I've been meaning to do this for a while but time flew by.
INTRODUCTION: State the problem that you hope to resolve. By presenting your issue as a problem in need of a solution, you raise the possibility of positive change. This strategy can interest readers who would not be drawn to an argument that seems devoted to tearing something down.
SUMMARY OF OPPOSING VIEWS: As accurately and neutrally as possible, state the views of people with whom you disagree. By doing so, you show that you are capable of listening without judging and that you have given a fair hearing to people who think differently from you—the people you most need to reach.
STATEMENT OF UNDERSTANDING: Having summarized views different from your own, you now show that you understand that there are situations in which these views are valid. In other words, you are offering a kind of concession. You are not conceding that these views are always right, but you are recognizing that there are conditions under which you share the views of your opponents.
STATEMENT OF YOUR POSITION: having won the attention of both your opponents and those readers who do not have a position on your issue, you have secured a hearing from an audience that is in need of or is open to persuasion. Now that these readers know that you’ve given fair consideration to views other than your own, they should be prepared to listen fairly to your views.
STATEMENT OF CONTEXTS: Similar to the statement of understanding, in which you have described situations where you would be inclined to share the views of your opponents, the statement of contexts describes the situations in which you hope your own views would be honored. By showing that your position has merit in a specific context or contexts, you establish that you don’t expect everyone to agree with you all the time. The limitations you recognize increase the likelihood that your opponents will agree with you at least in part.
STATEMENT OF BENEFITS: You conclude your argument by appealing to the self-interest of people who do not already share your views but are beginning to respect them because of your presentation. When you conclude by showing how such readers would benefit from accepting your position, your essay’s ending is positive and hopeful.
May 1 2008, 5:03 pm