variations, with the displacement or suppression of one of its component elements. For example, the argument may present:

  • the displacement of the thesis at the end of the text: the thesis is stated only at the end of the text;
  • the omission: the thesis is left implicit, but it is easy to understand from the whole argumentation;
  • the omission of the arguments in favor of the thesis: the text presents only the arguments in favor of the antithesis and refutes them (refutative argument);
  • the omission of the antithesis: the text presents only the opinion of the author, without taking into consideration the antithesis that is the objections of the adversaries (affirmative argument).

To argue: argumentative techniques

To give life to an argumentative text, a theme, a journalistic background article, a short essay on a topical issue or a moral or social issue, we must proceed in the following way.

Carefully examine the topic that must be addressed, recalling or collecting all the data and facts that refer to it.

Reconstruct or try to find out what the most widespread opinions on the topic are, both with a view to better developing one’s opinion and in order to then be able to better argue the refutations of different opinions.

Decide which theses to support on the topic. Usually we face a discussion because we already have a thesis to expose and to support: in this case, it is enough to focus on it satisfactorily. In the case, instead, in which we start from a theme or a problem posed by someone else, as happens in school subjects and in many professional situations, we need to examine well the pros and cons of the various theses and decide, on the basis of the elements that we they know or that they can collect, which to make their own and develop.

Choose the tests, that is the topics, which are intended to be used in support of your thesis. The effectiveness of an argument and, therefore, the success of an argumentative text do not depend on the thesis that is exposed in it, but on the strength of the arguments that are put forward to prove its validity.

In particular, the types of topics that can be successfully used to convince are basically four:

topics that report concrete facts: to support the validity of his thesis, the issuer gives concrete facts, examples taken from reality or events known to all. Thus, to demonstrate the thesis that cigarette smoking can cause lung cancer, the issuer can cite statistics on the subject;

arguments of authority: the issuer uses as evidence the authoritative opinion of an expert in the field or of a person known for the success he has obtained, of a public or private body or even a qualified majority of people. Thus, to show that smoking is bad, the issuer can give the opinion of a famous oncologist;

logical arguments: the issuer proposes as evidence that they are the cause or logical effect of what is being discussed. Thus, to show that smoking is bad, the issuer can present the list of carcinogenic substances contained in cigarettes and let its interlocutors deduce the consequences of smoking on the human organism;

pragmatic arguments: the issuer notes the positive concrete results deriving from the acceptance of the thesis. Thus, to show that smoking is bad, the broadcaster can draw attention to the fact that those who quit smoking in time are very likely to avoid getting sick.

Predict the antithesis, that is the possible objections of the recipient and prepare the arguments to refute them. The citation of the antithesis and the refutation of the relative arguments is always useful and can be inserted in the text introducing it with formulas such as Someone, in this regard, could object thatIn reality, the opposite is true. Indeed

Write the text materially, organizing the speech appropriately. In this regard it is advisable, at least in the first experiences, to follow, in the exposition, what is the basic schema of the argumentation which provides for an orderly and complete development.

The possible variants to this are numerous: they are more difficult to process, but they are more incisive and effective. Those who argue can decide to state their thesis at the end of the text, rather than at the beginning or, indeed, give up showing it, leaving it to be understood by the recipient. Or he can omit the antithesis, as if to underline that there is no possible objection to his thesis or that, if it exists, it is completely negligible. Or he may omit to refute the arguments in favor of the antithesis, liquidating it en bloc.

Please note the following technical suggestions in the drafting:

  • use the connectives appropriately, that is the adverbs and conjunctions, to mark the various parts in which the argument is articulated: for example but, however, to establish adversary relationships; therefore, therefore, therefore, to establish causeeffect relationships; in fact, in fact, to establish explanatory reports; then, then, moreover, first of all, firstly, secondly, finally, to establish logicaltemporal succession relations, etc .;
  • pay due attention to the recipient: since the argumentative texts are intended to convince the recipient, one must always take into account its characteristics (age, character, culture, knowledge, interests, etc.) to choose the structure, topics, vocabulary. To keep his attention always alive, it is useful to involve him in reasoning, with expressions such as perhaps it is useful to point out that …, what one would think if I affirm thatand the like;
  • mitigate the role of the issuer: the issuer that, given the type of text, always expresses itself in the first person, must give the least possible relief to itself, emphasizing the relativity of its point of view (through expressions such as in my opinion , in my opinion) or using impersonal forms that mask the subjectivity of individual statements (in this regard we can say that …, a correct point of view could be that of someone who, in this specific case, claims that …). In this way, the broadcaster avoids appearing pedantic or, worse, authoritarian;
  • use whenever possible adeliberately orientedvocabulary: in a text that aims to convince, in fact, the lexical choices, can induce the recipient to consider negatively or positively the fact of which one speaks: just use wordsPositive” (for example, words or expressions of semantic scope in itself positive) to present one’s thesis and defend one’s arguments and, instead, “negativewords and expressions (for example, words of semantic scope in itself negative or aimed at ridiculing the object of discourse), when the opinion of the adversary and his arguments are presented;
  • insert in the body of the argumentation brief portions of other types of text, for example descriptive, expositive or narrative sequences. Such insertions, rather than lightening the argument, have the function of strengthening it. Thus, a precise and engaging description can, for example, reinforce the credibility of one of the tests put forward in favor of one’s thesis. Likewise, a short narrative sequence placed at the beginning of the text can capture the attention of the reader or, placed in another point of the text, prepare the listener to welcome a thesis rather than another.

Review and eventually correct and improve the text, aiming above all to verify, as well as the completeness and correctness of the whole, the consistency of the argument and the persuasive effectiveness.