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18 Argument, Counterargument, & Refutation

In academic writing, we often use an Argument essay structure. Argument essays have these familiar components, just like other types of essays:

  • Introduction
  • Body Paragraphs

But Argument essays also contain these particular elements:

  • Debatable thesis statement in the Introduction
  • Argument – paragraphs which show support for the author’s thesis (for example: reasons, evidence, data, statistics)
  • Counterargument – at least one paragraph which explains the opposite point of view
  • Concession – a sentence or two acknowledging that there could be some truth to the Counterargument
  • Refutation (also called Rebuttal) – sentences which explain why the Counterargument is not as strong as the original Argument

Consult  Introductions & Titles for more on writing debatable thesis statements and  Paragraphs ~ Developing Support for more about developing your Argument.

Imagine that you are writing about vaping. After reading several articles and talking with friends about vaping, you decide that you are strongly opposed to it.

Which working thesis statement would be better?

  • Vaping should be illegal because it can lead to serious health problems.

Many students do not like vaping.

Because the first option provides a debatable position, it is a better starting point for an Argument essay.

Next, you would need to draft several paragraphs to explain your position. These paragraphs could include facts that you learned in your research, such as statistics about vapers’ health problems, the cost of vaping, its effects on youth, its harmful effects on people nearby, and so on, as an appeal to logos . If you have a personal story about the effects of vaping, you might include that as well, either in a Body Paragraph or in your Introduction, as an appeal to pathos .

A strong Argument essay would not be complete with only your reasons in support of your position. You should also include a Counterargument, which will show your readers that you have carefully researched and considered both sides of your topic. This shows that you are taking a measured, scholarly approach to the topic – not an overly-emotional approach, or an approach which considers only one side. This helps to establish your ethos as the author. It shows your readers that you are thinking clearly and deeply about the topic, and your Concession (“this may be true”) acknowledges that you understand other opinions are possible.

Here are some ways to introduce a Counterargument:

  • Some people believe that vaping is not as harmful as smoking cigarettes.
  • Critics argue that vaping is safer than conventional cigarettes.
  • On the other hand, one study has shown that vaping can help people quit smoking cigarettes.

Your paragraph would then go on to explain more about this position; you would give evidence here from your research about the point of view that opposes your own opinion.

Here are some ways to begin a Concession and Refutation:

  • While this may be true for some adults, the risks of vaping for adolescents outweigh its benefits.
  • Although these critics may have been correct before, new evidence shows that vaping is, in some cases, even more harmful than smoking.
  • This may have been accurate for adults wishing to quit smoking; however, there are other methods available to help people stop using cigarettes.

Your paragraph would then continue your Refutation by explaining more reasons why the Counterargument is weak. This also serves to explain why your original Argument is strong. This is a good opportunity to prove to your readers that your original Argument is the most worthy, and to persuade them to agree with you.

Activity ~ Practice with Counterarguments, Concessions, and Refutations

A. Examine the following thesis statements with a partner. Is each one debatable?

B. Write  your own Counterargument, Concession, and Refutation for each thesis statement.

Thesis Statements:

  • Online classes are a better option than face-to-face classes for college students who have full-time jobs.
  • Students who engage in cyberbullying should be expelled from school.
  • Unvaccinated children pose risks to those around them.
  • Governments should be allowed to regulate internet access within their countries.

Is this chapter:

…too easy, or you would like more detail? Read “ Further Your Understanding: Refutation and Rebuttal ” from Lumen’s Writing Skills Lab.

Note: links open in new tabs.

reasoning, logic

emotion, feeling, beliefs

moral character, credibility, trust, authority

goes against; believes the opposite of something

ENGLISH 087: Academic Advanced Writing Copyright © 2020 by Nancy Hutchison is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Argumentative Essays: The Counter-Argument & Refutation

An argumentative essay presents an argument for or against a topic. For example, if your topic is working from home , then your essay would either argue in favor of working from home (this is the for  side) or against working from home.

Like most essays, an argumentative essay begins with an introduction that ends with the writer's position (or stance) in the thesis statement .

Introduction Paragraph

(Background information....)

  • Thesis statement : Employers should give their workers the option to work from home in order to improve employee well-being and reduce office costs.

This thesis statement shows that the two points I plan to explain in my body paragraphs are 1) working from home improves well-being, and 2) it allows companies to reduce costs. Each topic will have its own paragraph. Here's an example of a very basic essay outline with these ideas:

  • Background information

Body Paragraph 1

  • Topic Sentence : Workers who work from home have improved well-being .
  • Evidence from academic sources

Body Paragraph 2

  • Topic Sentence : Furthermore, companies can reduce their expenses by allowing employees to work at home .
  • Summary of key points
  • Restatement of thesis statement

Does this look like a strong essay? Not really . There are no academic sources (research) used, and also...

You Need to Also Respond to the Counter-Arguments!

The above essay outline is very basic. The argument it presents can be made much stronger if you consider the counter-argument , and then try to respond (refute) its points.

The counter-argument presents the main points on the other side of the debate. Because we are arguing FOR working from home, this means the counter-argument is AGAINST working from home. The best way to find the counter-argument is by reading research on the topic to learn about the other side of the debate. The counter-argument for this topic might include these points:

  • Distractions at home > could make it hard to concentrate
  • Dishonest/lazy people > might work less because no one is watching

Next, we have to try to respond to the counter-argument in the refutation (or rebuttal/response) paragraph .

The Refutation/Response Paragraph

The purpose of this paragraph is to address the points of the counter-argument and to explain why they are false, somewhat false, or unimportant. So how can we respond to the above counter-argument? With research !

A study by Bloom (2013) followed workers at a call center in China who tried working from home for nine months. Its key results were as follows:

  • The performance of people who worked from home increased by 13%
  • These workers took fewer breaks and sick-days
  • They also worked more minutes per shift

In other words, this study shows that the counter-argument might be false. (Note: To have an even stronger essay, present data from more than one study.) Now we have a refutation.

Where Do We Put the Counter-Argument and Refutation?

Commonly, these sections can go at the beginning of the essay (after the introduction), or at the end of the essay (before the conclusion). Let's put it at the beginning. Now our essay looks like this:

Counter-argument Paragraph

  • Dishonest/lazy people might work less because no one is watching

Refutation/Response Paragraph

  • Study: Productivity  increased by 14%
  • (+ other details)

Body Paragraph 3

  • Topic Sentence : In addition, people who work from home have improved well-being .

Body Paragraph 4

The outline is stronger now because it includes the counter-argument and refutation. Note that the essay still needs more details and research to become more convincing.

Working from home

Working from home may increase productivity.

Extra Advice on Argumentative Essays

It's not a compare and contrast essay.

An argumentative essay focuses on one topic (e.g. cats) and argues for or against it. An argumentative essay should not have two topics (e.g. cats vs dogs). When you compare two ideas, you are writing a compare and contrast essay. An argumentative essay has one topic (cats). If you are FOR cats as pets, a simplistic outline for an argumentative essay could look something like this:

  • Thesis: Cats are the best pet.
  • are unloving
  • cause allergy issues
  • This is a benefit >  Many working people do not have time for a needy pet
  • If you have an allergy, do not buy a cat.
  • But for most people (without allergies), cats are great
  • Supporting Details

Use Language in Counter-Argument That Shows Its Not Your Position

The counter-argument is not your position. To make this clear, use language such as this in your counter-argument:

  • Opponents might argue that cats are unloving.
  • People who dislike cats would argue that cats are unloving.
  • Critics of cats could argue that cats are unloving.
  • It could be argued that cats are unloving.

These  underlined phrases make it clear that you are presenting  someone else's argument , not your own.

Choose the Side with the Strongest Support

Do not choose your side based on your own personal opinion. Instead, do some research and learn the truth about the topic. After you have read the arguments for and against, choose the side with the strongest support as your position.

Do Not Include Too Many Counter-arguments

Include the main (two or three) points in the counter-argument. If you include too many points, refuting these points becomes quite difficult.

If you have any questions, leave a comment below.

- Matthew Barton / Creator of Englishcurrent.com

Additional Resources :

  • Writing a Counter-Argument & Refutation (Richland College)
  • Language for Counter-Argument and Refutation Paragraphs (Brown's Student Learning Tools)

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12 comments on “ Argumentative Essays: The Counter-Argument & Refutation ”

Thank you professor. It is really helpful.

Can you also put the counter argument in the third paragraph

It depends on what your instructor wants. Generally, a good argumentative essay needs to have a counter-argument and refutation somewhere. Most teachers will probably let you put them anywhere (e.g. in the start, middle, or end) and be happy as long as they are present. But ask your teacher to be sure.

Thank you for the information Professor

how could I address a counter argument for “plastic bags and its consumption should be banned”?

For what reasons do they say they should be banned? You need to address the reasons themselves and show that these reasons are invalid/weak.

Thank you for this useful article. I understand very well.

Thank you for the useful article, this helps me a lot!

Thank you for this useful article which helps me in my study.

Thank you, professor Mylene 102-04

it was very useful for writing essay

Very useful reference body support to began writing a good essay. Thank you!

Leave a Reply Cancel reply

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refutation essay outline

How to Write an Argumentative Essay: Easy Guide with Tips and Examples

refutation essay outline

What Is an Argumentative Essay

Argumentative essays involve a strong stance on an issue to sway the reader toward the author's viewpoint. This differs from a persuasive essay, which relies more on the writer's emotions and views.

This kind of essay typically necessitates a deep study of argumentative essay topics and is structured in three main parts consisting of five paragraphs: one opening, three body, and one closing. Argumentative essays aim to get the reader to agree with the thesis statement, which is backed by evidence, facts, and data. At that point, you should specify your main thought or thesis statement while considering this. It will be the focus of attention for whatever comes after this juncture.

A student is given this kind of paper to practice debating. As a result, it may significantly impact a person's ability to speak in front of an audience later in life. Concentrating on facts and information while writing an argumentative essay rather than your opinions or preferences is crucial. The author may choose to present opposing views equally or to favor one over the other. Nevertheless, the thesis must contain all the main arguments and rebuttals discussed in the paper. It is similar to a political dialogue with oneself in many aspects. Now that you understand what is an argumentative essay let's browse through more interesting details that make up an argumentative essay.

Elements of an Argumentative Essay

The key elements of an argument include the following:

How to Write an Argumentative Essay

1. Problem Statement - Academic papers often begin with an unanswered question, a contradiction, or an explanation of a crucial concept. This is standard practice in academic writing to grab the reader's attention, highlight the importance of the study, and identify the literature to which the study will add.

2. Literature Review - After stating the problem, describe a gap in the literature that the research is trying to fill. This gap can be an unresolved question, a paradox, a missing piece of information, a theoretical inconsistency, or any other flaw in the existing understanding of the phenomenon in question.

3. The Research Focus - A statement describing the specific emphasis of the research is included after the literature review. This might be expressed in various ways, such as a question, a hypothesis, or—more frequently—a declaration of the research's goals or objectives.

4. Method and Methodology - The approach and methodology explain how you would answer the inquiry or how you achieved your results. Normally, the argumentative essay introduction and abstract concisely summarize the procedure and methodology. Here you outline your extensive research process, present conclusions, and explain why these steps were essential for the project. You should aim to concisely provide the most pertinent information using a few terms.

5. Results/Evidence - You're informing the reader of what you discovered. Evidence may be arranged according to methodological components, major topics, theories, concepts, case studies, historical eras, laws, literary genres, contexts, geographic regions, or other categories. The discussion must be directly related to the thesis's issue or argument, which is crucial.

6. Discussion and Conclusion - The last part of the storyline involves providing the answer to the inquiry or summarizing the argument and the primary proof used to validate it. This is then followed by a review of the importance of the research and the implications that result from it.

How to Write an Argumentative Essay with Steps

For an argumentative essay to be effective, having more than one opinion isn't enough. A strong stance won't be impactful if improperly organized and supported with sound reasons and facts. With this easy-to-follow guide, let us discover how to write an argumentative essay tailored to your target audience!

In the meantime, you can always ask us - ' write essay for me ' without putting in your effort!

How to Write an Argumentative Essay

Choose Your Research Sources for Your Argumentative Essay

Researching the available literature in-depth is necessary for an argumentative essay. Additionally, they call for empirical study, where a writer gathers the data through the following techniques.

  • Interviews.
  • Experiments.
  • Observations.

Present your readers with dependable sources that back up your assertions. It's wise to read material from both sides of the subject. For the most current data, try and use sources released within the last two decades unless there is a distinct reason why not. Here are some good sources to look at:

  • Books produced by scholarly presses
  • Scholarly journals
  • Academic resources such as EBSCO and JSTOR
  • Nationally distributed publications like The New York Times

And if you struggle with finding good academic sources, feel free to use our research paper help !

Consider the Argumentative Essay Outline

As the argumentative essay structure is contingent upon its content and argument, each essay will have its particular structural difficulties. However, a fundamental part of the writing process is honing the ability to put forth an argument that is both convincing and lucid. Let's take a look at the argumentative essay format:

Start with the main claim in the introduction – The core thesis you want to support. Establishing your claim is one of the most crucial components of any academic work, whether a movie review essay , a presentation, a dissertation, a research paper, or a thesis. A strong assertion should be audacious, captivating, and, most crucially, debatable.

Present the proofs in the body paragraphs - Facts, data, sources, and examples must be provided as evidence and correctly connected. It is essential to acknowledge that just because there is evidence, it does not necessarily make the proposition true. You must contribute some effort to convince your reader of the relationship between the data and your reasoning.

Find opposing arguments and respond to them - Taking other perspectives into account and looking for potential objections is also essential. We may favor ideas that endorse our views, which can result in one-sided or faulty arguments. If we take the time to actively consider opposing opinions and incorporate them into our own thinking, we can create arguments with more depth and complexity.

Conclusion - The last piece of your argumentative essay outline is the conclusion, which should be an informed summary of the argument, using language that is in line with the reliability of your discoveries. You may use this as a chance to make predictions or recommendations, offer some practical applications, or identify potential further research.

Add Transitions within Argumentative Essay Paragraphs

At this point, you should have at least three strong body paragraphs, each containing 3-5 pieces of supporting evidence and your personal analysis/synthesis. It's a good idea to ensure that the paragraph's topic sentences still reflect the rest of the content. And consider the relationship between these arguments.

If needed, reorganize your paragraphs for the most logical order. To take your entire essay to the next level, add some sentences at the beginning or end of each paragraph to link the argumentative essay ideas together.

Add Bibliography to Your Argumentative Essay

See what bibliographic style your teacher wants you to use. Generally, the instructions will include 'MLA style,' 'APA,' etc., or they will give you their own rules.

These guidelines will specify how to structure your 'works cited' section after your essay with the complete bibliographic information and how to format your citations in the body of your essay.

Revise Your Final Argumentative Essay

As you are editing, look through your work from start to finish. Does everything make sense? Are there any quotations or paraphrases that don't have a context? Are there any sudden changes in the subject? Fix it up!

How to Write an Argumentative Essay

Verify your thesis statement twice, as your essay's success hinges on the clarity of this statement, and without a clear thesis, it is difficult to write an outstanding essay. Make sure it is:

  • Debatable because someone could disagree with this assertion notwithstanding the facts.
  • Narrow & specific: Avoids a stance that is too wide to support.
  • Complex: demonstrates your profound thought processes by taking into account the qualifiers and/or objections in your argument.

Earn a Grade You Really Deserve!

Let our expert writers craft a compelling argument that will convince even the toughest critics!

3 Ways to Approach Argumentative Writing

Classical Approach - This is the most common approach and where you should:

  • Introduce your issue. Most lecturers will want you to deliver a strong thesis statement after your introductory paragraph. The goal is to introduce your main points to your audience before delving further.
  • Explain the problem in detail. Provide the reasons why a certain course of action or thinking is required to make your case. This will happen throughout several sentences.
  • Address the opposition. Briefly describe the opposing viewpoint in a few paragraphs. Make each argument against the adversary.
  • Provide your proof. After addressing the opposing viewpoint, explain why your side is superior.
  • Present your conclusion. Reiterate your core claim or thesis and highlight the important aspects of your argument in your conclusion. This is a good time to urge your audience to act if you advocate for change. Inform them of the changes they might make.

Rogerian Approach - The Rogerian method works well for argumentative pieces on contentious issues like global warming, gender identity, and philosophical problems. In contrast to other approaches, there is no set framework to adhere to. Instead, it involves giving both sides of an argument equal weight when presenting the facts. A broader view is essential, and finding a compromise is more significant than finding a solution.

Toulmin Approach - Polemical debates can benefit greatly from this tactic. It seeks to reduce pointless debates by locating areas of agreement within a discussion. For instance, if your topic is whether animal testing is banned, you would need to examine the most important points on both sides of the debate. You may discuss the benefits and drawbacks here.

Good Argumentative Essay Topics

Here are some good argumentative essay topics from our dissertation writing services you can consider for your next assignment:

  • Are virtual personalities expected to adhere to the same ethical codes as human influencers?
  • Should businesses be mandated to offer retraining and educational opportunities for workers that have been laid off?
  • Do social media networks bear any responsibility for the harm caused to their users?
  • Is remote work a workable solution for contemporary workplaces?
  • Is gene editing appropriate to remove inherited illnesses or improve physical characteristics?
  • Is it wise to prioritize sustainable agriculture and plant-based diets to lessen carbon emissions?
  • Who should be held liable for incidents involving autonomous cars?
  • Are gig workers deserving of the same advantages and security as regular workers?
  • Does playing violent video games correlate with aggressive behavior in children and adolescents?
  • Should corporations be permitted to secure exclusive rights to genes and genetic data for commercial gain?

Read also an informative article about the movie review essay .

Argumentative Essay Examples

Below you can find some good argumentative essay examples from our argumentative essay writer . The first essay talks about the value that comes with the freedom of being able to strike for public workers.

Argumentative Essay Example: Should Public Workers be Allowed to Strike?

Say goodbye to 'stress at work' and welcome the 'freedom to express yourself.' Most public workers are denied their right to expression even after being exposed to bad working conditions and rights violations. These violations deny them the morale to perform well in their duties. Enabling workers to strike motivates them to work since it encourages them to speak out whenever they feel their rights, safety, and/or regulations have been compromised. Countries across the globe should always allow public workers to strike. ‍

The second essay from our dissertation writing services discusses the importance of economic equality in a nation, alongside possible repercussions and potential threats if not met.

At this point, you should be well aware of the argumentative essay definition and the ways you can structure it perfectly. You might even have already composed your argumentative essay and would like to have it evaluated. In this case, don't hesitate to contact us. We can review your academic essays and help you gain the grade you deserve. If you haven't written it yet, our essay writing service can assist you. Even if you want to know how to write an autobiography , all you need to do is submit your essay writing help request, and we'll take care of it in a flash!

Take a Stand and Impress Your Audience!

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Rebuttal Essay Outline

  • Author Miriam M.

A rebuttal essay is used to provide a counter-argument against an opponent. It is a type of argument that addresses and challenges each aspect of a claim. The introduction of a rebuttal essay should present a clear thesis statement while the body paragraphs should give evidence and analysis that disapproves of the opposing claim.

The following is a rebuttal essay outline:

1. Introduction.

A rebuttal essay’s introduction should contain:

  • Proof that the writer understands the opposing argument. You must show that you have clearly understood the original argument.
  • Thesis statement . Your thesis statement should entail the overall point for the whole essay. It should set up your essay and your stand in your topic. In a rebuttal essay, your thesis statement should directly oppose the thesis statement of the original claim that you are countering. Your thesis statement should contain specific wording and your content should pose a clear argument.
  • Background information. Your introduction should provide some background information on the situation that you are discussing. This will help your readers to have an understanding of your arguments.

2. Body paragraphs.

The body paragraphs in your rebuttal essay should consist of your counter-arguments. They should address and counter all the points of the opposing argument by point. A rebuttal essay can take several approaches to counter an argument. They include:

  • Addressing faulty assumptions.
  • Contradictions.
  • Unconvincing examples.
  • Errors in relating causes to effects.

You are required to provide analysis, explanation and specific examples that support your overall point for every argument you present in the body paragraphs. You can counter the arguments by showing that the opposing claim is inferior to your own claim or flawed in some way hence not credible as opposed to disapproving a point entirely. Ensure that you show the reader why they should take your side on each particular point by providing enough proof supported by research to support your claims.

3. Conclusion Your rebuttal essay’s conclusion should synthesize your main points. You should focus on emphasizing the strengths of your arguments and directing the reader’s attention to a larger meaning in your conclusion. you can achieve this by:

  • Looking into the future.
  • Posing questions.
  • Challenging the reader.

You should restate your perspective on the topic and pull all of your information together to show the reader how each point you made should impact their opinion. Ensure that your conclusion has a strong impact on the reader by being specific and straight to the point.

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AP ® Lang teachers: looking to help your students improve their rhetorical analysis essays?

Coach Hall Writes

clear, concise rhetorical analysis instruction.

Argument Essay Outline

November 5, 2022 by Beth Hall

AP ® Lang argument essays are arguably the most difficult FRQ on the exam because students do not have sources or a passage to work with. However, when planning an argumentative essay, whether it is a timed essay or one you have multiple days to complete, it is important to create an argument essay outline.

Why Do I Need an Argument Essay Outline?

Think of the argument essay outline as your blueprint or your map. When writing a timed essay, your outline helps you know what to include so that you can devote more time to writing your body paragraphs. An outline also allows you to brainstorm a thesis and evidence so that when it comes time to actually write the essay, you will be able to use your time efficiently and also ensure that you are meeting the requirements of the AP ® Lang rubric.

What is an Argumentative Essay Outline?

An argument essay outline typically includes your thesis, which is the overall claim of your essay. For more information about how to write an argument essay thesis, check out this video.

When writing an outline, you can use bullet points if you want to. Make sure that your thesis asserts a clear position that answers the prompt. Don’t try to argue both sides evenly, though. You can can qualify an argument or write a counterargument thesis, but you must assert a clear position.

Next, you have two choices: determine your main ideas or determine your evidence. Your approach may vary depending on the prompt.

If you have an idea of your main points, go ahead and write a bullet point of the claims you want to make for each body paragraph. For a timed AP ® Lang argument essay, you’ll likely have 2, possibly 3, body paragraphs. Think of your main ideas as “sub claims,” meaning that these claims should relate to your thesis. As you’re writing your main ideas, be sure to think about the best order for them.

refutation essay outline

If you choose your main ideas first, you’ll then need to brainstorm specific evidence to prove your claim. For more information about selecting specific evidence, check out this video.

Choose a Mnemonic

Some students prefer to outline their evidence first. To do this, try using an acronym such as CHORES. CHORES stands for current events, history, outside knowledge, reading, experiences, and science. Outside knowledge is a “catch-all” category for topics like sports, pop culture, music, etc.

There are other acronyms to help you plan specific evidence, such as REHUGO or CHELPS. Honestly, it does really matter which acronym you use as long as it helps you generate ideas for specific evidence.

A tip that has really helped my students is to label the evidence they’ve brainstormed with an S for specific, SS for somewhat specific, and G for general. For a timed essay, you can cross out any evidence that you only have a general understanding of, as we want to prioritize specific evidence in our essays.

Develop Your Line of Reasoning

Once you’ve narrowed down your list to your top examples, think about how you might pair your examples together. While you don’t need two examples per paragraph, oftentimes, having two examples helps you develop your ideas and create a stronger line of reasoning. Think about how the examples are related. For example, are they historical examples? Sports examples? Do they have similar or contrasting outcomes?

You’ll also need to consider which evidence should come first in the paragraph and which evidence should come second. Remember that you’ll want commentary after each example, and you’ll want to use a transition word to lead into your next example.

Speaking of order, think about the order of your main ideas. Which one should be your first body paragraph? Which one should be your second body paragraph?

It might sound simple, but creating a strong topic sentence to lead into your second paragraph can help your line of reasoning. For more information about a line of reasoning, check out this video here.

Here are a couple sentence frames to consider for body paragraph 2:

  • Having already established that (main idea 1,) one must also acknowledge that (main idea 2.)
  • The topic of X is not limited to (main idea 1), however, as it also applies to (main idea 2.)

Argument Essay Outline Example

Here’s an example argumentative essay outline for a timed essay to help you know what you might include. Remember that depending on how much time you have, you may decide to include more detail. However, for a timed essay, it’s often best to keep your argument essay outline simple so that you have more time to write. In this case, the goal is a simple outline to make sure you have some direction as you begin writing.

Thesis:  Struggle is valuable because it leads to progress.

Main Idea 1:  Women’s Suffrage

Evidence:  Emmeline Pankhurst and Susan B. Anthony

Commentary: For them, the struggle was worth the hardship. Their struggles ultimately led to progress, as women in the US gained suffrage in 1920, demonstrating that struggle is valuable when fighting for equality.

Main Idea 2:  Sports

Evidence:  Billie Jean King and the US Women’s National Soccer Team

Commentary:  These examples demonstrate the value of standing up for one’s beliefs, even if it means enduring public criticism.

Do I Need a Counterclaim and Rebuttal?

If you intend to include a counterclaim and rebuttal or concession and refutation in your essay, then yes, add it to your argument essay outline.

For AP ® Lang, remember that while addressing the counterargument can help create a more nuanced argument, including one is not required, nor does it guarantee the sophistication point.

Given that the goal is to fully develop your claim, many students prefer to address the counterargument at the end of their argument essay. That way, if they run out of time, they still have proven their other sub-claims.

For more information about addressing the counterargument, check out this video.

Additional Resources

Teachers, if you’re looking for a way to help your students create an argument essay outline, check out this Outline Argument Essay resource. These Google Slides compatible digital flipbooks are a quick-and-easy way for students to plan their specific evidence and outline their argument.

AP® Lang Teachers

Looking to help your students improve their rhetorical analysis essays?

[…] While the argument essay thesis is an important part of your essay and an easy point to earn on the AP Lang exam, the thesis is just the beginning. For more tips about outlining an argument essay, check out this blog post. […]

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refutation essay outline

Debate is naturally adversarial. While the main objective is to thoroughly convince the audience of your perspective, the other major objective is to try to disprove your opponent’s stance. There are multiple ways you can do this, but the goal in a debate is to refute the opposing argument.Fig. 1 - Refutation is the ultimate response to an opposing argument in…

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Debate is naturally adversarial. While the main objective is to thoroughly convince the audience of your perspective, the other major objective is to try to disprove your opponent’s stance. There are multiple ways you can do this, but the goal in a debate is to refute the opposing argument.

Refutations, Opposing faces with brains outlined, StudySmarter

Refutation Definition

To refute something is to give evidence that proves it is untrue or impossible. A refutation is the act of definitively proving something wrong.

Refutation vs. Rebuttal

Although they’re often used interchangeably, refutation and rebuttal do not mean the same thing.

A rebuttal is a response to an argument that tries to prove it untrue by offering a different, logical perspective.

A refutation is a response to an argument that decisively demonstrates that the opposing argument cannot be true.

Neither of these terms should be confused with the made-up word “refudiate,” which has come to loosely mean to deny or refuse something. Although this word entered the public lexicon in 2010 after a US politician used it to argue their point, it’s not preferable for academic writing.

The difference between a refutation and rebuttal hinges on whether the opposite argument can be conclusively disproved. To do so, you must provide factual evidence of its inaccuracy; otherwise, it isn’t a refutation, it’s a rebuttal.

Refutation Examples

There are three specific ways to successfully refute an argument: through evidence, logic, or minimization.

Refutation Through Evidence

A good argument stands on evidence, whether that’s statistical data, quotes from an expert, firsthand experiences, or any objective findings of a topic. Just as an argument can be built up by evidence that supports it, an argument can be destroyed by evidence that disproves it.

Evidence can refute an argument by:

Definitively supporting the accuracy or truth of the opposing argument when it is an either-or discussion (i.e., argument A and argument B cannot both be true).

Some people argue that remote education is just as good as in-person instruction, but numerous studies have linked a rise in behavioral issues to young students in remote learning situations. Unless we argue that a child’s well-being is irrelevant, remote education is not “just as good as” in-person schooling.

Definitively disproving the truth of the argument with more recent or more accurate evidence.

In one of the courtroom scenes in To Kill a Mockingbird (1960) by Harper Lee, Atticus Finch uses evidence to refute the possibility of Tom Robinson’s being able to beat Mayella Ewell:

…[T]here is circumstantial evidence to indicate that Mayella Ewell was beaten savagely by someone who led most exclusively with his left. We do know in part what Mr. Ewell did: he did what any God-fearing, preserving, respectable white man would do under circumstances—he swore a warrant, no doubt signing with his left hand, and Tom Robinson now sits before you, having taken the oath with the only good hand he possesses—his right hand. (Chapter 20)

This evidence essentially makes it impossible for Tom Robinson to have been the attacker because he cannot use the hand that is known to have beaten Mayella. In a fair trial, this evidence would have been monumental, but Atticus knows there is emotional and illogical prejudice facing Tom because of his race.

Refutation Through Logic

In a refutation through logic, an argument can be discredited because of a flaw in logic, which is called a logical fallacy .

A logical fallacy is the use of flawed or incorrect reasoning to construct an argument . Because many arguments find their basis in a logical structure, a logical fallacy essentially refutes the argument unless it can be proven by another means.

Suppose someone makes the following argument:

“Books always have more information about what the characters are thinking than movies. The best stories are those that offer lots of insight into what the characters are experiencing. Therefore, books will always be better at storytelling than movies.”

There is a logical fallacy in this argument, and can be refuted like this:

The premise—that the best stories are those that include the character’s thoughts—is not logically solid because there are many acclaimed stories that do not include the characters’ thoughts at all. Take, for example, the film The Sound of Music (1965) ; there is no internal narrative coming from the characters, and yet this is a beloved story and classic movie.

As a result of the logical fallacy, the conclusion—that books are better at telling stories than movies—can be refuted unless the arguer presents a more logically sound argument. When the premise does not support the conclusion, this is called a non-sequitur, which is a type of logical fallacy.

Refutation Through Minimization

Refutation by minimization occurs when the writer or speaker points out that the opposing argument is not as central to the issue as their opponent thought. This might be because it is a more peripheral, or less-important concern.

Refutations, Hot air balloon looks small from far away, StudySmarter

This type of refutation is effective because it essentially proves that the opposing argument is not relevant to the discussion and can be dismissed.

Consider the following argument:

“Only women can write characters in the opposite gender with any depth, because for centuries they have been reading books written by men, and therefore have more insight into the opposite sex.”

This argument can easily be refuted by minimizing the pivotal premise (i.e., writers have a difficult time writing characters of the opposite gender).

The assumption that a writer must share the same gender as their characters to have the insight to fully develop their personality is a mistake. There are countless examples of beloved characters written by members of the opposite gender to suggest otherwise; Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy ( Anna Karenina (1878)) , Victor Frankenstein by Mary Shelley ( Frankenstein (1818)), and Beatrice by William Shakespeare ( Much Ado About Nothing (1623)), to name just a few.

Concession and Refutation

It might seem counterintuitive to mention the opposing viewpoints in your argument, but a concession can really help convince an audience to agree with you. By including a concession with your argument, you illustrate that you have a solid understanding of the entire scope of your topic. You show yourself to be a well-rounded thinker, which helps eliminate concerns of a bias.

Concession is a rhetorical device where the speaker or writer addresses a claim made by their opponent, either to acknowledge its validity or to offer a counterargument to that claim.

If someone presents not only a solid argument in their favor, but also a concession of the opposing side(s), then their argument is that much stronger. If that same person can also refute the opposing argument, then that’s essentially a checkmate to the opponent.

Four basic steps to refutation can be remembered with the four S's:

Signal : Identify the claim you are answering ( “They say…” )

State : Make your counterargument ( “But…” )

Support : Offer support for your claim ( evidence , statistics, details, etc.) ( “Because…” )

Summarize : Explain the importance of your argument ( “Therefore…” )

Refutation in Writing Argumentative Essays

To write an effective argumentative essay , you must include a thorough discussion of the issue—especially if you want your reader to believe that you understand the discussion at hand. This means you must always address the opposing viewpoint(s) by writing a concession. A concession to the opposition builds your credibility, but you shouldn’t stop there.

Argumentative essays contain the following key elements:

A debatable thesis statement , which outlines the main argument and some evidence to support it.

An argument, which breaks down the thesis into individual parts to support it with evidence , reasoning, data, or statistics.

  • A counterargument, which explains the opposing viewpoint.
  • A concession, which explains the way(s) in which the opposing view could contain some truth.
  • A rebuttal or refutation, which gives reasons why the opposing viewpoint is not as strong as the original argument.

If you intend to provide a refutation of the counterargument, then a thorough concession is not especially necessary or effective.

When you refute an argument, the audience will essentially have to agree that that argument is no longer valid. That doesn’t necessarily mean that your argument is the only option left, though, so you must continue to provide support for your argument.

Refutation Paragraph

You can place the refutation anywhere in the body of your essay. A few common places are:

In the introduction, before your thesis statement .

In the section right after your introduction in which you explain a common position on the subject that needs to be re-examined.

Within another body paragraph as a way to address smaller counterarguments that arise.

In the section right before your conclusion in which you address any potential responses to your argument.

When you’re presenting a refutation, use words like, “however” and “although” to transition from acknowledging the opposition (the concession) to introducing your refutation.

Many people believe X. However, it is important to remember…

Although the common perception is X, there is evidence to suggest…

Part of writing an impactful refutation is keeping a respectful tone when discussing any counterarguments. This means avoiding harsh or excessively negative language when discussing the opposition, and keeping your language neutral as you transition from the concession to your refutation.

Refutations - Key Takeaways

  • Refutation is the act of definitively proving something wrong.
  • The difference between a refutation and rebuttal hinges on whether the opposite argument can be conclusively disproved.
  • There are three specific ways to successfully refute an argument, and they are through evidence, logic, and minimization.
  • A good argument will include a concession, which is where the speaker or writer acknowledges the opposing argument.
  • In an argument, the concession is followed by a refutation (if possible).

Frequently Asked Questions about Refutation

--> what is a refutation in writing.

Refutation in writing is the action of definitively proving something wrong.

--> How do I write a refutation paragraph?

Write a refutation paragraph with the four S’s: Signal, state, support, summarize. Begin by signaling the opposing argument, then state your counterargument. Next, offer support for your stance, and finally, summarize by explaining the importance of your argument.

--> What are types of refutations?

There are three types of refutations: refutation by evidence, refutation by logic, and refutation by minimization.

--> Are concession and refutation counterclaims?

A refutation is a counterclaim because it makes a claim about the initial counterargument presented by your opponent. A concession is not a counterclaim, it is merely a recognition of the counterarguments to your argument.

--> What is refutation through logic and evidence?

Refutation through logic is the refutation or discredit of an argument by way of identifying a logical fallacy in an argument. Refutation through evidence is discrediting an argument by offering evidence that proves the claim is impossible.

Final Refutation Quiz

Refutation quiz - teste dein wissen.

What does “refutation” mean?

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Refutation is the action of definitively proving something wrong.

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True or false: Refutation and rebuttal are the same thing.

_______ is  a response to an argument that tries to prove it untrue by offering a different, logical perspective. 

A __________ is a response to an argument that decisively demonstrates that the opposing argument cannot be true. 

What is the key difference between a rebuttal and a refutation?

The difference between a refutation and a rebuttal hinges on whether the opposite argument can be conclusively disproved.

The three types of refutation are:

Refutation through evidence

Refutation through minimization

Refutation through _______

An argument can be discredited because of a flaw in logic, which is called what?

Logical fallacy

Refutation by _________ occurs when the writer or speaker points out that the opposing argument is not as central to the issue as their opponent thought.


The four basic steps of refutation are: 

4. Summarize

Which step in the process of refutation identifies the claim you are answering ("They say...")?

Which step in the process of refutation explains the importance of your argument ("Therefore...)?

Which key element of an argumentative essay is missing?

  • An argument, which breaks down the thesis into individual parts to support it with evidence, reasoning, data, or statistics.

A debatable thesis statement, which outlines the main argument and some evidence to support it.

True or false: If you intend to provide a refutation of the counterargument, then a thorough concession is not especially necessary or effective?

Where are the four common places to put a refutation paragraph in an argumentative essay?

In the introduction, before your thesis statement

In the section right after your introduction in which you explain the common position on the subject that needs to be re-examined

Within another body paragraph as a way to address smaller counterarguments that arise

In the section right before your conclusion in which you address any potential responses to your argument

Why include a concession?

A concession gives you the opportunity to offer a refutation. It also proves that you're a well-rounded thinker, and not biased on the subject.

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