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Sound Writing

Subsection 3.2.1 Different Models of Argumentation

While there are many different forms of argumentation, the four basic parts described above (main claim, evidence, substantiation, counterpoint) are key elements of many argumentative forms. However, these components can be interpreted differently in different disciplines (see Chapter 5) and for different assignments. For instance, the argument of a definitional or informational essay will employ language distinct from that of a scientific or philosophical study. A preferred argumentation form for your professor may not include language such as “main claim, evidence, substantiation, and counterpoint,” but may employ similar components that do similar things.
Similarly, there are many different models for structuring your argument. Some disciplines and professors use the Toulmin model of argumentation, which prioritizes an explicit claim supported by evidence (sometimes called “grounds”) and undergirded by warrants (or the often unstated cultural assumptions that make the argument persuasive). Others prefer the classical approach, which requires you to propose a certain stance, refute the opposing view, and offer proof to substantiate your claim. Still others may prefer you use the Rogerian model, which promotes a more neutral and compromising view of both sides of an argument. Unless a preference is indicated by your professor, use the model that makes the most sense for your assignment and argument. In fact, many writers use a hybrid between the different types while organizing their argument, using parts from each of them.
Perhaps you are writing an essay arguing whether coffee or tea is a better study stimulant for college students. You may use the Rogerian model to provide equal experiential evidence from people who drink coffee and people who drink tea, Toulmin’s data-driven analysis to argue that coffee people receive higher test grades, and then the classical approach to refute the argument that tea is a better study stimulant and substantiate your case for coffee. Mix it up!