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25 Counterargument Examples

counterargument examples and definition, explained below

A counterargument is a response, rebuttal, or refutation of an argument with your own argument. Its purpose is to oppose and disprove a theory that someone else has put forward.

We use counterarguments extensively in debates as well as argumentative essay writing.

When teaching essay writing, I teach my students to always present counterarguments to their opponents’ points of view. This helps them to strengthen their own argument and demonstrate awareness of potential rebuttals.

Below are some methods, with examples, that could be used – be it in essay writing, debates, or any other communication genre.

Counterargument Examples

1. empirical challenges.

An empirical challenge is, simply, a rebuttal that challenges the facts presented by the opponent, showing that their facts are wrong and yours are right.

To undermine your opponent’s set of facts, it will be your job to present facts that show that the opponent’s supposed facts are wrong, perhaps due to misreading data or cherry-picking.

Then, you would need to present concrete information, data, or evidence that negates the claim or conclusion of an opponent’s argument.

The core strength of empirical challenges is in their reliance on hard facts and numbers, which are difficult to refute without equally credible opposing data.

Example of Empirical Challenge: If your opponent argues that global warming isn’t a serious issue, an empirical challenge would be to provide scientific data or research studies showing the increase in global temperatures and the harmful effects.

See Also: Empirical Evidence Examples

2. Challenging the Relevance

Challenging the relevance means questioning whether your opponent’s argument or perspective is applicable to the discussion at hand.

This sort of counter-argument seeks to destabilize your opponent’s view by showing that, while their facts or arguments might be sound in isolation, they do not bear any relation to, or are unfit for, the topic at hand, making them irrelevant.

The power of relevance challenge lays in its ability to destabilize your opponent’s argument without needing to directly dispute the truth of their claims.

Example of Challenging the Relevance: You will often find this argument when comparing the usefulness of various research methodologies for a research project. Multiple research methods may be valid, but there’s likely one that’s best for any given study.

See Also: Relevance Examples

3. Reductio ad absurdum

Reductio ad absurdum is a latin term that means reducing to the absurd . This method involves demonstrating the absurdity of an opponent’s argument by showing its illogical or extreme consequences.

The goal is to show that if the argument were valid, it would inevitably lead to senseless or ridiculous outcomes.

The application of reductio ad absurdum is especially effective in debates or discussions where flawed logic or hyperbolic statements are used to influence the audience’s opinion, as it discredits the credibility of the other person’s argument.

Example of Reductio ad absurdum : Consider a scenario where someone argues for the total removal of all regulations on vehicle speed to improve the efficiency of transportation. You can counter this argument through reductio ad absurdum by stating, “By that logic, let’s allow cars to travel at 200 miles per hour down residential streets. After all, it would make the mail delivery much faster!” It becomes evident that permitting extremely high speeds could lead to dangerous conditions and potential for disastrous accidents.

4. Pointing Out Logical Fallacies

The strategy of pointing out logical fallacies involves identifying and highlighting flaws in your opponent’s reasoning.

In a debate or discussion, logical fallacies are often subtle errors that lead to invalid conclusions or arguments.

By identifying these fallacies, you avoid being swayed by flawed reasoning and instead promote cognizant, logical thought.

Successful use of this strategy requires a good understanding of the different kinds of logical fallacies , such as straw man fallacies, ad hominem attacks, and appeals to ignorance.

Example of Pointing Out Logical Fallacies: Consider an argument where your opponent asserts, “All cats I’ve ever seen have been aloof, so all cats must be aloof.” This is a hasty generalization fallacy, where a conclusion about all members of a group is drawn from inadequate sample size.

5. Counterexamples

A counterexample is an example that opposes or contradicts an argument or theory proposed by another.

The use of a counterexample is a practical and powerful means of rebutting an argument or theory that has been presented as absolute or universally applicable.

When you provide a singular example that contradicts your opponent’s proposed theory, it demonstrates the theory isn’t universally true and therefore, weakens their argument.

However, this tactic requires sound knowledge and a good command of subject matter to be able to identify and present valid exceptions.

Example of Counterexamples: Consider an argument where someone states that “Mammals can’t lay eggs.” A solid counterexample would be the platypus, a mammal that does lay eggs. This single example is sufficient to contradict the universal claim.

6. Using Hypotheticals

Hypothetical situations, in essence, are imagined scenarios used to refute your opponent’s point of view. It’s, in essence, an example that is plausible, but not real.

Using hypotheticals assists in clarifying the ramifications of a particular argument, policy, or theory. When a hypothetical scenario effectively illustrates the flaws or shortcomings of your opponent’s viewpoint, it can completely unsettle their position.

However, care must be taken to frame the hypotheticals reasonably and realistically, lest they distort the argument or derail the conversation.

Example of Using Hypotheticals: If someone argues that raising the minimum wage will lead to job loss, you could counter with a hypothetical that if businesses paid their employees more, those employees would have more spending power, bolstering the economy and creating more jobs.

7. Comparison and Contrast

Comparison and contrast entails directly comparing your argument to your opponent’s, showing the strength of your perspective and the weakness of the opponent’s.

This tool allows you to support your arguments or disprove your opponent’s by using existing examples or situations that illustrate your point clearly.

The technique relies heavily on the logical thinking of comparing two or more entities in a manner that is informative, convincing, and significant to the argument.

Example of Comparison and Contrast: Let’s say, for instance, you are arguing against privatization of public utilities. You could compare the rates and services of private utilities to those of public ones showing that private companies often charge more for the same services, thereby supporting your argument against privatization.

See More: Compare and Contrast Examples

8. Challenging Biases

Challenging biases involves questioning the objectivity of your opponent’s argument by pointing out the predispositions that may influence their perspective.

Biases can greatly affect the validity and reliability of an argument because they can skew the interpretation of information and hinder fair judgement.

By challenging biases, you can expose the partiality in your opponent’s argument, thereby diminishing its credibility and persuasiveness.

However, it’s important to respectfully and tactfully challenge biases to prevent the discussion from turning into a personal attack.

Example of Challenging Biases: If your opponent is a staunch supporter of a political party and they provide an argument that solely favors this party, you could challenge their bias by questioning whether their support for the party is unduly influencing their viewpoint, hence the need for them to consider the opposing perspectives.

See More: List of Different Biases

9. Ethical Dispute

Ethical disputes involve challenging your opponent’s argument based on moral values or principles.

Ethics play a crucial role in shaping people’s beliefs, attitudes, and actions. Therefore, ethical disputes can serve as powerful counterarguments, especially in debates concerning sensitive or controversial topics.

If your opponent’s position contradicts generally accepted ethical norms or values, you can point this out to weaken their argument.

Just remember, ethics can occasionally be subjective and personal, so it’s important to approach ethical disputes with sensitivity and respect.

Example of Ethical Dispute: If your opponent supports factory farming based on economic benefits, you could challenge their argument by pointing out the ethical issues related to animal welfare and the environment.

10. Challenging the Source

Challenging the source is a tactic used to question the credibility or reliability of the information used by your opponent in their argument.

This technique focuses on examining the origin of the evidence presented, probing whether the source is credible, trusted, and free from bias.

To do this, I recommend using this media literacy framework .

If the source used by your opponent is flawed, biased or unreliable, their argument loses credibility, making your position stronger.

Example of Challenging the Source: If your opponent uses an obscure blog as their primary source of their argument on a scientific topic, you could challenge the source by questioning its credibility and offering information from reputable scientific journals instead.

See More: Good Sources for Essay Writing

A Full List of Methods for Counterargument

  • Empirical challenges
  • Challenging the relevance
  • Reductio ad absurdum
  • Pointing out logical fallacies
  • Counterexamples
  • Using hypotheticals
  • Comparison and contrast
  • Challenging biases
  • Ethical dispute
  • Challenging the source
  • Questioning assumptions
  • Slippery slope argument
  • Challenging a false dichtomy
  • Historical Precedent
  • Anecdotal Evidence
  • Challenging the Definition
  • Socratic Questioning
  • Highlighting Unintended Consequences
  • Appeal to Emotion
  • Challenging the Frame
  • Highlighting Inconsistencies
  • Challenging Completeness
  • Temporal Challenge
  • Offering alternative explanations
  • Exposing oversimplifications
  • Appeal to authority

Counterargument is an essential skill for debaters and essay writers. You need to be able to know and understand strategies for countering the arguments of your opponents to position your argument in the best light possible. To do this, we have to vectors of attack: First, you can undermine their arguments and demonstrate the flaws. Second, you can present your argument as stronger.

The key, however, is to ensure your arguments are as airtight and foolproof as possible to prevent effective rebuttals to your own counterarguments!

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Chris Drew (PhD)

Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]

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Counterarguments

A counterargument involves acknowledging standpoints that go against your argument and then re-affirming your argument. This is typically done by stating the opposing side’s argument, and then ultimately presenting your argument as the most logical solution. The counterargument is a standard academic move that is used in argumentative essays because it shows the reader that you are capable of understanding and respecting multiple sides of an argument.

Counterargument in two steps

Respectfully acknowledge evidence or standpoints that differ from your argument.

Refute the stance of opposing arguments, typically utilizing words like “although” or “however.”

In the refutation, you want to show the reader why your position is more correct than the opposing idea.

Where to put a counterargument

Can be placed within the introductory paragraph to create a contrast for the thesis statement.

May consist of a whole paragraph that acknowledges the opposing view and then refutes it.

  • Can be one sentence acknowledgements of other opinions followed by a refutation.

Why use a counterargument?

Some students worry that using a counterargument will take away from their overall argument, but a counterargument may make an essay more persuasive because it shows that the writer has considered multiple sides of the issue. Barnet and Bedau (2005) propose that critical thinking is enhanced through imagining both sides of an argument. Ultimately, an argument is strengthened through a counterargument.

Examples of the counterargument structure

  • Argument against smoking on campus:  Admittedly, many students would like to smoke on campus. Some people may rightly argue that if smoking on campus is not illegal, then it should be permitted; however, second-hand smoke may cause harm to those who have health issues like asthma, possibly putting them at risk.
  • Argument against animal testing:  Some people argue that using animals as test subjects for health products is justifiable. To be fair, animal testing has been used in the past to aid the development of several vaccines, such as small pox and rabies. However, animal testing for beauty products causes unneeded pain to animals. There are alternatives to animal testing. Instead of using animals, it is possible to use human volunteers. Additionally, Carl Westmoreland (2006) suggests that alternative methods to animal research are being developed; for example, researchers are able to use skin constructed from cells to test cosmetics. If alternatives to animal testing exist, then the practice causes unnecessary animal suffering and should not be used.

Harvey, G. (1999). Counterargument. Retrieved from writingcenter.fas.harvard.edu/pages/counter- argument

Westmoreland, C. (2006; 2007). “Alternative Tests and the 7th Amendment to the Cosmetics Directive.” Hester, R. E., & Harrison, R. M. (Ed.) Alternatives to animal testing (1st Ed.). Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry.

Barnet, S., Bedau, H. (Eds.). (2006). Critical thinking, reading, and writing . Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

Contributor: Nathan Lachner

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All About Counterarguments

So, you’ve been assigned a paper about counterarguments....

Or, maybe a paper that just requires you to think about the opposition to your argument. Never fear! Counter-arguments can help you to better understand your own argument. This type of assignment allows you the opportunity to think about the issue or problem as a whole rather than just your piece of the whole.

What is a counterargument?

A counterargument is an argument that goes against your thesis and that expresses the perspective of someone with an opposite point of view from your own. While it may seem that acknowledging your opponent’s argument would undermine your own argument, if done well, a counterargument actually fortifies your point. With a counterargument, you have an opportunity to acknowledge and respond to any objections from the opposition, giving you the advantage since the response comes from you. Usage of a counterargument also demonstrates that you’re a rational and fair arguer who is well-versed in your issue since you acknowledge both sides of the argument.

How to start:

First, start as early as possible. Part of utilizing a counterargument is in knowing your argument well, and knowing any subject well takes time.

To find your subject, think about what you’re interested in, but also something that you’re not necessarily emotionally, politically, or personally tied to. That way, you can consider both points in a fair and unbiased way, allowing for equal arguments for both sides of the issue, even though eventually you’ll only take one side of the issue. Start by looking up information about your topic.

Use online databases, looking up both sides of the issue. Remember to that the library has access to hundreds of online databases housing scholarly articles that you can access for free! The university pays for the resources, so be sure to take advantage of them.

Be open to what you find! Even if you initially take one side of the issue, you might find that your stance has changed. This is not necessarily a bad thing! Consider which side feels more compelling based on the research that you find.

How to present your counterargument:

It may be tempting to just write a sentence or two explaining your opponent’s argument and then spend paragraphs refuting that argument, but a good counter-argument is fair in the assessment of the opponent’s position.

Here are some tips:

Provide a few fair reasons why someone could possibly have the perspective of your opposition.

Communicate the counter-point objectively without bias. Look for any words that communicate feelings specific (especially negative) emotions or feelings concerning the argument. Those probably aren’t fair or unbiased. A reader can usually tell that you’re being unfair and might not want to continue reading.

Consider this: would the person who holds this opposite perspective be okay with your method of explaining their side of the issue? If not, then you’re probably not being fair.

How to actually write and implement a counter-argument:

Identify or explain opposing viewpoints. Use phrases like “on the other hand...” or “it is often perceived that...” or “critics may argue...” or “although...” or “some people may think” or (invoking the viewpoint of an expert/group) “according to...”

Summarize their stance in your own words.

Concede. Explain what aspects of your opponent’s argument have validity (but only if you really feel this way because if you don’t, the reader can tell).

Respond. Bring the reader back to your argument and its strengths. Refute your opponent’s argument by explaining how your point works better, is more logically sound, or makes more sense.

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How To Write A Counter Argument In An Essay

Steps of how to effectively design and write a counter argument.

Has your professor asked you to include a counterargument in your next assignment? Are you puzzled about where to start and what to write? If you wonder how to write a counter argument essay, worry not. Many students struggle to come up with the right standpoints in their papers, so we’ve decided to lend you a hand.

Expressing conflicting positions on a hot topic is a critical skill in the academic world. In short, you need a well-grounded contradicting stance with supporting facts to refute the opponent’s opinion. Keep reading to find out how.

What Is A Counterargument In An Essay – The Definition

Counter arguments should clear any doubts readers might have about your positions. Moreover, the purpose of an opposing argument is to offer a reason to disagree with the thesis statement. Whether you include it in the introduction or dedicate an entire paragraph to it, your counter argument shows that you’re aware that various views exist.

Addressing claims against your main standpoints makes you savvier, and your paper well-structured and substantiated. Since your  argument essay outline will urge your readers to agree with your claim, it’s advisable to mention a reason to believe differently.

Why Are Counterarguments Important

By incorporating a contradicting standpoint in your assignment, you demonstrate that:  

  •       You are knowledgeable about the topic and know how to back up your thoughts.
  •       You have researched the subject matter well and can tackle alternative views.
  •       You don’t underestimate opinions that clash with yours.
  •       You don’t stick to your perspectives blindly but are ready to discuss opposing ideas.
  •       You aren’t biased but have come to the ultimate standpoint through reasoning.
  •       You solidify your arguments and give them credibility.

How To Start A Counterargument

This segment will alert readers that a different stand from the thesis follows. So how to write a counterargument paragraph? The beginning of the denial section should explicitly or implicitly tell whoever’s reading to prepare for a contradiction. Omitting hints about the rebuttal in the paper will make it look one-sided and blunt.

So, how do you start the segment containing the counter argument? When you write your argumentative essay , ensure you include relevant starters and transitions. These may be a single word, a phrase, or an entire sentence supporting the overall statement.  

Counter Argument Starters

Let’s discuss the possible phrases you can use to introduce the counter argument. Here are a few starters that inform whoever’s reading to expect a change of direction:

  •       However, yet, but
  •       Even though/although
  •       In spite of/despite the fact that
  •       On the contrary
  •       On the other side/hand
  •       A possible concern/problem is
  •       Conversely, in contrast

Another approach that arouses interest is to use a rhetorical question. For instance, try the following starting phrases:

  •       Wouldn’t it be better if…?
  •       But, what if…?
  •       Nonetheless, how can this be true…?

Similarly, you may take an indirect stance and present the counterviews of others to express your opinion. For example, say this:

  •       However, scientists claim that
  •       Yet, many people believe that
  •       On the other hand, students stand for
  •       Critics say that

Transition Words

Choosing the right counter argument starter is just a part of the equation. A coherently written assignment requires you to use transitions that make the argument flow smooth. Even the best custom essay writing service will fail its purpose if it lacks linking phrases.

Coordinating transitions ease the reading process by linking ideas into a cohesive whole. These phrases show that two things are alike or that you add extra information along the same lines. Here are a few relevant examples:

  •       What is more
  •       Not to mention
  •       Likewise
  •       Then again
  •       On top of that
  •       Not only
  •       Additionally
  •       Furthermore

Why Include A Counterargument In An Argumentative Essay?

Including a counter argument in your essay will make your written piece more convincing. Though you may think this approach will weaken your position or undermine your claim, this isn’t true. On the contrary, by doing so, you respectfully acknowledge evidence or standpoints that differ from your argument.

Some students believe a counter argument will lead the readers away from the main claim. However, any top-notch argumentative essay writer service will include it because it demonstrates the issue was elaborated from multiple perspectives. Finally, you enhance critical thinking by presenting both sides of the problem.

Example Of Counter Argument Paragraph

Below, we share a relevant example of an argument on a specific topic with guidance on avoiding writing an irrelevant counter argument.

The argument:

Many students prefer to smoke on college campuses. They often argue that authorities can’t ban smoking on campus if it isn’t illegal.

Ineffective counter argument:

However, the college management is the ultimate decision-maker and can prohibit whatever they deem harmful on campus.

This counter argument is useless because even if the college management has the right to impose bans, it can’t disregard students’ requirements on all grounds.

So, how to write an argumentative essay with a relevant counter argument? Check the suggestion below.

Effective counter argument:

Yet, second-hand smoke can harm people in the vicinity that suffer from conditions like asthma, thus putting them at risk of health deterioration.

This example will achieve its primary purpose – discuss the other perspective openly. You may disagree with this view but demonstrate you’re aware that some people might take a different standpoint. And they have every right to because no issue is one-sided. In the second example, the reader can see how students smoking on campus might harm those around.

How To Respond To A Counterargument: The Refutation

Among other things, you must address the counterviews in your written piece with a rebuttal . Stating and refuting the contradicting idea is critical if you want to give credence to your standpoint . No matter how and where you incorporate the rebuttal, do it objectively by maintaining a formal and scholarly tone.

The best approach is to oppose the counter opinion logically by considering these questions:

  •       Will you discredit the different perspectives by bringing in contradictory research?
  •       Will you say that the other point is valid but that your argument is more relevant by means of comparison?

Responding to these questions and taking a specific route will refine your stance and clarify the issues considered. Moreover, if you suddenly agree with the counter opinion, revise your statement and main points to reflect your new thinking.

Common Mistakes And Fallacies To Avoid While Writing Opposing Arguments

Keep these things in mind when you write argumentative essays, and avoid them as much as possible:

  •       You haven’t done research on the multiple perspectives on the topic.
  •       You don’t include supporting ideas for the positions against your thesis.
  •       You dedicate too much space and attention to contradicting reasons.
  •       You don’t bring up a different perspective in the introduction but keep to your opinion only.
  •       Your line of thought is incoherent, and you constantly switch standpoints throughout the paper.
  •       You use offensive or biased language to refute the opponent’s viewpoint.
  •       You believe the opponent’s stance is wrong and don’t give it credit.
  •       Besides having a strong argument , you make the counterview weak and ineffective.
  •       You can’t explain how your position responds to the contradicting idea.
  •       If you aren’t a rhetoric expert, avoid using sarcasm and satire.

Bottom Line

When writing your work, you might decide to include a sentence or a whole segment that presents a denial statement. Whatever your choice, use a specific layout to express your views clearly and accurately. It is important to remember that for urgent essay writing , the need for incorporating counterargument examples is even more critical to ensure a well-substantiated and persuasive written piece. Therefore, it is essential to consider both sides of the argument when constructing your response.

Hopefully, this post helps you understand what is a counterargument and how to write a counterargument. Provided you follow the tips outlined above, it won’t take long to polish your work. If you have any concerns about your writing assignment, always ask your teacher for support.

Do Synthesis Essays Need A Counter Argument?

Yes, ensure you include a counter argument and oppose it to justify your viewpoint. It’s best to place it in the first body segment of your synthesis essay. By doing so, you show your capacity to appreciate different opinions than yours.

Does An Argumentative Essay Need A Counter Argument?

Yes, argumentative papers should contain a well-presented contradicting idea than the one expressed in the thesis. Taking a single standpoint doesn’t add value to your work because readers with a different opinion will see it as biased and unfair.

Where Does The Counterargument Go In An Essay?

One idea is to write it in the introduction to create a contrast for the main claim. Alternatively, you may explain the contradictory opinion in one section that acknowledges the idea and then discredit it. It is often better to place it before your opinion to end the paper on a positive note that supports your perspective.

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what is a counter argument in an essay example

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OASIS: Writing Center

Writing a paper: responding to counterarguments, basics of counterarguments.

When constructing an argument, it is important to consider any counterarguments a reader might make. Acknowledging the opposition shows that you are knowledgeable about the issue and are not simply ignoring other viewpoints. Addressing counterarguments also gives you an opportunity to clarify and strengthen your argument, helping to show how your argument is stronger than other arguments.

Incorporating counterarguments into your writing can seem counterintuitive at first, and some writers may be unsure how to do so. To help you incorporate counterarguments into your argument, we recommend following the steps: (a) identify, (b) investigate, (c) address, and (d) refine.

Identify the Counterarguments

First you need to identify counterarguments to your own argument. Ask yourself, based on your argument, what might someone who disagrees counter in response? You might also discover counterarguments while doing your research, as you find authors who may disagree with your argument.

For example, if you are researching the current opioid crisis in the United States, your argument might be: State governments should allocate part of the budget for addiction recovery centers in communities heavily impacted by the opioid crisis . A few counterarguments might be:

  • Recovery centers are not proven to significantly help people with addiction.
  • The state’s money should go to more pressing concerns such as...
  • Establishing and maintaining a recovery center is too costly.
  • Addicts are unworthy of assistance from the state. 

Investigate the Counterarguments

Analyze the counterarguments so that you can determine whether they are valid. This may require assessing the counterarguments with the research you already have or by identifying logical fallacies . You may also need to do additional research.

In the above list, the first three counterarguments can be researched. The fourth is a moral argument and therefore can only be addressed in a discussion of moral values, which is usually outside the realm of social science research. To investigate the first, you could do a search for research that studies the effectiveness of recovery centers. For the second, you could look at the top social issues in states around the country. Is the opioid crisis the main concern or are there others? For the third, you could look for public financial data from a recovery center or interview someone who works at one to get a sense of the costs involved. 

Address the Counterarguments

Address one or two counterarguments in a rebuttal. Now that you have researched the counterarguments, consider your response. In your essay, you will need to state and refute these opposing views to give more credence to your argument. No matter how you decide to incorporate the counterargument into your essay, be sure you do so with objectivity, maintaining a formal and scholarly tone . 

Considerations when writing:

  • Will you discredit the counteragument by bringing in contradictory research?
  • Will you concede that the point is valid but that your argument still stands as the better view? (For example, perhaps it is very costly to run a recovery center, but the societal benefits offset that financial cost.)
  • Placement . You can choose to place the counterargument toward the beginning of the essay, as a way to anticipate opposition, or you can place it toward the end of the essay, after you have solidly made the main points of your argument. You can also weave a counterargument into a body paragraph, as a way to quickly acknowledge opposition to a main point. Which placement is best depends on your argument, how you’ve organized your argument, and what placement you think is most effective.
  • Weight . After you have addressed the counterarguments, scan your essay as a whole. Are you spending too much time on them in comparison to your main points? Keep in mind that if you linger too long on the counterarguments, your reader might learn less about your argument and more about opposing viewpoints instead. 

Refine Your Argument

Considering counterarguments should help you refine your own argument, clarifying the relevant issues and your perspective. Furthermore, if you find yourself agreeing with the counterargument, you will need to revise your thesis statement and main points to reflect your new thinking. 

Templates for Responding to Counterarguments

There are many ways you can incorporate counterarguments, but remember that you shouldn’t just mention the counterargument—you need to respond to it as well. You can use these templates (adapted from Graff & Birkenstein, 2009) as a starting point for responding to counterarguments in your own writing.

  • The claim that _____ rests upon the questionable assumption that _____.
  • X may have been true in the past, but recent research has shown that ________.
  • By focusing on _____, X has overlooked the more significant problem of _____.
  • Although I agree with X up to a point, I cannot accept the overall conclusion that _____.
  • Though I concede that _____, I still insist that _____.
  • Whereas X has provided ample evidence that ____, Y and Z’s research on ____ and ____ convinces me that _____ instead.
  • Although I grant that _____, I still maintain that _____.
  • While it is true that ____, it does not necessarily follow that _____.

Graff, G., & Birkenstein, C. (2009). They say/I say: The moves that matter in academic writing (2 nd ed.). Norton.

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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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19 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!

Really very helpful. Thanks Regards Mayank

Thank you, professor, it is very helpful to write an essay.

It is really helpful thank you

It was a very helpful set of learning materials. I will follow it and use it in my essay writing. Thank you, professor. Regards Isha

Thanks Professor

This was really helpful as it lays the difference between argumentative essay and compare and contrast essay.. Thanks for the clarification.

This is such a helpful guide in composing an argumentative essay. Thank you, professor.

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Humanities LibreTexts

9.7.3: Counter Argument Paragraphs

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  • Page ID 20657

  • Athena Kashyap & Erika Dyquisto
  • City College of San Francisco via ASCCC Open Educational Resources Initiative

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Counter-Argument Paragraphs

The purpose of a counter argument is to consider (and show that you are considering) perspectives other than your own. A counter-argument tears down other viewpoints; it does not build up your own, which you should do in separate paragraphs.

Placement of Counter-Arguments in an Essay

A counter argument can appear anywhere in the essay, but it most commonly appears:

  • As part of your introduction—before you propose your thesis—where the existence of a different view is the motive for your essay. This works if your entire essay will be a counter-argument and you are not building up your own argument.
  • As a section or paragraph just after your introduction, in which you lay out the expected reaction or standard position of opposing viewpoints before turning away to develop your own.
  • As a quick move within a paragraph, where you imagine a counter-argument not to your main idea but to the sub-idea that the paragraph is arguing or is about to argue.
  • As a section or paragraph just before the conclusion of your essay, in which you imagine what someone might object to in what you have argued. (However, this is really too late to be very effective in persuading someone to your position. It only shows you are considering other points of view.

Watch that you don't overdo it. A turn into counter argument here and there will sharpen and energize your essay, but too many such turns will have the reverse effect by obscuring your main idea or suggesting that you're ambivalent about your point of view. At the worst, it can sound like you are contradicting yourself. Writing a lead-in sentence with subordination or concession can help avoid this problem.

Example Counter-Argument

The following paragraph explains an opposing point of view to the writer's position in almost the whole paragraph. Words in bold italics explain the essential component of a counter-argument that a writer is doing in the following sentence(s).

The next paragraph is the counter-argument to the previous paragraph. Notice, however, that this count-argument does have some problems. The writer doesn't distinguish between public and private charter schools and also creates some logical fallacies in the process. Counter-arguments should be logically solid, cite sources, and argue logically.

At this point, the writer would then begin to argue their point of view with sub-claims and facts developed in a number of paragraphs to support their thesis.

If a writer is constructing an entire essay as a counter-argument, then the writer will need to fully develop multiple, well-supported arguments against the other point of view. The writer may also want to point out any logical flaws or other errors in the argument that they oppose.

Contributors and Attributions

  • Revision, Adaptation, and Original Content. Provided by: Libretexts. License: CC BY-SA 4.0: Attribution.

This page most recently updated on June 6, 2020.

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4.5 Identifying Concessions and Counter Arguments

Learning objectives.

  • Identify the parts of a reasonable concession
  • Evaluate paragraphs for concessions
  • Apply concession format to a series of sentences

Let’s take some time to learn how to concede logical points and then to counter them appropriately. These skills are INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT. Oftentimes, only the strongest and most confident writers can write in a concession-style. Your use of concession-style thesis statements, and concessions throughout a response, signals to your readers that you are a confident and capable writer and critical thinker. Concessions are invaluable to DISCOURSE and DIALOGUE, the two most important parts of responsible argumentation.

The purpose behind this chapter and its activities is to teach you how to concede strong points, and more importantly, how to counter them effectively.  Students new to writing arguments often think that including concessions will weaken their argument or that a reader will be more likely to agree with them if they pretend that no weaknesses exist in the argument. This assumption is untrue. In fact, your willingness to admit where the prompt writer’s argument has value and either present an extension of that argument or move it in a different direction is really impressive.

What is more, you will be learning to grow comfortable in conceding that your own argument might have limitations. All arguments have limitations, whether they belong to a prompt writer or to you. Remember the final instruction given to you before all prompt responses?

Your essay should also consider at least one objection a reader might have to  your  argument. You may respond to this objection in different ways. For example, you may argue against the objection, or you may acknowledge that the objection is a good point and incorporate it into your argument. It’s up to you.

At a very basic level, the purpose behind learning counter-arguments is because the prompt instructions on each prompt ask you to do so.  The goal of that instruction is to teach you how to strengthen your argument.  Acknowledging weaker points (or strong points from your opposition) makes your writing more compelling because it demonstrates to your reader that 1) you have actually considered the topic without making snap judgments, and 2) you are not hiding the weaknesses of your argument from your reader, hoping that they will miss them.

More importantly, it creates an honest relationship between you and your reader, which is essential because some audiences will know something about the topic of your argument already, and they could have oppositions to offer.  Ultimately, you need to learn how to concede and counter in writing because you cannot respond to a reader’s objections verbally, as you might in a conversation.  The greater challenge is to anticipate the objections and respond to them before they come up. This strategy is akin to an artist writing a diss track in which they not only identify faults in their rival, but also in themselves. What ammunition is left for their rival in response? When you “anticipate and defend,” there is little left for the opposition. It is a proven strategy.

To begin the process, we need to understand how to make reasonable concessions first.  It’s likely that you may have already learned how to make one of these two types of concessions early in your WRIT course, but let’s look over them again.

First, read the following prompt below.  You can also Download a PDF version , if you prefer.

Drink Your Way to Success Randolph Hennepin

The following editorial appeared in the May/June 2014 issue of Today’s Student

     Success in just about any profession often depends on a person’s ability to network, and to develop contacts. A prime way to network is over drinks. In fact, a person who does not drink is less likely to be successful than one who does . Students who spend time drinking rather than studying are ensuring their eventual success.

     Facts are facts. A recent study “found drinkers earn between 10 and 14 per cent more than non-drinkers.” Further, according to the same study, men who go to a bar at least once a month earn an additional 7 per cent. The reason for the success of drinkers, according to the author of the study, is that “Social drinking builds social capital. Social drinkers are networking, building relationships and adding contacts to their [phones] that result in bigger paycheques.”

     Perhaps this study is not good news for people who do not drink. Perhaps these people feel that there are other ways to develop contacts, such as getting involved in charitable organizations or meeting colleagues for breakfast instead of in a bar after work. While these strategies do have merit, neither is as effective as the social networking that occurs while drinking.

     In fact, a reasonable conclusion from this study would be to encourage students to learn how to drink. Knowing how to drink without embarrassing oneself is a key skill in business, as the above study proves. Therefore, students should not feel guilty about spending evenings drinking instead of working or studying, since drinking will lead to their eventual success. Students should not focus on school other than to do well enough to pass; otherwise, they are doomed to earn less than their peers who put their study time to good use by hitting the bottle.

Now, look at these straightforward responses to the prompt and determine which one uses a  general concession,  and which one uses a  specific concession .

  • Introduction: Version 1
  • Introduction: Version 2

Activity 1: Identifying Concessions

Which introduction in the above example uses a more specific concession? Vote on your choice below and then view the results. Click  the accordion below to learn more.

The next section includes practice activities for concessions and counterarguments.

Putting the Pieces Together Copyright © 2020 by Andrew Stracuzzi and André Cormier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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In writing an argumentative essay, your goal is to persuade an audience that your claim is correct. You research, think about your topic deeply, and determine what information will support that argument . However, strong argumentation requires you to address opposing views. How will you incorporate them into your essay? How will you prove your argument is the better one? Identifying and addressing counterarguments will make your argumentative essays stronger. 

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In writing an argumentative essay, your goal is to persuade an audience that your claim is correct. You research, think about your topic deeply, and determine what information will support that argument . However, strong argumentation requires you to address opposing views. How will you incorporate them into your essay? How will you prove your argument is the better one? Identifying and addressing counterarguments will make your argumentative essays stronger.

Counterargument Meaning

A counterargument is a contrasting or opposing argument . Counterarguments are common in persuasive writing. In argumentation , you are trying to convince an audience of your claim. C laims are the writer's main ideas and position. In an argumentative essay, your goal is for the audience to believe your claim. To convince your audience that your claim is correct, you will need reasons –the evidence that supports your claim.

The counterargument is the opposing argument to the one you are writing about. You include counterarguments in your writing to form a rebuttal . A rebuttal is where you explain why your position is stronger than the counterargument. When incorporating counterarguments in your essay, you will need to know the counterargument's claims and reasons. For example, in an essay about whether teachers should assign homework, you take the position that teachers should not give homework. The counterargument is that teachers should assign homework.

To write about this counterargument, you will need to explain the claims and reasons why teachers should assign homework. You will refute these points and spend the rest of your essay explaining why teachers should not assign homework.

Counter Argument, Illustration of silhouettes of two men sitting and debating, StudySmarter

Counterargument Example

The example above demonstrates how a writer may present the counterargument to the claim that teachers should not assign homework.

While some researchers advocate for teachers' limiting homework, others find teachers should assign homework to reinforce content and skills learned in school. According to an analysis of multiple studies done examining the effects of homework on academic achievement by Cooper et al. (2006), homework for grades 7-12 positively affected students' educational outcomes, such as grades on unit tests and national exams. 1 Cooper et al. (2006) found consistency across studies that 1.5-2.5 hours per day of homework was the optimal amount for students to complete. Students gain practice and exposure to the material through this practice, which increases academic performance. Other research found that homework may not be as effective as Cooper et al. (2006) suggest. Galloway et al. (2013) argue that teachers assigning homework often do not follow these recommendations, negatively impacting students. 2

Based on survey results from Galloway et al. (2013), secondary students reported having an average of 3 hours of homework per night, an estimate higher than Cooper et al.'s (2006) recommendation. This amount of homework negatively impacted students since it increased mental stress and decreased time spent on socialization. This research shows that while assigning homework may benefit students, teachers do not follow best practices and instead harm students. Teachers should err on the side of not giving homework to prevent placing too much stress on students.

This paragraph addresses the counterargument: why teachers should assign homework. The first part of the paragraph addresses why teachers should assign homework and cites research on the optimal way teachers should assign it. The counterargument contains strong evidence and claims on why teachers should assign homework.

This evidence improves the essay because it strengthens the rebuttal. The writer needs to address the counterargument's convincing claims in the rebuttal, which makes the rebuttal and overall argument more persuasive. The second half of the paragraph is the rebuttal to this argument. It cites research on how teachers do not frequently use these best practices and harm students. The rebuttal also directly addresses the counterargument about these best practices.

Purpose of Counterarguments

There are several reasons why you may include counterarguments in your writing. First, counterarguments and rebuttals strengthen your overall argument. It seems counterintuitive, but your overall argument becomes stronger when you outline and address opposing views. By incorporating and rebutting opposing claims, you challenge the validity of the counterargument. If you can effectively address and rebuke your opposition, your argument will appear more credible to your audience than the counterargument.

Second, it will help you persuade your audience that your position is correct, especially if they are skeptical of your position. Arguments can be one-sided , which do not include counterarguments or opposing views, or multisided , which incorporate multiple views. One-sided arguments work best for an audience who already accepts your claims and reasoning. Because your audience already believes your idea, you do not have to spend time addressing opposing opinions.

In a multisided argument , you present counterarguments, include rebuttals, and argue why your position is stronger. This method works best for an audience with diverse opinions because you show you understand their beliefs while advocating for your position. Counterarguments help convince your audience that your position is correct. You acknowledge their beliefs while explaining why your position is better.

Counter Argument, Three candidates at a presidential debate, StudySmarter

Counterarguments in an Essay

In academic writing, you can incorporate several strategies for including counterarguments. Often, addressing the counterarguments is kept to one paragraph within the essay. This section outlines a common essay structure for incorporating counterarguments, how to write them, and strategies for creating your counterarguments.

Structuring an Argumentative Essay

Writers, all the way from antiquity, have thought about the best way to incorporate opposing viewpoints into their writing. Writers can choose several ways to structure an argumentative essay to have counterarguments. The most common method is the classical structure, which originated in Ancient Greece. There are four main parts to this structure.

Introduction

Memorable statement or information to gain readers' attention.

Present background information necessary to your argument.

State your primary claim or thesis .

Discuss how you will structure your overall argument by outlining your main claims and counterarguments.

Writer's position

The central part of your essay.

State your claim(s) and supporting evidence.

Incorporate hard evidence or other rhetorical appeals as reasons to help you support your claims.

Counterarguments

Outline alternative points of view in a non-biased manner.

Refute their claims by discussing negative aspects of the counterargument.

May concede to the positive aspects of the counterargument.

Explain why your view is preferable to others.

Summarize your primary claim or thesis .

Explain the importance of your argument based on background information.

Encourage the audience to act on this information.

Counter Argument, Painting of Socrates debating others, StudySmarter

Strategies for Addressing Counterarguments

Remember that arguments can be one-sided or multisided. If you are writing a multisided argument, you will need to know how to address counterarguments based on your audience's views. There are several strategies for addressing counterarguments and forming your rebuttals. The two major categories for these strategies include refutation and concession.

Refutation describes the process of showing how the counterargument contains logical fallacies or is not supported with evidence. Logical fallacies are errors in reasoning. You can point out these logical fallacies to discredit and weaken an argument. Refutation is a good strategy if you are trying to convince an audience who may be more sympathetic toward your viewpoint. There are several ways you can refute a counterargument.

  • Identify logical fallacies. When looking at a counterargument, take the time to break down its claims and reasons. You may discover logical fallacies in the counterargument, such as faulty reasoning or an overgeneralization. You can highlight these fallacies in your rebuttal and discuss why your argument is stronger.
  • Point out unstated assumptions made in the argument . In general, arguments often contain unstated assumptions. For example, suppose you are exploring the counterargument that teachers should assign homework to help students master academic material. In that case, there is the unstated assumption that students will have the time to complete assignments at home. You can address the flaws in these assumptions using evidence and facts. To discredit this assumption in your rebuttal, you would incorporate data on how students do not have the time to complete homework.
  • Find counterexamples or counter-evidence. The counterargument will incorporate data and evidence to support their claims. You will need to find evidence and data to support your rebuttal. You will want to use this evidence and data if it casts doubt on the counterargument's evidence.
  • Question the data used to support the counterargument. A uthors will cite data and statistics w hen making logical claims in an essay. You will want to analyze the author's use of this data to discover if they cited it correctly. If they misrepresented it, or it's outdated, you can point this out in your rebuttal and offer a better interpretation.
  • Show how the counterargument's experts or examples are flawed or not valid. Take the time to find out which sources the author uses. If you find out that a cited expert is not credible on the subject, or if an example is inaccurate, you can cast doubt on the counterargument by discussing the lack of credibility of an authority or an example. Cite stronger, more accurate evidence in your rebuttal.

Concession is the rebuttal strategy of admitting that an opposing argument is correct. However, you will show that your claims are stronger since it has better reasons to support them. For example, you may write an essay about why teachers should not assign homework. You would concede that the research on the homework is correct. However, you would present multiple pieces of evidence and explain how this research shows teachers should not support homework.

There are two reasons why you may want to include concessions in your writing. First, a concession is a good strategy if your audience is sympathetic to the counterargument. Because you acknowledge the strength of the counterargument, you will not alienate your audience. Second, a concession may strengthen your argument. Because you explain that the counterargument is strong, you can increase the strength of your overall argument by including more convincing evidence on why your position is correct.

Writing a Counterargument Paragraph

Often, counterarguments for papers in school are around a paragraph in length. To begin writing a counterargument, research the opposing views. You will need to do this research to understand the reasons and claims behind the opposing viewpoint. This research selects the opposing viewpoint's most substantial claims and reasons. Begin your counterargument paragraph by summarizing and explaining these claims. Your argument will be more persuasive if you can engage and address the counterargument's most compelling information.

After describing the opposing viewpoints, write the rebuttal in the second half of the paragraph. You will want to select one of the strategies above to address the counterargument. The counterargument you choose will depend on the audience and your goals. Remember, a skeptical audience may find concession more persuasive, while a neutral or supportive audience may support refutation. In the rebuttal, address the specific reasons and claims from the counterargument. You will want to use research to support your rebuttal.

Whether you place the counterargument or your main argument first depends on your goals. A counterargument rebutted using refutation is traditionally near the end of the essay after discussing your main points. After laying out your claims and evidence , you can use this information to form the evidence you will use to create your rebuttal against the counterargument. If you primarily want to use concessions , it will be better near the beginning of the paper after the introduction. Because your main points show how your argument is stronger, you will want to introduce the opposing viewpoint at the beginning.

Counter Argument - Key Takeaways

  • A counterargument is a contrasting or opposing argument. The counterargument is the opposite argument of the one you are writing about.
  • You include counterarguments in your writing to form a rebuttal . A rebuttal is where you explain why your position is stronger than the other.
  • Including counterarguments strengthens your argument by making it more credible and helps to convince your audience of your claims.
  • The classical argumentation structure is a common one to follow for incorporating counterarguments.
  • Two strategies for rebutting your counterargument include refutation and concession. Refutation describes the process of showing how the counterargument contains logical fallacies or is not supported with evidence. Concession is the strategy of admitting that an opposing argument is correct.
  • Harris Cooper, Jorgianne Civey Robinson, and Erika Patall, "Does Homework Improve Academic Achievement? A Synthesis of Research, 1987-2003," 2006.
  • Mollie Galloway, Jerusha Connor, and Denise Pope, "Nonacademic Effects of Homework in Privileged, High-Performing High Schools," 2013.

Frequently Asked Questions about Counter Argument

--> what's a counterargument.

A counterargument is a contrasting or opposing argument. Counterarguments are common in argumentative essays. The counterargument is the opposing argument to the one you are writing about. You include counterarguments in your writing to form a rebuttal . A rebuttal is where you explain why your position is stronger than the counterargument.

--> How should a counterargument be presented?

There are several strategies for addressing counterarguments and forming your rebuttals. The two major categories for these strategies include refutation and concession.  Refutation describes the process of showing how the counterargument contains logical fallacies or is not supported with evidence. Concession is the strategy of admitting that an opposing argument is correct.

--> How to start a counterargument paragraph?

To begin writing a counterargument, research the opposing views. You will need to do this research to understand the reasons and claims behind the opposing viewpoint. From this research, select the opposing viewpoint's strongest claims and reasons. Begin your counterargument paragraph summarizing and explaining these claims.

--> How to write a counterargument paragraph

Begin your counterargument paragraph by summarizing and explaining the claims. After describing the opposing viewpoints, write the rebuttal in the second half of the paragraph. The counterargument you choose will depend on the audience and your goals. A skeptical audience may find concession more persuasive, while a neutral or supportive audience may support refutation.

--> How does a counterargument strengthen your argument?

Your argument becomes stronger because you have to address your opposition's claims. If you can effectively address and rebuke your opposition's arguments, your argument will appear more credible to your audience. It will help you persuade your audience that your argument is correct, especially if they are skeptical of your position.

Test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards

A red herring is a(n) _____ used to divert an argument away from its resolution.

Is a red herring an informal or formal fallacy?

Although red herrings are irrelevant ideas, they are not _____. 

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Red herrings often share something in common with the _____, which adds to the deception.

Topic at hand

Red herrings frequently contain emphatic language and truisms, both of which are hard to ignore. True or false?

Red herrings rarely end in a question or turn, so as not to draw attention. True or false?

False. Red herrings also frequently end in a question or turn, in order to push the false line of reasoning. 

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21 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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The Study Blog : Tips

8 counter argument examples to help you write a strong essay.

By Evans Oct 26, 2020

A one-sided essay is like a beautiful dish with no flavor. Everyone looks at it, but nobody wants to partake of it. An essay presenting one side of a debate shows that you are not reasonable. Instead of persuading your readers, it ends up feeling like you’re just forcing an opinion on them. How do you change this? How do you make your essay interesting and persuasive? Counter argument! You heard me right. Using the counter argument is one of the best ways that you can strengthen your essay.

8 Counter argument examples to help you write a strong essay

Before we proceed further, what exactly is a counter-argument? An academic essay means that you need to come up with a thesis, a strong one at that, and even stronger points that support that particular thesis . You also need to come up with an argument that opposes your thesis. This is what we call a counter-argument. It is basically, an argument that is against your thesis.

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What is the purpose of a counter-argument?

When writing an essay, especially to persuade, you need to put yourself in the shoes of your readers. What are they likely to think about your thesis? How can they possibly argue against it? What questions might they have against the idea you are trying to sell to them? A counter-argument allows you to creatively and wisely respond to these questions. A counter-argument clears any doubts that your reader may have on your argument. It also shows them that you are the bigger person by actually addressing arguments against your thesis.

Counter argument examples

Let’s say your argument is about getting the patient to consent to it, rather than have the doctors decide on it.

A reader might argue: a patient may be too sickly to even consent for euthanasia.

Refutal: you can refute the counter-argument by proving that it is possible to get a patient in the right frame long enough to sign the consent form.

Overprotective parents

Argument: overprotective parents often treat their grown-up children like babies. As a result, these children grow to be very dependent on the parents and unable to make decisions on their own.

Counter-argument: parents have seen more than their children. Protecting them from the problems they encountered saves the children from getting hurt.

Refutal: Though parents think that shielding their grown children protects them from the dangerous world, they only end up protecting children from living. As a result, if such a child makes a mistake, it might be very hard for them to recover from it.

Getting a dog as a pet for young children

Argument: getting a dog as a pet for younger children is not a very good idea as children may not understand how to take care of the dog.

Counter-argument: having a pet teaches the children responsibility.

Rebuttal: While it is true that having a pet can teach kids how to become more responsible, the fact remains that taking care of a pet is a full-time job. A pet is not like a toy that you can discard when tired of it. Young kids may not have the stamina or the time to take care of a pet.

Exposure to technology

Argument: Technology provides children with an amazing learning experience. Children who have been exposed to technology learn pretty first how to deal and respond to different situations better than students who have no exposure to technology.

You may also like: How to write a technology essay: tips, topics, and examples

Counter argument: early exposure to entertainment and violence affects the cognitive skills of a child.

Rebuttal: Although some form of technology may affect the cognitive skills of a child, it doesn’t mean that children should be kept away from technology. There are learning programs that provide a better learning experience as compared to formal education. Doing away with technology is not the answer. The answer is controlling what children are exposed to.

Argument: taking part in elections is not only a right but a responsibility that every citizen should participate in.

Counter-argument: It is better not to vote than vote in a corrupt person.

Rebuttal: While you might feel like not taking part in the voting process keeps you from the guilt of choosing the wrong person, the truth is that you only give other people the right to choose for you. This means that if a corrupt person gets in, you’re still responsible for not voting for a better candidate.

Argument: Smoking should not be allowed on campuses.

Counter-argument: smoking is not illegal, especially to someone above 18 years old. Since it is not illegal, students should be allowed to smoke within the campus vicinity.

Rebuttal: indeed, smoking is not illegal. However, smoking on campus can prove to be fatal especially to students with health issues such as asthma. It is widely known that smoking affects not just the person holding the cigar but everyone else around them. Therefore, to keep students safe, smoking should not be allowed on campus.

Animal testing

Argument: animals should not be used as test subjects.

Counter-argument: animals happen to be the best test method for health products

Rebuttal: While it is true that over the years animals have been used as test subjects, it doesn’t change the fact that these tests often subject animals to excruciating pain. Research shows that there are better alternatives that can be used, thereby saving animals from unnecessary pain.

Cyberbullying

Argument: Cyberbullying is a serious issue and therefore it is very important to understand how to protect yourself from cyberbullies.

Counter-argument: the victims do not need to learn how to protect themselves and use the internet fearfully. The internet should be made secure for every user and all cyberbullying should be put to jail.

Rebuttal: nobody deserves to be afraid while using the internet. However, while it is a very good idea to have all cyberbullies jailed, that remains to be just a dream. This is because almost everyone can be a cyber-bully at one point or another. It, therefore, remains your responsibility to protect yourself and also learn how to handle cyberbullying.

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what is a counter argument in an essay example

Final thoughts

As the examples show, a good persuasive essay should contain your thesis statement , a counter-argument, and a rebuttal of the counter-argument. This makes your essay strong, very persuasive, and with a very good flavor.

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Purdue Online Writing Lab Purdue OWL® College of Liberal Arts

Organizing Your Argument

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This page summarizes three historical methods for argumentation, providing structural templates for each.

How can I effectively present my argument?

In order for your argument to be persuasive, it must use an organizational structure that the audience perceives as both logical and easy to parse. Three argumentative methods —the  Toulmin Method , Classical Method , and Rogerian Method — give guidance for how to organize the points in an argument.

Note that these are only three of the most popular models for organizing an argument. Alternatives exist. Be sure to consult your instructor and/or defer to your assignment’s directions if you’re unsure which to use (if any).

Toulmin Method

The  Toulmin Method  is a formula that allows writers to build a sturdy logical foundation for their arguments. First proposed by author Stephen Toulmin in  The Uses of Argument (1958), the Toulmin Method emphasizes building a thorough support structure for each of an argument's key claims.

The basic format for the Toulmin Method  is as follows:

Claim:  In this section, you explain your overall thesis on the subject. In other words, you make your main argument.

Data (Grounds):  You should use evidence to support the claim. In other words, provide the reader with facts that prove your argument is strong.

Warrant (Bridge):  In this section, you explain why or how your data supports the claim. As a result, the underlying assumption that you build your argument on is grounded in reason.

Backing (Foundation):  Here, you provide any additional logic or reasoning that may be necessary to support the warrant.

Counterclaim:  You should anticipate a counterclaim that negates the main points in your argument. Don't avoid arguments that oppose your own. Instead, become familiar with the opposing perspective.   If you respond to counterclaims, you appear unbiased (and, therefore, you earn the respect of your readers). You may even want to include several counterclaims to show that you have thoroughly researched the topic.

Rebuttal:  In this section, you incorporate your own evidence that disagrees with the counterclaim. It is essential to include a thorough warrant or bridge to strengthen your essay’s argument. If you present data to your audience without explaining how it supports your thesis, your readers may not make a connection between the two, or they may draw different conclusions.

Example of the Toulmin Method:

Claim:  Hybrid cars are an effective strategy to fight pollution.

Data1:  Driving a private car is a typical citizen's most air-polluting activity.

Warrant 1:  Due to the fact that cars are the largest source of private (as opposed to industrial) air pollution, switching to hybrid cars should have an impact on fighting pollution.

Data 2:  Each vehicle produced is going to stay on the road for roughly 12 to 15 years.

Warrant 2:  Cars generally have a long lifespan, meaning that the decision to switch to a hybrid car will make a long-term impact on pollution levels.

Data 3:  Hybrid cars combine a gasoline engine with a battery-powered electric motor.

Warrant 3:  The combination of these technologies produces less pollution.

Counterclaim:  Instead of focusing on cars, which still encourages an inefficient culture of driving even as it cuts down on pollution, the nation should focus on building and encouraging the use of mass transit systems.

Rebuttal:  While mass transit is an idea that should be encouraged, it is not feasible in many rural and suburban areas, or for people who must commute to work. Thus, hybrid cars are a better solution for much of the nation's population.

Rogerian Method

The Rogerian Method  (named for, but not developed by, influential American psychotherapist Carl R. Rogers) is a popular method for controversial issues. This strategy seeks to find a common ground between parties by making the audience understand perspectives that stretch beyond (or even run counter to) the writer’s position. Moreso than other methods, it places an emphasis on reiterating an opponent's argument to his or her satisfaction. The persuasive power of the Rogerian Method lies in its ability to define the terms of the argument in such a way that:

  • your position seems like a reasonable compromise.
  • you seem compassionate and empathetic.

The basic format of the Rogerian Method  is as follows:

Introduction:  Introduce the issue to the audience, striving to remain as objective as possible.

Opposing View : Explain the other side’s position in an unbiased way. When you discuss the counterargument without judgement, the opposing side can see how you do not directly dismiss perspectives which conflict with your stance.

Statement of Validity (Understanding):  This section discusses how you acknowledge how the other side’s points can be valid under certain circumstances. You identify how and why their perspective makes sense in a specific context, but still present your own argument.

Statement of Your Position:  By this point, you have demonstrated that you understand the other side’s viewpoint. In this section, you explain your own stance.

Statement of Contexts : Explore scenarios in which your position has merit. When you explain how your argument is most appropriate for certain contexts, the reader can recognize that you acknowledge the multiple ways to view the complex issue.

Statement of Benefits:  You should conclude by explaining to the opposing side why they would benefit from accepting your position. By explaining the advantages of your argument, you close on a positive note without completely dismissing the other side’s perspective.

Example of the Rogerian Method:

Introduction:  The issue of whether children should wear school uniforms is subject to some debate.

Opposing View:  Some parents think that requiring children to wear uniforms is best.

Statement of Validity (Understanding):  Those parents who support uniforms argue that, when all students wear the same uniform, the students can develop a unified sense of school pride and inclusiveness.

Statement of Your Position : Students should not be required to wear school uniforms. Mandatory uniforms would forbid choices that allow students to be creative and express themselves through clothing.

Statement of Contexts:  However, even if uniforms might hypothetically promote inclusivity, in most real-life contexts, administrators can use uniform policies to enforce conformity. Students should have the option to explore their identity through clothing without the fear of being ostracized.

Statement of Benefits:  Though both sides seek to promote students' best interests, students should not be required to wear school uniforms. By giving students freedom over their choice, students can explore their self-identity by choosing how to present themselves to their peers.

Classical Method

The Classical Method of structuring an argument is another common way to organize your points. Originally devised by the Greek philosopher Aristotle (and then later developed by Roman thinkers like Cicero and Quintilian), classical arguments tend to focus on issues of definition and the careful application of evidence. Thus, the underlying assumption of classical argumentation is that, when all parties understand the issue perfectly, the correct course of action will be clear.

The basic format of the Classical Method  is as follows:

Introduction (Exordium): Introduce the issue and explain its significance. You should also establish your credibility and the topic’s legitimacy.

Statement of Background (Narratio): Present vital contextual or historical information to the audience to further their understanding of the issue. By doing so, you provide the reader with a working knowledge about the topic independent of your own stance.

Proposition (Propositio): After you provide the reader with contextual knowledge, you are ready to state your claims which relate to the information you have provided previously. This section outlines your major points for the reader.

Proof (Confirmatio): You should explain your reasons and evidence to the reader. Be sure to thoroughly justify your reasons. In this section, if necessary, you can provide supplementary evidence and subpoints.

Refutation (Refuatio): In this section, you address anticipated counterarguments that disagree with your thesis. Though you acknowledge the other side’s perspective, it is important to prove why your stance is more logical.  

Conclusion (Peroratio): You should summarize your main points. The conclusion also caters to the reader’s emotions and values. The use of pathos here makes the reader more inclined to consider your argument.  

Example of the Classical Method:  

Introduction (Exordium): Millions of workers are paid a set hourly wage nationwide. The federal minimum wage is standardized to protect workers from being paid too little. Research points to many viewpoints on how much to pay these workers. Some families cannot afford to support their households on the current wages provided for performing a minimum wage job .

Statement of Background (Narratio): Currently, millions of American workers struggle to make ends meet on a minimum wage. This puts a strain on workers’ personal and professional lives. Some work multiple jobs to provide for their families.

Proposition (Propositio): The current federal minimum wage should be increased to better accommodate millions of overworked Americans. By raising the minimum wage, workers can spend more time cultivating their livelihoods.

Proof (Confirmatio): According to the United States Department of Labor, 80.4 million Americans work for an hourly wage, but nearly 1.3 million receive wages less than the federal minimum. The pay raise will alleviate the stress of these workers. Their lives would benefit from this raise because it affects multiple areas of their lives.

Refutation (Refuatio): There is some evidence that raising the federal wage might increase the cost of living. However, other evidence contradicts this or suggests that the increase would not be great. Additionally,   worries about a cost of living increase must be balanced with the benefits of providing necessary funds to millions of hardworking Americans.

Conclusion (Peroratio): If the federal minimum wage was raised, many workers could alleviate some of their financial burdens. As a result, their emotional wellbeing would improve overall. Though some argue that the cost of living could increase, the benefits outweigh the potential drawbacks.

Healthcare: A Right or a Privilege? Essay

Introduction, supporting point one, supporting point two, supporting point three, counterargument, works cited.

In many countries of the world, particularly the US, there is an active discussion about policy reforms and laws, which will help establish the situation in the country when a right or will be a privilege. It is essential to understand that if some opportunities and tools will theoretically allow all population groups to get good healthcare, the lack of faith in healthcare as a right is due to the ineffectiveness and illiteracy of the existing methods. The argument of the essay rejects the opinion regarding the privileged of qualitative healthcare and stresses that poor people can have the right to this, provided that the government’s actions are competent and correct in-laws, effective policy reforms, and equitable social hierarchy. Despite the belief of many people that quality health care should be highly paid for and, therefore, be a privilege, the right to this healthcare can be obtained by everyone in the presence of literate and fair laws and police reforms.

As the first supporting point for the essay’s argument, one should stress that all people live in society and are united and dependable on each other. In this term, healthcare as the right for poor people who cannot afford high-cost medicines lies in a proper and justiciable social structure where every person will help others. It is essential that the rich people not use their status and power, so the poor will not have a right and access to qualitative healthcare. As an example of this supporting point, it will be vital to highlight the concept of the neighborhood of people, which Karla Butts determines in her book Healthcare as a Right, not a Privilege . As Butts states, “interruptions to success in this process come when people in positions of power neglect to recognize that less inclusive social perspectives have a human cost” (9). Therefore, the first supporting point highlights that making healthcare a right but not a privilege is possible because of equality. Consequently, the appropriate policy reforms should help to implement this idea into life and make justifiable rights for healthcare for both poor and rich people.

The following supporting point refutes the concept of privileged healthcare. It supports the essay’s argument in terms of the possibility of applications of different types of health care providing and collaboration with other people groups. Underlying this supporting point is the understanding that to create public healthcare as a right for all people, such instruments and approaches as volunteering, donations, and various programs and initiatives are crucial. This fact rejects the concept of privilege in medicine, as it gives poor people the right to quality healthcare even without the necessary financial means (Maruthappu 5). On the one hand, this approach is a continuation of the concept of the previous paragraph regarding neighborhoods in society. On the other hand, in the case of the instruments mentioned above, the involvement of the State and the implementation of these methods at the legislative level are crucial. It will help make the cases of volunteering and donations in medicine not isolated and rare, but introduce them permanently, which will help poor people legitimately demand quality medicine as part of their rights.

When considering the third supporting point, it is vital to give an example of other developed countries to compare the situation with healthcare in the United States. In many countries, such as the U.K. or Canada, healthcare provides the population the right (Rice 39). In this context, it is worth highlighting one crucial feature that is the indirect result of this concept, which positively impacts society. In the U.S., there are always situations that demonstrate specific problems with equality among different population groups. The right to healthcare for all will launch positive societal processes, beginning the movement toward equality and justice. By installing healthcare as a right, people will understand that non-discrimination becomes possible.

As a counterargument, which will emphasize the correctness of healthcare as a privilege, one should highlight the average quality of medical services when adopting the concept of healthcare as a right. Certain medicines and medical equipment are expensive and require substantial funding. Therefore, as a supporting point for the counterargument, such tools as volunteering or donations will not be able to cover the cost of these medicines. As a result, these services will become inaccessible to the poor and the rich (Loewy and Erich 4). The negative effect of healthcare as a right will be establishing a specific limit on the level of quality, as it will be forced to adapt to the needs of poor people who do not have enough money to pay for all the medical services they need. Consequently, the health sector will be underfunded at the State level, affecting its quality and range of services.

In conclusion, it will be necessary to stress that healthcare as a right and a privilege have advantages and disadvantages. However, given all the supporting points described in the essay, one can state that the right to quality healthcare can be granted to all segments of the population. In the context of considering a particular sample of people, poor groups were chosen. After identifying supporting points and using various sources of literature and articles, it became clear that the concept of healthcare as a right has significant benefits for society, such as equity and overall health improvement. The right laws, effective reforms, and justified society are crucial to its achievement.

Butts, Karla. Healthcare as a Right, not a Privilege: Reshaping America’s Moral Lens , 2016.

Loewy, Roberta Springer, and Erich, Loewy. “ Healthcare and the Hospital Chaplain .” Medscape General Medicine , vol. 9, no. 1, 2007, p. 53, Web.

Maruthappu, Mahiben, et al. “ Is Health Care a Right? Health Reforms in the USA and Their Impact upon the Concept of Care .” Annals of Medicine and Surgery , vol. 2, no. 1, 2013, pp. 15–17, Web.

Rice, Thomas. Health Insurance Systems: An International Comparison . Academic Press, 2021.

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IvyPanda. (2024, February 28). Healthcare: A Right or a Privilege? https://ivypanda.com/essays/healthcare-a-right-or-a-privilege/

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Bibliography

IvyPanda . "Healthcare: A Right or a Privilege?" February 28, 2024. https://ivypanda.com/essays/healthcare-a-right-or-a-privilege/.

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