In this argumentative essay, students will demonstrate the critical reasoning skills in A Guide to Good Reasoning, Chapters 1-5. Essentially, this means writing an essay that provides clear and thoughtful reasons for a position on a controversial topic. Whereas Exam 1 will test students’ knowledge of terms and mastery of concepts from the course content, the SAL Essay will require students to apply and demonstrate their critical thinking skills.
Structure: The essay should have an introduction with a clearly stated thesis, three reasons to support the thesis, a counter-argument, and a conclusion. It should also cite sources in a bibliography/works cited/references page and be styled according to APA, Chicago or MLA format (whichever you prefer). It should be around 2000 words (approximately 8 double-spaced pages). It must be typed in a reader-friendly font, e.g., 12-pt Times New Roman.
Pay close attention to the rubric. This will show you what is expected for each element of the essay.
IMPORTANTLY, there is only ONE place in this essay where class jargon will be appropriate. After the introduction, students should outline their reasons (premises) and conclusion in standard clarifying format (see GGR, p. 56).
Otherwise, this essay should read like the type of essay you might write for an English (or Communications, Political Science, etc.) class.
You may wonder how to incorporate all the critical reasoning skills from GGR Ch 1-5 into your essay. That is not the goal of this essay! The goal of this essay is to demonstrate good reasoning by embodying the skills we’ve been learning about.
In other words, keep in mind things like the four merits of arguments, intellectual virtues, inference indicator words, the Principle of Charity, paraphrasing expressions as statements, and so forth. But these do not need to be specifically noted in your essay; just do them.
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