How to Write a Counter Argument (Step-by-Step Guide)

Have you been asked to include a counter argument in an essay you are writing? Unless you are already an experienced essay writer, you may have no idea where to even start. We’re here to help you tackle your counter argument like a pro.

What Is a Counter Argument?

A counter argument is precisely what it sounds like — an argument that offers reasons to disagree with an essay’s thesis statement. As you are writing your essay, you will likely pen multiple supporting arguments that outline precisely why readers should logically agree with the thesis. In a counter argument paragraph, you show that you also understand common reasons to believe differently.

In any given essay, you may write one or more counter arguments — and then, frequently, immediately refute them. Whether you are required to include a counter argument or you simply want to, always include:

  • A simple statement explaining the counter argument. As it will likely follow paragraphs in which you fleshed out your argument, this can start with words like “Some people are concerned that”, or “critics say”, or “On the other hand”.
  • Then include further reasoning, data, or statistics.
  • Following this, you will want to discredit the counter argument immediately.

Why Include a Counter Argument?

Including a counter argument (or multiple, for that matter) in an essay may be required, but even in cases where it is not, mentioning at least one counter argument can make your essay much stronger. You may, at first glance, believe that you are undermining yourself and contradicting your thesis statement. That’s not true at all. By including a counter argument in your essay, you show that:

  • You have done your research and are intimately familiar with each aspect of your thesis, including opposition to it.
  • You have arrived at your conclusion through the power of reason, and without undue bias.
  • You do not only blindly support your thesis, but can also deal with opposition to it.

In doing so, your essay will become much more reasoned and logical, and in practical terms, this likely means that you can count on a higher grade.

How To Write a Counter Argument (Step-by-Step Guide)

You have been laboring over your essay for a while, carefully researching each aspect of your thesis and making strong arguments that aim to persuade the reader that your view is the correct one — or at least that you are a solid writer who understands the subject matter and deserves a good grade for your efforts.

If you are passionate about the topic in question, it can be hard to decide how to incorporate a counter argument. Here’s how to do it, step-by-step:

1. Brainstorm

You have already researched your topic, so you know on what grounds people most frequently oppose your argument. Write them down. Pick one, or a few, that you consider to be important and interesting. Formulate the counter argument as if you were on the opposing side.

2. Making the Transition

Your counter argument paragraph or paragraphs differ from the rest of your essay, so you will want to introduce a counter argument with a transition. Common ways to do this are to introduce your counter argument with phrases like:

  • Admittedly, conversely, however, nevertheless, or although.
  • Opponents would argue that…
  • Common concerns with this position are…
  • Critics say that…

3. Offering Evidence

Flesh the counter argument out by offering evidence — of the fact that people hold that position (where possible, quote a well-known opponent), as well as reasons why. Word your counter argument in such a way that makes it clear that you have carefully considered the position, and are not simply belittling it. This portion of your counter argument will require doing additional research in most cases.

4. Refute the Counter Argument

You are still arguing in favor of your main thesis. You will, therefore, not just want to describe the opposing side and leave it at that — you will also thoughtfully want to show why the opposing argument is not valid, in your opinion, and you will want to include evidence here, as well.

5. Restate Your Argument

After refuting your counter argument, you can go ahead and restate your argument. Why should people believe what you have to say, despite any opposition?

How To Write A Good Counter Argument

As you’re writing a counter argument, you might run into some difficulties if you fervently believe in the truth of your argument. Indeed, in some cases, your argument may appear to you to be so obvious that you don’t understand why anyone could think differently.

To help you write a good counter argument, keep in mind that:

  • You should never caricature the opposing viewpoint. Show that you deeply understand it, instead.
  • To do this, it helps if you validate legitimate concerns you find in an opponent’s point of view.
  • This may require quite a bit of research, including getting into the opposing side’s mindset.
  • Refute your counter argument with compassion, and not smugly.

Examples of Counter Arguments with Refutation

Still not sure? No worries; we have you covered. Take a look at these examples:

  • Many people have argued that a vaccine mandate would strip people of their individual liberties by forcing them to inject foreign substances into their bodies. While this is, in a sense, true, the option of remaining unvaccinated likewise forces other people to be exposed to this virus; thereby potentially stripping them of the most important liberty of all — the liberty to stay alive.
  • The concern has been raised that the death penalty could irreversibly strip innocent people of their lives. The answer to this problem lies in raising the bar for death penalty sentences by limiting them to only those cases in which no question whatsoever exists that the convicted party was truly guilty. Modern forensic science has made this infinitely easier.

In short, you’ll want to acknowledge that other arguments exist, and then refute them. The tone in which you do so depends on your goal.

FAQs

What is a counter argument in a thesis?

A counter argument is one that supports the opposing side. In an essay, it shows that you understand other viewpoints, have considered them, and ultimately dismissed them.

Where do I place the counter argument in an essay?

Place the counter argument after your main supporting arguments.

How long should the counter argument be?

It may be a single paragraph or multiple, depending on how important you believe the counter argument to be and the length of the essay.

What is the difference between a counter argument and a rebuttal?

A counter argument describes the opposing side in some detail before it is refuted. In a rebuttal, you may simply oppose the opposition.

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