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(For a more detailed discussion of this paper, click here:  Refutation Discussion)

        Because proposals are usually presented in a context of controversy, both your stance on the issue and your proposed solutions will be targets counter arguments. The argument you construct on behalf of your proposal, then, will be strengthened if it anticipates potential counter arguments, objections, or criticisms and takes them into account -- by accommodating those that are legitimate, or by refuting the illegitimate. This assignment gives you the chance to develop a refutation essay, which you should revise and incorporate into your final proposal. For a review of how to anticipate counter arguments, see St. Martin's, pp. 230, & 537-43. And for samples from your colleagues, check out the following:

        Select the argument(s) that most challenge(s) your proposal. Write a 3 to 4 page essay which presents that argument and your response to it.

Your essay should develop several points in the following general pattern: 

  • Clearly define the problem you're addressing. Then state your position and your solution briefly. 
  • Clearly state the counter argument and show what it puts at stake for your proposed solution. 
  • Reasonably and fairly summarize the argument you are going to refute. 
  • Weigh the argument against the facts. Does it misuse the facts? Does it leave some facts out? Does it emphasize the wrong ones? Does it account for exceptions? 
  • Show the weaknesses in the argument's logic. Is the value or meaning it attributes to the facts debatable? Is it based on questionable assumptions? Does it make unwarranted inferences? Does it draw irrelevant or unconnected implications? Does it include any logical fallacies? (For a discussion of "logical fallacies," see St. Martin's, pages 459-462)
Your paper should:  

1. Fairly present the issue and the counter argument.
2. Consistently maintain a reasonable tone in refuting the argument.
3. Carefully construct the whole refutation so that it actually enhances your argument for your proposed solution.

Last updated: 23 April 2000