Taking a Position
Next week, you will begin thinking about your final essay on positions. Your review and evaluation will help get you ready to take a position since you will be seeing both sides of the “argument.” Argumentation is not seen as a negative thing in academia but rather as a tool used to put forth an idea, expand on it, and try to prove it. Sometimes it is called persuasion, which is a gentler way of saying the same thing. You will use different aspects of argumentation to help strengthen your position essay.
As we discussed earlier this semester, logos, ethos, and pathos are all commonly used to try to persuade readers to a writer’s point of view. The most appropriate of the three to use in university essays is logos, which appeals to the reader’s common sense and reasoning abilities. Using ethos can fall under the umbrella of logos. Ethos appeals to the reader’s ethics. Pathos is an appeal to emotions and would be better used in an opinion piece for a local newspaper or a book of personal essays. Your academic essays should not be riddled with pathos. Drama is not appealing in academia: facts are.
It is important to bring in the opposite point of view. Sometimes writers ignore any research that disagrees with their point of view, which makes for weak writing and leaves the reader questioning the writer’s honesty. If you research a topic and find academic and verifiable information that does not support your main point, you need to take that into consideration, and evaluate whether your idea is still valid. Everyone is not always going to agree with you. You need to be able to back up your claims in the face of opposition.
Qualifiers make your ideas more accessible and sound more reasonable. Some examples of common qualifiers are the following words:perhaps, possibly, frequently, and often. These words can qualify a statement by stipulating a condition.
For example, compare these two sentences:
1. The government needs to change everything right now or else nothing good will ever happen again in the world.
2. Perhaps, if our elected officials chose to review some of our laws, positive changes could come into effect.
The first statement is negative and forceful, but there is no way to prove that this would happen. It is a statement that cannot be proven. There is no point in making statements like the first sentence; your reader will not trust you. Blanket statements obscure the truth.
The second statement is gentle and persuasive. There is nothing definitive about it; the writer is not saying that anything must happen but is merely suggesting a positive cause and effect that could happen. This statement is more reasonable than the first statement.
Argumentation is one of many tools that you will use as a writer. It is not enough just to put forth your point of view. It is important to use argumentation, and it is also important to back up your point of view with academic and verifiable research in order to prove it to your reader. Your goal in writing a position paper is to prove, as much as you possibly can, that your idea is solid, sound, and supported. This concept should translate into many of the papers you will write in the future for different classes. This tool can also be used if you plan to go into the legal field or can even be used when writing business reports.