The Dandelion Group

Technique of the week

An argument's anatomy

A single question should never make your entire case crumble. If you want to build a strong position, examine each element of your argument. Solid evidence coupled with reliable reasoning can result in convincing claims.

An argument consists of three elements: a conclusion, premises and evidence. Your conclusion is your central claim or point you want to prove. Premises are the manifold reasons that you give, which you can back up with data or examples. Should you have too many premises or too much evidence, choose wisely because an argument is only as strong as its weakest link.

How to construct an argument?

  1. Identify your conclusion and premises.
    (e.g. Summarise your position in one sentence with ‘because’ and make sure that all premises are in the second part.)

  2. Put your reasons in a natural order.
    (e.g. with the help of post-its and transitions)

  3. Find reliable evidence for each premise and remove the poor ones.
    (e.g. with representative examples, figures or stories)

Exercise

On 18 September 2018, the 73rd Session of the UN General Assembly took place, with a new president. María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés presided as the first Latin American woman. She stated, “The General Assembly is not just the most democratic and representative forum in the world. It is a space embracing the most diverse cultures of the world.”  Before you read the explanation in the transcript of her speech, list three reasons and evidence that support her statement.

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Ben WilhelmComment