Performing the following exercise will help
you identify the significance of your argument and make it easier for you
to write your argument's conclusion.
1. Write down your debatable issue in the form
of a definition question: What is X?
2. Write down your thesis claim:
Hog factories are corporate industries.
3. Now write down some possible theses an opponent
might argue, preserving the definition rhetoric.
Hog factories are not corporate industries.
4. After comparing your argument to your
opponent's, jot down a few sentences which summarizes the most essential
differences between your stance and your opponents. A good way to do this
is to ask yourself "SO WHAT?" Who cares? What is the relevancy or importance
of your topic to most people? It helps if you can categorize your
issues. Notice how the student takes a topic of rather narrow or limited
appeal (hog factories) and connects that topic to larger categories (environment,
ethical treatment of animals).
Hog factories are agricultural operations.
Hog factories are actually farms.
I argue that hog factories are corporate industries.
Who cares? Well, farmers obviously care, but the scope of my argument
extends beyond farmers to the environment itself, which concerns ALL of
us. So what if we consider them industries or not? The essential
issue here is that their sheer size contributes to environmental pollution,
economic losses, and cruelty to animals. Environmental issues concern us
all and we all have a responsibility to treat animals ethically. These
are the issues at stake in my definition. All my opponents who want to
consider the operations as farms are focussing merely on the "agricultural"
product -- pigs, when if fact these operations have more in common with
industries than farms.
5. Now you're ready to write your conclusion
with a greater awareness of your topic's significance or relevance to your
audience. By comparing your thesis to your opponent's stances, you also
have a greater awareness of what is at stake in your definition. Notice
that this conclusion does not merely repeat the thesis and reasons.
Instead, it answers the question "So what?" In other words, this conclusion
pursues the implications and significance of the thesis's definition, linking
a specific instance (pig factory) to larger meaningful issues and a discussion
of what's at stake in the classification. Given that folk can approach
the issue in a variety of ways, what's so important about yours? Finally,
the conclusion also pursues the implications of your having pursued one
path over the others. In the case below, the implications have to do with
the ability to regulate the pig factories.
In response to the
growing concern over hog factory conditions, some states are beginning
to create special classifications for large-scale animal production facilities.
For instance, Missouri passed legislation in 1996 to regulate what they
called Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs). As midwesterners
become increasingly hostile to hog factories, the operations are starting
to migrate to western states having fewer regulations, but where water
is in shorter supply and the risk of contamination much greater. These
operations are called pig "factories" for a reason: they are corporate
industries hiding behind an agricultural facade because they produce pigs
as their product. Unfortunately, as long as we classify hog factories as
"big farms," they will escape the rigorous and stringent environmental
standards controlling the disposal of human wastes and industrial discharges
(Missouri Coalition for the Environment). Properly classifying them as
industries would subject them to industrial regulation, and I just bet
the expense of having to clean up their industrial waste would put the
independent farmer back in the competition. Much is at stake in this debate
over classification: for the environment, for the farmer, and for the pigs
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