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Framing Your Argument by using Different CLAIMS

Claims for written Argument:

The thesis for your argument needs to be opinionated or debatable. The thesis will usually fall into 4 different categories or claims. You SHOULD make sure that your thesis fits one of the following types of claims. Sometimes, an arguable thesis may overlap and use 2 or even 3 different claims. Remember, the more claims you incorporate into your thesis, the longer your essay will be. Be sure that you construct a focused and narrow thesis-claim that will allow you enough room to write a full essay on your topic.

1) Claims of Fact or Definition

If you choose to make a claim of fact or definition, be sure that you choose a DEBATABLE fact or definition. For example, if a student claimed that the Brazilian Samba was a slow graceful dance, it would only take a few moments of research for me to find that it is actually a fast-paced, rhythmic, and lively dance. So clearly, this claim would not be debatable; there is no argument. However people disagree about many supposed "facts." One debatable claim I always encounter in the classroom is whether or not student grades really measure achievement. Another claim is whether or not a lie-detector test is really accurate. Are methods of torture (i.e. water-boarding) necessary measures the government should undergo in order to get a suspect to divulge crucial information? And what constitutes "necessary measures" in the first place?

Click here to read a sample that illustrates the claim about fact or definition.

2) Claims About Cause & Effect

Similar to the claims about fact or definition, claims about cause and effect need to be opinionated or debatable. It is obvious, for example, that smoking causes lung cancer, but one could debate whether or not secondhand smoke causes lung cancer. A few recent examples of debatable cause-and-effect topics could be about the new train that has been built, traveling from Beijing to Tibet. Many feel that this train will threaten the Tibetan culture and ancient way of life. Other more typical controversial cause-and-effect topics range from the effect television has on teens to the effect testing has on the quality of education.

Click here to read a sample that illustrates the claim about cause and effect.

3) Claims About Solutions or Policies

This claim is a perfect example of how 2 different claims can overlap each other. Claims about solutions or policies usually work hand in hand with claims about fact or definition. For example, because the healthcare system does not adequately assist Americans (argue that this is a fact), they should be reformed (argue for the solution/policy). Also, any policy relating to under-aged minors is always controversial because it is difficult to define when an adolescent is capable of making a deliberate decision, just as an adult would.

Click here to read a sample that illustrates the claim about solutions or policies.

4) Claims About Value

Claims about value generally lead to essays that evaluate. Anytime a writer places value on someone or something as "the best" or "superior", that writer is making a claim about value. While writers should always anticipate how to respond to the opposing viewpoint, it is particularly crucial to do so when dealing with a claim about value. For example, people who are blind have a unique culture of blindness, and many believe that living a visionless life is better than living a seeing-life. But to properly address this topic and claim, one must anticipate and respond to the opposing viewpoint, that seeing-life has significant benefits. Another example is that of Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC). One could argue that UFC is a dehumanizing sport. The anticipated opposing viewpoint could be that UFC fighters undergo extensive training and skill-based martial arts, thus making it a viable athletic competition.

Click here to read a sample that illustrates the claim about value.