Unit 6: Argumentative Essay Writing

41 Counterargument and Refutation Development

In an argumentative essay, you need to convince your audience that your opinion is the most valid opinion. To do so, your essay needs to be balanced—it needs an opposing (opposite) viewpoint, known as a counter-argument. Even though you are arguing one side of an issue, you must include what someone from the other side would say. After your opponent’s view, include a refutation to demonstrate why the other point of view is wrong.

Identifying Counterarguments

There are many ways to identify alternative perspectives.

  • Have an imaginary dialogue with a "devil's advocate."
  • Discuss your topic with a classmate or group of classmates.
  • Interview someone who holds the opposite opinion.
  • Read about the topic to learn more about different perspectives.

Example Argument

In the conversation below the writer talks to someone with the opposite opinion. Roberto thinks professors should incorporate Facebook into their teaching. Fatima argues the opposing side. This discussion helps the writer identify a counterargument.

Roberto: I think professors should incorporate Facebook into their teaching. Students could connect with each other in and out of the classroom. (Position and pro-argument)

Fatima: Hmmm… that could work, but I don’t think it’s a very good idea. Not all students are on Facebook. Some students don’t want to create accounts and share their private information. (Counterargument)

Roberto: Well…. students could create an account that’s just for the course.

Fatima: Maybe, but some students won’t want to use their personal accounts and would find it troublesome to create an additional “temporary class account.” Plus, I think more young people prefer Instagram. 

Example Counterargument paragraph

Roberto used information from the conversation and evidence from sources to write the counterargument paragraph. This paragraph concludes with a concession of validity and is followed by the refutation.

Some students do not think that professors should force students to use Facebook for class purposes. In fact, not all students have Facebook accounts. According to the Pew Research Center, 80% of college students have Facebook accounts (Greenwood, 2016, p. 23). The remaining 20% of students might not be willing to create a temporary one in order to friend their classmates. Moreover, student preferences for social media are changing. The Pew Research Center also reports that teens are less interested in Facebook and sharing with strangers than in the past, and more interested in using Instagram with a smaller number of followers (Madden et al, 2013, p. 412). This trend further suggests that Facebook is not a recommended platform for fostering student connections. There may be some truth to these claims.

Example Refutation paragraph

However, teachers can replicate a Facebook type of experience within Canvas without requiring students to create an account. In the same way that Facebook users post content, such as text and photos, instructors can create Canvas Discussions where students post memes or gifs instead of personal content ….. Refutation continues. ….

Counterargument and refutation stems

Below are the stems organized in a table.



Problematize. Identify the opposing view’s perspective.

*Note: Sometimes the opposing view is a supporter of the topic you are against.

  • Critics (might) argue that …
  • Some concerned citizens believe/think/feel that …
  • Some experts believe that … / Experts claim …
  • Research shows …
  • It could be argued / claimed that …
  • It has been argued that …
  • *Supporters of X might claim that …
  • *Proponents of X, on the other hand, believe …
Develop the counterargument. Explain the opposing view’s side.
Acknowledge (or concede to) the opposing view’s side.
  • These arguments seem to make sense.
  • These arguments have some validity.
  • It may/might be true that …
  • There is some truth to this argument.
  • Admittedly, …


Transition to the refutation.
  • However, …
  • Despite these claims, …
  • Nevertheless, …
  • However, it may not be entirely true that …
Develop the refutation. Explain YOUR defense against the counterargument. 

Watch this video

The video refers to counterarguments as “counterclaims” and refutations as “rebuttals.

From: Karen Baxley




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