Analyzing an Argument

      All texts make some kind of argument, claiming something and then offering reasons and evidence as support for the claim. As a critical reader, you need to look closely at the argument a text makes—you need to recognize all the claims it makes, consider the support it offers for those claims, and decide how you want to respond. What do you think, and why? Here are some of the aspects of a text you'll need to consider when you analyze an argument:

  • What is the claim? What is the main point the writer is trying to make? Is there a clearly stated THESIS, or is it merely implied?

    ______________________________________________________________________________________

    ______________________________________________________________________________________

  • What support does the writer offer for the claim? What REASONS are given to support the claim? What EVIDENCE backs up those reasons? Facts? Statistics? Testimonials by authorities? Examples? Pertinent anecdotes? Are the reasons plausible and sufficient?

    ______________________________________________________________________________________

    ______________________________________________________________________________________

  • How evenhandedly does the writer present the issues? Is there any mention of counterarguments? If so, how does the writer deal with them? By refuting them? By acknowledging them and responding to them reasonably? Does the writer treat other arguments respectfully? dismissively? Are his or her own arguments appropriately qualified?

    ______________________________________________________________________________________

    ______________________________________________________________________________________

  • What authorities or sources of outside information does the writer use? How are they used? How credible are they? Are they in any way biased or otherwise unreliable? Are they current?

    ______________________________________________________________________________________

    ______________________________________________________________________________________

  • How does the writer address you as the reader? Does the writer assume that readers know something about what is being discussed? Does his or her language include you or exclude you? (Hint: If you see the word we, do you feel included?) Do you sense that you and the author share any beliefs or attitudes?

    ______________________________________________________________________________________

    ______________________________________________________________________________________