How To Write the Counterargument Paragraph

Terminology:


Concession: acknowledgement of the other side
Refutation or Rebuttal: an answer that challenges a specific claim or charge
Counterargument: the other side of an argument

Format of the counterargument:
1. Topic Sentence: Introduce the opposing side’s arguments. You are
acknowledging the other point of view. You will use phrases such as the
following:
 Some critics argue/assert/contend/claim/state . . .
 Many believe that . . .
 It has been argued/asserted/contended/claimed/stated . . .
 Opponents argue/assert/contend/claim/state . . .
2. Expert Source that supports the counterargument: This sentence backs up the
sentence with a quotation or paraphrase of evidence from an expert. It includes
the name of the author/source, the title of the article or web site, and, if necessary,
the expertise of the source to show the validity of the evidence.
For example:
In “When Patients Request Assistance with Suicide,” Dr. Michael Maskin,
an associate professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia-Presbyterian
Medical Center in New York, argues that in many cases, dying patients’
thinking is simply occupied by negative reactions to their condition (2).
3. Explanation sentence: This sentence begins with a transition (therefore,
thus, to explain, as a result, to elaborate, in other words, etc.) and explains the
evidence and/or provides an example of what it is saying.
4. Concession sentence: Concede (acknowledge) the other side’s validity in a
respectful way. You might begin with phrases such as the following:
 For this reason, opponents believe/argue/claim/contend/stress etc.
 As a result of _______________, many believe/argue etc.
 It is understandable why the opposition believes/argues etc.
 Critics have a valid point about . . .
5. Refutation/Rebuttal sentence: This is where you refute or challenge the
opposition’s viewpoint and remind readers of your stance. You will begin
by using a phrase such as the following:
 Nevertheless/nonetheless/however + your argument

and regret for being a burden to their families (Maskin 2). adapted with revisions from Sourcework. Though he/she/they make a good point. . Patients suffering terminal illness might tend to be negative. hopeless. .” Dr. it helps to pick counterarguments that you can refute easily. Example Main Claim: Terminally ill patients have the right to end their own lives. 1 Critics argue that the reason why some terminally ill patients wish to commit suicide is nothing more than melancholia. Obviously. it still does not . as there are usually several. and depressed. 5 Though it is true that psychotherapy might help the terminally ill patient confirm his decision. an associate professor of clinical psychiatry at ColumbiaPresbyterian Medical Center in New York. by Heinle & Heinle. . and that it is not a medical doctor’s job to help patients end their lives. argues that in many cases. however. because there is no effective treatment. + your argument Make sure that you complete the rebuttal by refuting the actual counterargument that you are using in this paragraph. opponents argue that the terminally ill patient needs psychotherapy. If you want to address more than one counterargument. ultimately the patient’s decision and his life to end. Do not argue against a different counterargument. most of the reasons why terminally ill patients request doctors and/or loved ones to assist them in committing suicide might be caused by certain problems such as hopelessness. 4 For this reason. 3 In other words. it is. 2 In “When Patients Request Assistance with Suicide. anxiety over expensive medical bills. Michael Maskin. and those who choose to help them should not be punished for doing so. Stick to the one counterargument throughout the entire paragraph. 2006. and that his wish to end his life should never be considered.   Though it is a valid point/argument + your argument Even though (one part of the argument) is true. No person or law should prevent or punish loved ones who assist in that choice. then you will need to do so in separate paragraphs. dying patients’ thinking is simply occupied by negative reactions to their critical condition (2).

there is an explanation of the evidence and an example to illustrate the evidence. Finally. a citation might be missing. that make reading the paragraph difficult in places. wording. the wording is accurate. there are a few errors in sentence structure. meaning that the rebuttal might argue against a different counterargument. grammar. but they do not impede understanding. Following the explanation. it’s all there. Then. or a couple of other minor errors that do not impact the overall meaning of the paragraph. transitions might be needed. 12/20: This paragraph is missing more than one of the five elements.Rubric 20/20: There is a clearly written topic sentence(s) that introduces the counterargument. Or the errors are so frequent that the point of the paragraph is lost. The introduction to the counterargument is followed by expert evidence in the form of a quote or paraphrase that includes the source’s expertise. 18/20: All of elements of the counterargument paragraph are there as explained above. transitions are used appropriately. However. Or. the writer refutes the counterargument in a respectful tone. and the sentence and paragraph structure are sound. or one of the five elements of the counterargument paragraph might need some work. 14/20: In this paragraph. but it needs revision. grammar. grammar. there are several errors in sentence structure. 16/20: In this paragraph. 10/20: This is not a counterargument paragraph. or there may be an awkward sentence. wording. Also. concession. etc. . Or the handwriting is difficult to read. and punctuation. there is a concession sentence respectfully acknowledging the opposition’s view point. etc. The paragraph reads smoothly and is practically error-free in spelling.. or rebuttal. explanation and example. In addition. Or there is language used that is condescending or disrespectful of the opposition. there is a missing element. a mistake in wording. using appropriate transitions. such as no evidence. Or the parts do not go together.