What is argument?

An argument can be a disagreement: often, we think of an argument as a kind of verbal fight that occurs between friends, relatives, or even strangers.

An argument can also be a position: You might argue strongly for something (free parking, cheaper tuition, better coffee) or against something. The facts and evidence you put together in favor of your side are your argument.

In academics, an argument is a composition, usually written, that takes a position and supports it using appropriate evidence. The word “evidence” might make you think of a courtroom, but in reality, anything you present that supports your case is evidence. Data and statistics can be evidence; experience — either yours or someone else’s — can be evidence. Evidence should be true, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be a fact, to support an academic argument.

If that sounds confusing, it’s in part because some of the terms we use to talk about academic argument are used a little differently than how we use them in our everyday life. This chapter will introduce the key terms that we’ll use to talk about argument and explain why we use them. Along the way, we’ll start getting into what argument is, how you can use it, and why you should.


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

The (In)Credible Argument Copyright © 2017 by Jenn Kepka is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book