After reading the following pages in your textbook, TSMGTW,type ONE page of notes, SINGLE-SPACED, SIZE 12 Times New Roman font.pgs. 156-159; 508-518; 537-541GUIDE TO READING
Analyzing Opposing Arguments
This chapter differs from the ones that came before in that there are only two
examples, essays by students Max King and Maya Gomez. Each essay focuses on
students: provocateurs speaking on college campuses. Gomez’s essay examines a
two opposing arguments. King’s essay addresses an issue that affects many college
health crisis faced by people across America and around the world: the lack of organs
available for transplant.
In these essays, you will see how both King and Gomez attempt to answer these
basic questions:
• What is the crux of the disagreement?
• What values, ideas, or concerns drive the disagreement?
• Who benefits from or whose interests are served by the arguments on each side?
As you read, notice how King and Gomez try to remain fair and impartial in their
essays, saving their opinions for the position essays they would write next.
Determine the writer’s purpose and audience.
College courses throughout the curriculum require students to analyze and synthesize
opposing points of view because these are fundamental critical thinking skills, necessary
for research, reading, and writing. They are also essential for thoughtful participation in
our democracy as well as for many kinds of work. As you read Max King’s essay and other
analyses, ask yourself questions like these about the writer’s purpose and audience:
The writer’s main purpose may be to
The writer wants readers to react by
clarify the opposing arguments
* understanding the opposing arguments
pinpoint the crux of the disagreement
• gaining insight into the disagreement
· probe the underlying values, ideas, or
recognizing the values, ideas, or
beliefs on which people base their
beliefs that underlie people’s views
opinion of the issue
on the issue
reveal who benefits from or whose
interests are served by each side in the
• assessing the arguments in light of
who benefits or whose interests are
being served
Assess the genre’s basic features.
H Basic Features
An Informative Introduction
A Probing Analysis
A Fair and Impartial
A Clear, Logical
As you read Max King’s and Maya Gomez’s comparative analyses, consider how they use
the basic features to analyze and synthesize opposing arguments on a controversial issue.
Read first to see how the issue is presented. Consider, for example, whether the writer
assumes that readers are already well informed about the issue or need background
information and whether they will be interested in the issue or will need to have their
Guide to Writing
A Writer at Work
Analyzing Opposing Arguments
[name controversy).
To learn more about
contextualizing an issue,
see Chapter 12
partial las
historical context, using a simple sentence strategy like this:
interest piqued. To inform and interest readers, writers in this genre often provide
• On/in (date/year(s)], when
context], Author A voiced strong opinions about
occurred (describe events or provide historical
In the following example, Max King provides historical context for the controversy
over the issue of what constitutes free speech on campus:
From spring through fall of 2017, several universities across the nation were rocked
by conflicts over who should and should not be allowed to speak on campus. Protests
erupted on campuses from Auburn to UC Berkeley, igniting a war of words over the
limits of free speech. (par. 1)
Consider how the authors of both arguments are described. Writers typically provide
a brief description of the authors’ background to help readers make judgments about
the trustworthiness of each side in the debate, using a sentence strategy like this:
“[article title), published by Author A, a professor/researcher/business
leader at institution/business B, appeared in Publication C, and the piece by
Author X, a professor/researcher/business leader at institution/business Y, was
published at Web site Z.
The first essay is a New York Times op-ed by NYU college administrator and
professor Ulrich Baer, and the second was published… by a well-respected
journalist, blogger, and editor at, Robby Soave. (King, par. 3)
Most important, notice how the opposing positions are summarized and contrasted, as
in this example from Gomez’s comparative analysis, which makes clear the different
EXAMPLE Whereas the NKF defends the status quo and urges retention of the valuable
consideration clause, Satel deplores the “woeful inadequacy of our nation’s
transplant policy” and proposes “rewards” to “encourage more living and
posthumous donation.” (par. 3)
ce and syntes
Publication source
3 skills, te
al participatin
s essayant
s to read by
posing argun
the disapreen
Cues contrast
Opposing positions
es, ideas, ar
ents in light
se interest
Look for passages in which the opposing arguments are represented. To represent the argu-
ments clearly and accurately, writers of essays that analyze and synthesize arguments
usually rely heavily on quotation, although they may also use summary (giving the
gist of the writer’s argument) and paraphrase (putting the writer’s argument into their
own words), as we can see from the way King presents Baer’s argument in paragraph 8:
First, he is talking about hate speech. Although he doesn’t use the term, his point is
clear: Describing groups of people as “inferior to others, or illegal or unworthy of
legal standing.” is dehumanizing. Essentially, Baer suggests that the very speech
campus provocateurs wish to protect is being used to diminish the rights of other,
more marginalized groups to be respected as equal citizens.
sider how they
whether the
need back
Deed to
CHAPTER 5 Analyzing and Synthesizing Opposing Arguments
Examine the analysis and synthesis of the points of disagreement, and ask yourself how
well the analysis helps you understand the disagreement as well as what may be motivating
each side’s arguments. For example, see if basic values are discussed, and look for
words-such as contention, concession, or rebuttal — identifying the moves each writer
is making:
This is the central point of disagreement between Soave and Baer. Baer contends that
by demeaning and silencing people, hate speech makes debate impossible. Although
Soave concedes that discriminatory speech may be wrong and legitimately hurtful,”
he denies that such speech inherently threatens the rights of those who are
denigrated by it. (King, par. 9)
Values and beliefs
Take a moment…
Why would writers
analyzing opposing
arguments try to come
across as fair and
impartial? If you have a
strong opinion on an
issue, how hard would it
be for you to write
Determine whether the writer comes across as fair and impartial in presenting the opposing
points of view. To win and hold readers’ confidence, the writer’s analysis needs to be
thoughtful and unbiased. To achieve this, writers normally
refrain from taking a position on the issue;
• avoid judging either side’s arguments;
use neutral or speculative language;
give roughly equal attention to both views.
For example, writers will use neutral verbs to describe what was said:
X claims
Y holds that
EXAMPLE Whereas Baer argues that these opposing values need to be balanced, Soave
maintains that individual rights should be valued more highly than promoting
the common good. (King, par. 5)
Writers of comparative analysis may also use conjecture, making clear that they are
making an interpretation or inference that may not be accurate:
X appears to assume that
. Y may think that
EXAMPLE I suppose Baer could respond to this critique by characterizing Soave’s slippery
slope argument as a logical fallacy. (King, par. 10)
Another strategy writers sometimes use to make their analysis impartial is to
quote one writer’s criticism of the other or to bring in another
expert to support a
. X rebuts Y’s argument by
Whereas X asserts
Y counters with
Guide to Writing
A Writer at Work
Even economics professors Gary S. Becker and Julio J. Elias, who have
defended compensation, agree with the NKF that not only would a free
market lead to a decline in kidney donation, but it would also exploit the
poor. However, Becker and Elias see a remedy in what Satel calls “good
policy.” (Gomez, par. 13)
Cue signaling disagreement
Examine the strategies the writer uses to make the points of agreement and disagreement clear
and easy to follow, such as providing a clear thesis and forecasting statement announcing
the areas of disagreement that the essay will focus on, and repeating the key terms (or
synonyms for them) in headings or topic sentences:
While Baer contends that white nationalist provocateurs should not be invited to
campus or allowed to speak, Soave claims that preventing them from speaking denies
their right to freedom of speech. At the heart of their disagreement is their radically
different idea about whether freedom of speech is an absolute and unchanging
individual right or a public good that has to be regularly adjusted to be fair to
everyone. They also disagree over whether limiting freedom of speech or allowing it
to be unlimited is the greater danger to democracy. (King, par. 3)
Finally, look for cues signaling comparison and contrast of the two opposing points of
Forecast of key topics
Consider …
How important are
comparison and contrast
cues in writing about
opposing arguments?
• Both X and Y agree that
Although X argues
Y contends
EXAMPLE Both appear to agree that exploitation of the poor would result. But
whereas the NKF appears to think this problem is inescapable as well as
inevitable, Satel seems to be confident that it could be handled
administratively. (Gomez, par. 12)
Comparison cue
Contrast cue
The following essays by students Max King and Maya Gomez analyze opposing argu-
ments on controversial issues. Whereas King is writing about free speech on college
campuses, Gomez is addressing the law that prohibits paying kidney donors. Their
topics differ, but they use similar strategies to analyze and synthesize the opposing
arguments so that readers will better understand these debates and why they are
important. By reading these essays, you will learn a good deal about how to write a
comparative analysis of your own.
CHAPTER 16 Arguing
your thesis emphatically and unconditionally. If, however, you expect readers to chal-
lenge your assumptions or conclusions, you must qualify your statement. Qualifying
a thesis makes it more likely that readers will take it seriously. Expressions like proba-
bly, very likely, apparently, and it seems all serve to qualify a thesis.
use o
and be
ing its
Write an assertion of opinion that states your position on one of the following controversial
Should English be the official language of the United States and the only language
used in local, state, and federal governments’ oral and written communications?
Should teenagers be required to get their parents’ permission to obtain birth control
information and contraceptives?
Should high schools or colleges require students to perform community service as a
condition for graduation?
Should parents be able to demand access to the social media accounts of their
children under the age of eighteen?
Constructing a persuasive argument on any of these issues would obviously require careful
deliberation and research. For this exercise, however, all you need to do is construct an
arguable, clear, and appropriately qualified thesis.
be convi
Kozol, a
that hum
Find the thesis in the student essays in one of the argument chapters (Chapters 6-10). Then
decide whether the thesis is arguable, clear, and appropriately qualified.
If you have written or are currently working on one of the argument assignments in
Chapters 6-10, consider whether your thesis is arguable, clear, and appropriately qualified.
If you believe it does not meet these requirements, revise it accordingly.
tead of
Giving Reasons and Support
Whether you are arguing a position, proposing a solution, justifying an evaluation, or
speculating about
causes, you need to give reasons and support for your thesis
Think of reasons as the main points supporting your thesis. Often they are you
the question Why do you think so? For example, if you assert among friends that you
much?” And you might answer, “Because it has challenging ideas, unusual camera
value a certain movie highly, one of your friends might ask, “Why do you like it so
work, and memorable acting.” Similarly, you might oppose restrictions on students’
Kozol cc
Deither read
never experic
that the expe
ets will believ

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