Refutation Example Essay In Mla

2 Sample Refutation Paragraphs
(Each these samples have 2-paragraph refutation; some essays may only have a 1 paragraph refutation while other essays, like research papers, may require a much longer refutation)

Charter Schools Vs. Public Schools (School Choice)
By Mark Liles

Thesis: School choice turns out to not only be a bad idea; it’s also a violation of our constitution.

Refutation: ...[Introduce Opposing Arguments] Considering the many challenges facing public schools, it’s understandable that many people would be eager to pursue new options. Supporters of school choice point out that under the current public school system, parents with economic means already exercise school choice by moving from areas with failing or dangerous schools to neighborhoods with better, safer schools. Their argument is that school choice would allow all parents the freedom, regardless of income level, to select the school that provides the best education (Chub and Moe). Schools would then have to compete for students by offering higher academic results and greater safety. Schools unable to measure up to the standards of successful schools would fail and possibly close. [Acknowledge Valid Parts] Activists within the school choice movement can be applauded for seeking to improve public education, but the changes they propose would in fact seriously damage public education as a whole.

[Counter Arguments] One of the biggest dangers of school choice is the power behind large corporations specializing in opening and operating charter schools. Two notable companies are Green Dot, which is the leading public school operator in Los Angeles (Green Dot), and KIPP, which operates 65 schools in 19 different states [KIPP]. These companies represent a growing trend of privatization of public schools by large corporations. It is feared that these corporations could grow to a point that public control of education would be lost. Education policy would be left in the hands of entrepreneurial think tanks, corporate boards of directors, and lobbyists who are more interested in profit than educating students [Miller and Gerson]. [Begin Concluding] Education should be left in the hands of professional educators and not business people with MBAs. To do otherwise is not only dangerous, it defies common sense.

What I liked about this refutation: The writer calmly and clearly outlines the true concerns and reasons why people oppose the opinion. He makes sure the reader knows that he is outlining opposing viewpoints because he gives hints like "Supporters of school choice point out that..." or "Their argument is that...". This is a nice way for readers to be aware of what others think.

Also, towards the end of the first paragraph, and throughout the second paragraph, the writer spends time clearly attacking these opposing views. He helps the reader feel like the opposing views might SEEM good on the surface, but they are indeed not good enough. He helps the reader see this with hints like "One of the biggest dangers of school choice is..." or "It is feared that...". This paragraph particularly draws in any hostile readers; the writer cunningly draws them in by complimenting their views when he says "Activists within the school choice movement can be applauded for seeking to improve public education," but he immediately points out the flaws, saying that " the changes they propose would in fact seriously damage public education as a whole." Complimenting the opposing argument really invites all your hesitant readers; they’re not threatened, and they’re now more willing to listen to the arguments.

Finally, at the end of the refutation, there is a clear conclusion.

Safe Traveler Cards
Taken from College Writers pg. 733-734

........[Introduce Opposing Arguments] As attractive as Safe Traveler Cards or national ID cards are, they are not without drawbacks. For one thing, as Easterbrook notes, these cards would expedite security procedures only for travelers who do not mind volunteering such information to obtain a card. Moreover they would not prevent passengers with "clean" backgrounds from bringing weapons or explosives on board, as was the case in the September 11 attacks. Perhaps the biggest drawback is that some people believe that these cards would deprive people of their privacy and that for this reason, their disadvantages outweigh their advantages (168).

........However, there are many who disagree with these contentions. [Acknowledge Valid Parts] While national ID cards could lessen a person's anonymity and privacy, [Counter Argument] this is a small loss that would be offset by a great increase in personal security. To Dershowitz--a self proclaimed civil libertarian--this tradeoff would be well worth it. According to Dershowitz, the national ID card would be only a little more intrusive than a photo ID card or social security card. Best of all, it would reduce or eliminate the need for racial profiling: "Anyone who had the [national ID] card could be allowed to pass through airports or building security more expeditiously, and anyone who opted out could be examined much more closely" (590). Such cards would enable airport security officials to do instant background checks on everyone. [Begin Concluding] The personal information in the system would stay in the system and never be made public. The only information on the card would be a person's "name, address, photo, and [finger]print" (Dershowitz 591).

European Grey Wolf

Not blind opposition to progress, but opposition to blind progress.... –John Muir

Argument Essay Assignment Objectives
Why an argumentative essay?

Most of the papers students write in college are arguments. This should not be surprising. We are surrounded by them. Every time we watch television, surf the Internet or read a magazine, we are bombarded with ads. Ads are persuasive arguments trying to get consumers to buy or do something. Here are a couple of ads that use interesting twists to make their argument: Kleenex Tissue Ad 1990- "Teach Them Not To Share"

  • Irony is "theuseofwordstoconvey one meaningthatistheoppositeofitsliteralmeaning" ("Irony").
  • What is ironic about this ad?
  • What is the main argument of the Kleenex ad?

Save America's Forests

    • What is ironic about this ad?
    • What is the main argument of the "Save America's Forests" ad?
    • Is irony an effective way to make an argument?
Elements of argument

When writing or analyzing arguments, we begin by examining how the argument appeals to the reader.  There are three types of appeals utilized in arguments: logos or logical, pathos or emotional, and ethos or ethical appeals.

  • Logos or the logical appeal relies upon well-developed, well-organized and well-reasoned arguments supported by evidence from reliable, authoritative sources. When writing argumentative essays and papers, we rely heavily upon the logical appeal to make our case.
    • The evidence utilized in the logical appeal is usually research-based evidence: statistics, clinical studies, any empirical evidence collected carefully and methodically.
    • This is also why we write in third person. We let the evidence drive our arguments, so readers do not think our work is based upon our biased viewpoint.
  • Pathos or emotional appeal recognizes that humans are emotional beings. The key to using the emotional appeal successfully in papers is to provide an opportunity for an emotional response and not to try and orchestrate an emotional response.
    • An example of the wrong use of an emotional appeal are infomercials for organizations like Care. While there is no doubt their work and message is important, they try to manipulate the audience with the use of emotional music, manipulative photographs, with an emotional narrative running beneath the music and images. While this may be okay for non-profit organizations, it does not work in college papers. Do not try to manipulate your audience this way.
    • Also, do not try to use emotionally charged language. Stay in third person and avoid sounding biased, accusatory or self-righteous. As a writer, the people you are trying to persuade are the people who either disagree with you or are not sure. By sounding accusatory or self-righteous, you will put the opposition on the defensive, and you have already lost your argument.
    • The proper use of emotions is through narrative case studies. Case studies provide the opportunity to appeal to readers' emotions. The key is not to tell the readers what to feel or to try and manipulate the readers to feel a specific emotion. Instead, writers tell the story and allow the readers to decide how they want to respond. Readers can become emotionally involved with the topic or not. It is up to them. This works well for social issues like hunger and homelessness, bullying, child abuse, or illegal immigration.  The blending of specific case studies with empirical evidence creates a deeply meaningful approach to argument. If I am talking about homeless children in America, by providing the statistics on the large number of children effected by this issue along with stories of the struggles of specific children, this drives the point home. We have a name and face to go with those numbers making the argument very human.
  • Ethos or the ethical appeal relates to the writer's personna being projected through the work. By using an unbiased tone and unbiased language, we project an image of trustworthiness and credibility. That is also why we use credible sources. We, as writers of college papers, do not have any credibility yet with our audience. By using authoritative, reliable sources, we borrow their credibility to help persuade readers to adopt our point of view. We are effectively saying, it is not just me that thinks this way. Here is a testimonial from Dr. So and So and his research that supports it. The research, surveys or clinical studies provides the evidence that supports the argument.
  • Looking back at the ads above, what types of appeals did those ads use?

Beyond the use of these appeals, there are some other elements to consider when analyzing or writing arguments: audience,purpose, a well defined issue, compelling evidence, refutation, and persona.

  • Audience: What audience does the writer have in mind? Who is the target audience the writer is trying to persuade?
    • As a writer, your audience is the first consideration. This determines the language you will use, the sources you will cite, and the approach you will take.
    • For example, if I were writing an anti-abortion paper, I would address a panel of scientists much differently than a church congregation. Some of my sources would change, and my language use would probably change. For scientists, I would sound more clinical. For the church congregation, I would sound more emotional.
    • My evidence would change, too. For scientists, I would use clinical evidence. For a church congregation. I would use sacred text.
    • What if my target audience were children instead of adults? Once again, some of my sources would change and my approach would be different.
  • Purpose/Thesis: Why are you writing it? What are you trying to prove?
    • The purpose is the thesis statement.
    • As a writer, you need to know why you are writing the paper.
    • It cannot be just to fulfill a requirement.
    • It is imperative that your position is clear. What exactly are you arguing? It should be very apparent which side you are on and why.
    • Provide the reasoning behind your position.
    • Remember: do not state it overtly like this: The purpose of this essay is to prove that potential dog owners must research breeds in order to choose dogs that best suit their lifestyles and opt to spay or neuter them if the overcrowded dog population is ever going to be solved.
    • This is considered weak.
    • That said, I do have a good thesis statement if I drop the initial part: Potential dog owners must research breeds in order to choose dogs that best suit their lifestyles and then spay or neuter them if the overcrowded dog population is ever going to be solved.
    • Here is an example from a student paper. Although the American flag is worthy of great esteem, the government cannot take away the right to desecrate the flag without taking away all that it stands for–freedom.
  • A Well-Defined issue: What exactly is being argued in the paper? What is included or not included?
    • As a writer, it is your job to set parameters around your argument. Be sure to clearly explain the main argument of the paper. For example, if I were writing an anti-abortion paper, I might set the parameters around third trimester. This defines exactly what will be included and what will not be included. In this example, the paper is against third trimester abortions only, not abortion in general.
  • Compelling evidence: What kinds of evidence are utilized in the paper? Is the evidence sound? Does it come from authoritative sources?
    • Be sure to use reliable sources. Do not just Google the topic and grab the random information that may pop up. Google Advanced and Google Scholar help you filter some of the information, but be sure to evaluate the sources you choose.
    • Use journal articles when possible because they are usually written by authorities in a specific field. They will provide multiple sources for their information because they must cite their sources.
    • Remember to include a variety of evidence, including facts, data, examples and subject matter expert opinion.
    • When using Internet sources, pay attention to the URL. What is the domain name? Is it a .edu, .net, .com, .org, .gov, .mil? How does this influence the information being provided?
    • Who is the author? What is the author's background?
    • A part of what makes your argument compelling is the variety of sources that you use and the credibility of those sources. You cannot win an argument with random information.
    • Do not rely heavily upon a single source to carry your paper. A variety of sources shows that you have done your diligence as a writer and increases your credibility.
  • Refutation: Does the author anticipate the opposition's main arguments? Is the author prepared with counterarguments and compelling evidence that can persuade the opposition to adopt a different view?
    • Refutation or rebuttal is incredibly important to your argument. You cannot write a one-sided argument.
    • You must first briefly identify an opposition's point. Then immediately address it with counterarguments and compelling evidence.
    • As stated earlier, it is the opposition that you are trying to convince. So, how well you handle this section of your paper will determine its effectiveness as an argument.
  • Persona: What is the author's attitude toward the topic? It is hostile, sarcastic, irate, or reasonable? What kind of language and tone are being used?
    • We touched on this when we talked about the ethical appeal.
    • Your tone needs to be calm and reasonable.
    • Your language needs to be honest, clear and respectful.
    • Avoid aggressive, confrontational or biased language and tone.
How to write the argument . . .

First, you need to determine what kind of argument you are writing. Are you writing a position paper? Sample topics would include illegal immigration, wolf protection programs, paying college athletes. Or, are you writing a solution paper, solving a problem? Sample topics include bullying, homelessness, pollution. Next, identify what you already know about this topic. Write a brief outline establishing what you want to argue on this topic? Establish the purpose of your argument. Establishing this before you start researching the topic will make it easier for you to determine what you need to cite in your paper. Next choose an appropriate format.

  1. Block
  2. Rebuttal Throughout - only works with position topics

Block:

I. Introduction & Thesis Statement

II. Background information - this section is necessary for solution arguments but sometimes unnecessary for position arguments.

A. Define key words and terms that will help to define the parameters of your argument B. Provide background information. If I want to solve global warming, I first need to explain what it is and how it works, so I can show readers how my solution will fix it. C. Establish the severity of the problem. In real life, solutions cost money. If you want taxpayers to pay for it, you need to clearly establish that the problem is severe and must be addressed.

III. First claim: For death penalty because it will stop overcrowding

A. Give statistics on overcrowding B. Give statistics on future problems if no solution is provided C. Explain how the process will help D. Explain how if appeal process is limited this will further help the situation E. Transition

IV. 2nd claim: For death penalty because it will stop repeat offenders

A. Give statistics on repeat offenders who commit murder B. Give statistics if this is not stopped C. Explain how process would work if implemented D. Explain how this would also stop overcrowding because repeat offenders would not be imprisoned E. Transition

V. 3rd claim: for death penalty because it costs less money

A. Give statistics on the cost of housing B. Compare that to the cost of a limited appeal process C. Explain how this will work if implemented D. Explain how this too relates to previous info E. Transition

VI. Rebuttal: Rebuttal of anti-death penalty arguments

A, List a few of the opposition's counterarguments (three) B. Take each one, one at a time, and supply statistics to prove it wrong, example would be to prove that innocent people won’t be executed C. #2 Rebuttal: No other democracy uses it, their side, your side with statistics to prove them wrong D. #3 Rebuttal: Death penalty cheapens value of life: their side, your side with statistics to back it up. E. Transition

VI. Conclusion

Rebuttal Throughout

I. Introduction and thesis

III. First Rebuttal -Death penalty is barbaric

A. Opposition side B. Your side C. Statistics to support your side and prove them wrong D. Explanation of how this will help society E. Transition

IV. 2nd rebuttal - death penalty no other democracy

A. Opposition side B. Your side C. Statistics to support your side and prove them wrong D. Explanation of how this will help society E. Transition

V. 3rd rebuttal - killing innocent people

A. Opposition side B. Your side C. Statistics to support your side and prove them wrong D. Explanation of how this will help society E. Transition

VII. Conclusion

Resources for Writing Arguments:

Argument Rough Draft

  1. Develop a argumentative essay rough draft using block or rebuttal throughout
    • Typed MLA formatted Argumentative essay,
    • Four pages of text
    • Plus MLA formatted Works Cited page
    • Must use 5 sources, two must be database sources
    • Provide copies of the sources used in the paper: web pages, database article pages, xeroxed copies of books,
    • Must include in-text citations that identifies the source for the evidence
    • Papers will not be accepted without these minimal requirements. 
  • Illustrate ability to use third person point of view effectively in an argument.
  • Present a thesis statement at the end of the introductory paragraph.
  • Support the thesis using RESEARCH MATERIAL and specific details.
  • Illustrate the ability to argue a position or a solution argument.
  • Support the thesis using research material and specific details.
  • Do not list sources in your Works Cited page that are not cited somewhere in the text of your paper.
  • Failure to cite works quoted in your paper is considered plagiarism resulting in a failing grade on this paper. Be careful.
  • Click the "Submit" button and follow the directions for submitting your work..

Remember when using sources, you have the entire article, but the reader only has the quote or paraphrase that you have used in your paper.  Be sure and explain the full implications of your quote.

  • Review your rough draft 
  • Create a final draft with an MLA Works Cited page 
  • Turn in your annotated source material you list in your Works Cited




argumentative essay

Why a argumentative essay? The ability to write a convincing essentially non-biased argumentative research essay is critical in college writing.  

You must use five different sources in this paper.

Note: check the list of taboo topics before you begin writing your paper.


Assignment Information

step one
Choose a topic that you can argue either a position or a solution. For example, to argue a position would be to argue for or against something, like the death penalty. To argue a solution is to argue how to solve something, like how to solve the air pollution problem in Phoenix.

Example: The Effects of PC on Higher Education


step two
On a blank sheet of paper, write your topic down and at least 5 reasons in support of and 5 reasons against your topic.  
Or, if you are writing a solution paper, look at at least five different solutions for the problem.  

step three
See how the pros and cons relate. Decide which you want to write about. Do you want to focus on the pros or the cons. Pick the one you feel offers the most possibilities for exploration.  
Or, choose the solution that seems the most logical, the most doable.  

step four
Freewrite. Look at your diagram for ideas  

step five
Transform your chosen topic into a "Guiding Question" and write it down.  

What is the main question that your essay will answer?  

Example:  

What are three main effects of Political Correctness on Higher Education.  

step six
Find at least three sources to help you answer your guiding question. You must use these sources in your work either in a quote, paraphrase and/or summary. 

  1. source guidelines
  2. Use 5 sources.
  3. Use database sources and web pages. Be sure and turn in copies of your resources with your final paper. I will not accept any paper without the sources turned in to me.  
  4. Create a Works Cited page from your sources.


step seven
Now that you have gathered your information and collected new information, create an outline of your paper.  

step eight
Answer your "Guiding Question" directly with your thesis statement.  

Why are literary works being banned when their overall theme is positive? Because of over-zealous proponents of Political Correctness, once celebrated literary works like Mark Twain's  Huckleberry Finn, William Shakespeare's Hamlet, and Harper Lee's  To Kill a Mockingbird are being banned despite their important universal themes.  

step nine
Check your outline. Place your thesis at the top of the outline followed by the causes or effects: I. II. III. Under each main point, place two main specific points that will support the general topic sentence and the thesis. Use capital letters for the specific points.  

step ten
Write the rough draft.  

step eleven
Revise the rough draft. 

Assignment: Answer the following questions regarding developing the argument.

 1. Describe in one or two sentences the types of evidence you need for a convincing argument essay.

  1. Describe the three types of appeals: rational, emotional and ethical. Why does a good argument use all three?
  2. In your ENG101 Argument Essay, how many sources must you use?


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License by Lynn McClelland and Marianne Botos.

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