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“Structure of the Argument” from 20 Questions for the Writer, Jacqueline Berke, 4th ed.

Harcourt Brace Jovanovich

I. Introduction

A. Exordium: beginning or opening words, designed to win attention and good

will by introducing the case in an interesting and favorable light
B. Exposition or narration: an account of the history of the case (what led up to
the present situation)
C. Direct statement of case: the proposition (assertion) to be proved or disproved
D. Division of proofs: an outline of how the writer will present the evidence

II. Body

A. Confirmation (supporting evidence)

1. facts
2. reasons
3. statistics
4. testimony of experts
5. opinions
6. reports
7. examples
8. logical reasoning (deductive/inductive)
9. analogy

B. Refutation of opposing views by demonstrating they are

1. untrue
2. illogical
3. self-contradictory
4. ambiguous
5. dishonest
6. absurd

C. Concession of points to the opposition, reply and offering of alternate


III. Conclusion

A. Recapitulation and summary of argument

B. Peroration: final heightened appeal for support
The organization of the argument depends on the rhetorical context. Ramage and Bean's
The Allyn and Bacon Guide to Writing, provides the following structure for a classical

a. introduction
b. background and preliminary material. (can often be incorporated into the
c. arguments supporting your own position.
d. anticipation of objections and counter arguments
e. response to objections through refutation or concession
f. conclusion

It then suggests three choices for placement of the objections and counter arguments

a. "One option is to handle opposing positions before you present your own argument.
The rationale for this approach is that skeptical audiences may be more inclined to
listen attentively to your argument if they have been assured that you understand their
point of view."

b. "A second option is to place this material after you have presented your argument.
This approach is effective for neutral audiences who don't start off with strong
opposing views."

c. "A final option is to intersperse opposing views throughout your argument at

appropriate moments."

Sometimes the writer should build the case first, then acknowledge other points of view.