argumentative essay

argumentative essay

The second argumentative essay assignment builds upon some of the work you did for the first assignment. ( the assignment was also through mightystudetns essay, so if you can see my account you will see the essay; however, the essay was wrong. Here is the feedback I received for my previous essay-"the major piece at the end (your argument breakdown) was lacking. Be careful when it comes to inductive and deductive. An argument cannot be inductive and sound. Review the terms specific for Inductive and review the terms specific for Deductive."

However, we are now focusing strictly on the deductive reasoning we have been studying.

Using the standards of classical logic we have been working on, formulate an unconditionally valid categorical syllogism that affirms a claim of your choice. The one restriction is that you cannot focus on the topic of abortion (this is due to the use of this topic in the section by Wolff below). Think of the claim as the thesis you are defending in your essay (see the Wolff section below). The point is that you want your reader to be persuaded of the merits of the claim you are advocating.

You should consider limiting the range of the topic in your paper. For example, if you choose to take a position on global climate change, find a narrowly focused issue within that larger topic and make that the central claim you are arguing for or against in your argumentative essay. You will want to allow yourself enough room in the essay to establish the truth status of your premises so that once they are deployed in a valid categorical syllogism you will provide your reader with a sound argument.

At the very end of your paper, you must provide a breakdown of your central argument identifying your premises and conclusion in the following format:

My central argument is a valid categorical syllogism. Here are the premises and the conclusion:




Be sure to indicate the syllogism’s mood, figure, and name.

Do not neglect this final element in the paper. It is meant to indicate that you understand the nature of the argument you are providing in this exercise.


Outside Sources: For this assignment, you are free to use outside sources from peer-reviewed academic sources. This excludes the vast majority of the Internet (including Wikipedia) and newspapers and magazines as they are not peer-reviewed academic sources. If you are unable to either go to the library to locate peer-reviewed academic sources or find them through the library’s online databases, then do not bother using substandard sources. If you do use substandard sources, your earned letter grade will be lowered by one full letter grade. Generally, you will want to limit your sources to academic journals and university press publications. However, remember that this is not a research paper, it is an argumentative essay. You will be evaluated on how well you complete the central assignment of providing a deductive argument in support of the claim you have chosen.

NOTE: All text that is not your own creation must be indicated by quotation marks (or a block quotation) and cited either in a footnote or endnote (including page numbers). Failure to observe this academic standard will result, at the very least, in "0" points for this assignment.


Length: The paper must be at least 500 words in length. (Most word processors will count the words in your essay for you.)


Paper Mechanics: Essays must be double-spaced, with one-inch margins. Your essay should be proofread and neat. I deduct points for errors (spelling, grammar, lack of page numbers, etc.).


Wolff’s simple foolproof method for writing philosophy papers (from Robert Paul Wolff, About Philosophy, Sixth Edition [Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1995], p. 464):

A philosophy paper is a defense of a thesis, in which the thesis is explained and analyzed, arguments are given in support of the thesis, possible objections to the thesis are stated and examined, and responses are given to the objections. A philosophy paper thus, has 5 parts:

(1) The statement of the thesis

(2) The analysis and explanation of the thesis

(3) The argument(s) in support of the thesis

(4) The examination of the objections to the thesis

(5) The response to the objections

The simplest and most foolproof way to write a philosophy paper is to organize it in precisely this order: Thesis, Analysis of Thesis, Arguments for Thesis, Objections to Thesis, and Response to Objections. It isn’t necessary to stick to this order, of course, and after you get good at writing philosophy papers, you may want to experiment with other systems of organization. But if you’ve never written a philosophy paper before, and you aren’t really quite sure what you are doing, it might be a good idea to stick to this structure.


(1) Thesis: Abortion is morally wrong under all circumstances.

There is a distinction between what is morally and legally wrong. What is meant by "any or all circumstances"?

(2) Explain thesis: "Abortion is morally wrong under all circumstances whatsoever" means "terminating a human pregnancy at any stage before birth, so long as the fetus is alive, violates the objective and universal principles of Judeo-Christian morality, and is therefore wrong without exception for rape, incest, danger to the life of the mother, or any other circumstance, including even a circumstance in which the abortion might save the lives of many other innocent people."

(3) Argument in support of thesis:

(1) Taking an innocent life is morally wrong.

(2) Abortion is the taking of an innocent life.

(3) Therefore, abortion is morally wrong.

This argument is a Categorical Syllogism (AII-1).

All A are B.

C is an A.

C is a B.

[Note: Your syllogism need not be written in outline form in this part of the paper. It may be expressed within the context of a paragraph. You will provide a structural presentation of the syllogism at the end of the paper.]

(4) Objections to the thesis: Play Devil’s advocate for a bit, and think up the best objections you can to your own thesis. Don’t just put up some cream-puff objections that anyone can knock over. This part of the paper is for ‘damage control’. If you can succeed in defending your thesis against the strongest possible objections, you may be able to persuade your reader.

(5) Respond to the objections: Now that you thought up the objections, answer them!


Writing Assistance: If you wish further assistance, there is a very good writing guide available. The site provides a sample argumentative essay. The site is called "Argumentative Essay Tutorial" and is available at:


Criteria for Evaluating Writing: Refer to the following checklist of the various criteria I will be using to evaluate your essay.

CRITERIA FOR EVALUATING WRITING (Adapted from Improving Student Writing, A. Moss, and C. Holder, CSU Pomona, 1982)


1. Does the paper have an introduction, body, and conclusion?

2. Are the paragraphs coherent? (Do they have topic sentences and develop one main idea?)

3. Do the transitions work well to tie the parts of the paper together? (Are transitions from one idea to the next logical?)


4. Does it catch the reader’s interest?

5. Does the author explain what s/he is going to do in the rest of the paper?


6. Are the main ideas of the article clarified?

7. Are the arguments used in the article explained clearly?

8. Are the assumptions and implications of the article explored?

9. Is the evaluation of the article supported by good arguments and evidence?

10. Are statements of fact accurate?

11. Are opinions adequately supported?


12. Is there a clear summary?

13. Are the conclusions the writer wants the reader to accept clearly stated?


14. Are the key terms and technical words adequately defined?

15. Are the sources identified and appropriately documented?

16. Do the sentences express ideas effectively?

17. Do the words precisely express the meaning intended?

18. Are the mechanical mistakes few?

–sentence fragments?

–run-on sentences?

–agreement errors?



19. Are good examples used to illustrate the main points?

20. Does the paper aIDress the appropriate audience?

21. Were the instructions followed?

22. Were the pages numbered?

23. Is gender neutral language used?