In a debate, arguments are a must. People who are not debaters or not involved in debating, consider debate as a game of logic or argument. And debaters prioritize arguments as importantly as soldiers value their swords in a battle. Because debaters know they can beat their opposition on stage only with the help of arguments.
Now I must answer a familiar question and that is, “Is there any necessity of following any structure of building an argument?” The answer will be simply a yes. A debater should construct an argument structurally. Because the delivered argument in a debater’s speech must be understandable by the judges and the audience sitting in front of them.
For example, you may imagine yourself in the chair of an adjudicator. One of the debaters is quite efficiently delivering their arguments and you are getting everything. In the same house, another debater is also delivering their speech but you are not understanding them clearly. Once they are making a statement without reasoning or any evidence; later they are trying to visualize some examples that are not really relevant to what they already claimed. Now you decide whom will you provide with remarkable credits? Obviously, that debater will achieve more credits who was able to make their delivered arguments understandable to the adjudicators and audience.
Now, you may have started feeling the urgency of delivering a speech in a way that is efficient to make your arguments understandable. Let’s learn how an argument is made.
There are many familiar structures commonly being used. Among them, the most admired structure is known as ‘ARE Argument Structure’. According to this structure, three main parts construct an argument – Assertion, Reasoning, and Evidence (or Example). Let me define and describe what these three parts mean:
An assertion is simply a statement made of one or two sentences that describes what you are claiming in an argument. So, this part is also known as claims for Pro/Government team and as counterclaims for Con/Opposition team. For instance:
- “Homework is a waste of time” (claim) / Homework is effective for learners’ study” (counterclaim);
- “Television news is boring” (claim) / “Television news is a good source of knowledge” (counterclaim);
- “Tomato soup is better than grilled cheese sandwiches” (claim) / “Grilled cheese sandwiches are better than tomato soup” (counterclaim).
In other words, an assertion is the thesis statement or the main point of an argument.
The reasoning is the part of an argument that describes why you are claiming that statement. Without proper reasoning behind the assertion, the regarding argument seems more utopian. To simplify further, this part is nothing but the reason behind your assertion. In other words, the reasoning is the “because” part of an argument, as in the following examples:
- “Homework is a waste of time because it takes time away from other activities that are more important.”
- “Television news is boring because it doesn’t talk about issues that are relevant to me.”
- “Tomato soup is better than a grilled cheese sandwich because it is more nutritious.”
Reasoning can be simple or complex. But when you are working with an argument, the most important thing to emphasize is the use of the word “because” as a cue and the need to connect the statement and the reasoning.
Evidence is another part of an argument that adds practical value to your assertion. It is another unavoidable pillar on which an argument stands up. Just as reasoning supports an assertion, evidence supports reasoning. There are many different kinds of evidence, ranging from expert testimony or statistics to historical or contemporary examples.
- “Homework is a waste of time because it takes time away from other activities that are more important. For example, we end up doing worksheets of math problems instead of getting outside and getting fresh air and exercise.”
- “Television news is boring because it doesn’t talk about issues that are relevant to me. For example, I never see stories about the issues that kids deal with every day.”
- “Tomato soup is better than a grilled cheese sandwich because it is more nutritious. For example, tomato soup contains important vitamins such as lycopene, while grilled cheese sandwiches really don’t have that much nutritional value at all.”
4. Impact (Bonus!)
Nowadays, debaters are used to adding another part to their arguments to make their arguments stronger than others. And that is nothing but the impact on the society and the world of your claims or counterclaims. To describe easily, you may say why your argument is that much important in this debate and more holistically, in society and in the world for the present and future. Additionally, you may also include how people can be benefited or how a problem can be solved if your argument is implemented in reality. That is all about the Impact part. You can embed this part with ‘Evidence’ or describe at the end of speaking out of an argument.
That is all about ARE argument structure. There are also some other ways of argument construction. Among all those ways, the discussed one is the easiest and most widely used. Hopefully, by following this method, you will be able to successfully prepare an argument in a debate and deliver it on stage. Break a leg!