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Handling Different Points of View

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Handling Differing or Opposing
Points of View in your Essay
Some Assumptions
Your readers are skeptical—that is, they are hard
to convince, and they demand that you explain
your ideas logically and with lots of detail.
Your readers are oppositional—that is, they hold
an opinion on the subject very different, maybe
opposite, of yours.
Your readers will not take your argument seriously
if you do not give them reasons to see their own
arguments as weaker or less desirable than yours.
Handling the Opposition: How to do it
• Begin by anticipating how readers are likely to react to your
claim and reasons. This requires you to have enough knowledge
of your audience and its values and beliefs to be able to think
like them.
• In your essay, ACKNOWLEDGE your opposition’s argument.
Explain what they believe and their rationale. This will, if
nothing else, convince them you are thoughtful and honest and
will prevent them from simply dismissing your argument.
• If you can, ACCOMMODATE this differing point of view into
your argument. This increases your credibility.
• REFUTE the opposing point of view by showing where it is
inaccurate, illogical, impractical, or contrary to shared values
and beliefs.
Proponents [of school vouchers] often argue that vouchers enable
parents to have more choice about where their children attend
school and how they are educated. Certainly no one on either side
of the issue would argue that parents should have that choice. It
has been upheld in court rulings and is supported by numerous
laws. However, if a parent wishes to take the education of their
child into their own hands, either through home schooling or
through private schools, the burden is then on them to arrange for
such school and to pay any costs incurred. As is echoed by many
of the opponents of voucher programs, public money must go to
public schools, which are a necessary public accommodation.
Private money must be used for private and parochial schools.
Another point put forth by proponents is that of competition
between schools. They believe that competition between private
schools and public schools will improve not only the private
schools but also the public schools with which they compete.
This argument yields two concerns, however. First, people should
consider the problems that arose from many trade schools
opening for the purpose of collecting money from government
grants. A large number of such schools simply enrolled students
to be eligible for grant money and provided only a limited
education. Of course, this scenario doesn't parallel that of a
school voucher program, but it demonstrates the real problem of
schools being created simply for the purpose of collecting
voucher money. Slightly similar in concept is the other concern
regarding this "free-market" argument: Do we really want schools
that are supposed to educate the children of this country
competing for money and therefore students?
Handling the opposition: where
to do it
• No one place.
• If your claim is extremely controversial or will produce
lots of initial resistance, handle opposing arguments early.
• If your supporting reasons will raise strong objections,
handle the opposition after each supporting reason.
• If neither of the first two apply, handle the opposition after
all the support has been offered.
Handling the Opposition: Some Guidelines
• Be forceful and straightforward but respectful.
• Pay careful attention to contradictions between
your oppositions objections and their own values.
Showing inconsistencies between their stated
values and their positions is an effective way to
undermine their arguments.
• Explain your refutation in lots of detail.
Remember, you have a skeptical audience that
doesn’t want to let go of its comfortable thinking.
Handling Differing Points of View: Practice
Opposing Argument #1: The US invasion of Iraq in March of
2003 has made Americans safer.
Opposing Argument #2: The US invasion of Iraq in March of
2003 has put Americans in greater danger.
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