Definition Exercise

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:               X             is a                Y           .

3. Now write down some possible theses an opponent might argue, preserving the definition rhetoric.

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).

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.

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