Chapter 7 -- Making Good Arguments: An Overview

It’s helpful to consider the early suggestions and proposed process of thoughtfully planning or “assembling” an argument. It would likely otherwise be my approach to build each argument piecemeal along the way, as more data is gathered, rather than fill-in a predetermined format in advance.

Structure for an argument:

Claim → reasons → evidence → acknowledge alternatives, respond → principles/warrants (relevance of reasons to claim)

A claim is the answer to my research question, or the solution to my problem. Claims are supported by reasons and evidence.

A reason is a statement that will allow readers to buy into the answer I have put forward to solve my research question or problem. (It directly supports my claim.)

Evidence is used to support the reason I put forward. (Reasons are based on evidence.)

Acknowledging alternatives is about preempting questions from readers and addressing counterexamples and potential disagreements in the structure of making my argument.

A warrant connects the reason(s) put forward to support the claim in terms of relevance.

Each element as described can have their own sub-argument structure which increases and argument’s complexity.

My ethos is the quality of my mind / my implied character!


  • How will my project fit into any field’s “typical problems, methods, schools of thought, and standard forms of argument”? Will I be relying on objective data?

Chapter 8 -- Making Claims

The biggest takeaway from this chapter is to make a claim specific, and to make it significant. “Vague claims lead to vague arguments” resonated with me, as did “the richer your working claim, the more complex your argument is likely to be.”

The authors return here to reiterate that the worst possible question for any research question/problem: Why should I care?

Note: qualifying clause (‘although’ / ‘even though’) for introduction; reason clause (‘because’) for conclusion


  • How will I determine the limiting conditions of the claims I’m making? And how will I know when too much hedging becomes too much? A general concern moving forward, something to keep an eye on.

Chapter 9 -- Assembling Reasons and Evidence

The order of reasons is significant for the “logical structure” of the argument. (Note storyboarding approach to defining this outline.) Each reason put forward should have enough evidence attached to support it.

The argument needs to stand up to (or stand upon) the ‘foundational metaphors for evidence’ (solid, hard, bedrock, etc.) How will readers attempt to drill/frack through the reasons I’m using to backup my claims?

Evidence will (ideally) be constructed of facts, and “facts are shaped by those who collect them and again by the intentions of those who use them.” I have to convince all readers that my data is ‘solid’ and trustworthy. Acknowledge any shaping going on. Evidence needs to be: “accurate, precise, sufficient, representative, and authoritative.”


  • How will I determine that I have enough evidence to be representative of the full range of available evidence / approaches to qualify or quantify the reason?  

Chapter 10 -- Acknowledgements and Responses

This piece of the argument is all about preempting questions and interrogations from the reader about the ideas that I’m submitting.

Note intrinsic vs extrinsic soundness: quality and clarity of claim/reasons/evidence vs other potential ways of looking at the problem, what I’ve missed or what other people have said.

At every step of building an argument, no matter how complex, I should be interrogating my question and my proposed solution. What are all the possible objections and how would I address them, and should I?

Note “the vocabulary of acknowledgement and response.”


  • The authors encourage not to “dismiss evidence because you think it is irrelevant or unreliable” because readers might not see it the same way ----- have I already written off some evidence because of similar reasons?
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