writing argument – it’s not (always) a contest

patter

We all know the word argument. By argument, we usually mean that people have some kind of quarrel. People take opposing positions about something and then each proceeds to try to convince the other(s) that they are right. When arguments are heated, participants aim to demolish all objections and perhaps even the people who make them.

This kind of antagonistic positioning is not what we mean when we talk about academic argument. When an argument is academic, we generally mean something much more reasoned. Something which proceeds logically. Something which produces supporting evidence for both claims and conclusions.

But academic argument can – and often does – proceed with the same kind of conquer and destroy mind-set as the non-academic argument. An academic writer may see the purpose of their argument as converting others to their point of view. They think that they have to “prove” their thesis by anticipating…

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