Skip to content

Writing Arguable Claims in Argumentative Essays (+Examples)

Developing an Arguable Thesis
In writing an argumentative essay, an arguable claim/argument, refers to a statement or proposition that is open to debate, discussion, or interpretation. It is a claim that invites different viewpoints, opinions, and evidence, allowing for differing perspectives and the potential for disagreement among individuals or groups. These arguments are factual, interpretive, or evaluative in nature. They are typically presented in the thesis statement and throughout the body paragraphs of an argumentative essay.

Key Components

The 3 basic components of an argument (arguable claim) are: claim, evidence, and logical reasoning. Here is a detailed explanation of each:

  1. Claim: A claim is a statement or proposition that expresses a viewpoint, assertion, or belief. It is an assertion that can be supported, challenged, or debated with evidence and reasoning. Claims are used to present arguments, make judgments, or convey opinions on various topics. They serve as the foundation for discussions, debates, and critical thinking, as they can be analyzed, evaluated, and either accepted or refuted.
  2. Evidence: Evidence refers to the factual information, data, examples, research findings, or expert opinions that support your claim. It provides concrete support and validity to your argument. When making a claim, you will need to present evidence throughout your essay to convince your readers of the credibility and reliability of your position.
  3. Logical Reasoning: Reasoning refers to the logical and rational connections between your claim and the evidence you present. It explains how the evidence supports and substantiates your claim. Reasoning helps readers understand the logical progression of your argument and how the evidence reinforces your stance.

Arguable claims are not self-evident or universally accepted truths. They often involve complex issues, controversial topics, or subjective matters where reasonable people can hold different opinions. The key characteristic of an arguable claim is that it can be supported or refuted with evidence, reasoning, and logical argumentation.

Developing Effective Arguable Claims

Argumentative Essay Essentials
Developing an arguable claim, also known as a thesis statement, is a crucial step in crafting a persuasive and well-structured argument. An arguable claim should be specific, debatable, and supported by evidence. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you create an effective arguable claim:

  1. Identify your topic: Choose a specific topic that you want to write or argue about. The more focused your topic is, the easier it will be to develop a clear and arguable claim.
  2. Research your topic: Gather information and evidence related to your topic. This can include books, articles, data, statistics, expert opinions, and personal experiences.
  3. Analyze your topic: Consider the different perspectives and viewpoints on the topic. Are there varying opinions, theories, or interpretations related to the subject matter?
  4. Determine your stance: Based on your research and analysis, decide where you stand on the issue. What is your main argument or position? Are you in favor of something, against it, or proposing a new solution?
  5. Make it specific: Your claim should be clear and specific. Avoid vague, broad, or general statements. Instead, focus on a narrow aspect of the topic that can be effectively discussed in your essay or argument.
  6. Make it debatable: An arguable claim is one that invites debate or discussion. It should not be an obvious fact or something that everyone agrees with. Consider counterarguments and differing viewpoints on the topic.
  7. Craft a concise and clear statement: Write a one or two-sentence statement that encapsulates your argument. This is your thesis statement, which should appear in the introduction of your essay.
  8. Use strong and precise language: Ensure your claim is expressed in clear, direct language that conveys your position with conviction. Avoid vague terms or weak qualifiers.
  9. Support with evidence: A strong arguable claim is only as good as the evidence supporting it. Ensure you have credible and relevant evidence to back up your position. This might include data, examples, quotes, or research findings.
  10. Revise and refine: Review and refine your claim as you work on your argument. It’s okay to make adjustments based on new information or insights that arise during your writing process.

Here’s an example of a non-arguable claim and its transformation into an arguable one:

Non-Arguable Claim: “Climate change is real.”

Arguable Claim: “Human activities, such as the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation, are the primary drivers of climate change, and addressing these issues is crucial for mitigating its impacts.”

The arguable claim is specific, debatable, and supported by the assertion that human activities are the primary cause of climate change, which can be debated with counterarguments and evidence.

Remember that the strength of your argument depends on the quality of your claim and the evidence you provide to support it. An effective thesis statement will guide your readers and help them understand the core of your argument.

Main Types

3 Main Types of Arguable Claims
There are 3 main types of arguable claims typically applied in writing an argumentative essay: factual, interpretive, or evaluative.

  1. Factual/Existence Claims: These claims are based on objective evidence and can be verified by facts, statistics, or research. Examples of factual claims might include “smoking causes lung cancer” or “climate change is caused by human activity.”
  2. Interpretive Claims: These claims involve an interpretation or analysis of evidence, rather than just presenting objective facts. Examples of interpretive claims might include “the protagonist in the novel is a symbol of society’s struggle for justice” or “the painting is a critique of capitalism.”
  3. Evaluative Claims: These claims involve a value judgment or evaluation of something, such as an idea, object, or action. Examples of evaluative claims might include “capital punishment is immoral” or “online education is more effective than traditional classroom instruction.”

Overall, claims are a crucial component of argumentative essays as they provide the foundation for the writer’s argument and persuade the reader to accept the writer’s point of view.


Examples of Arguable Claims of Fact

Here are some examples of arguable claims of fact that can be applied in argumentative essays with each component identified:

  1. Arguable Claim of Fact Example on Vaccinations vs. Diseases:
    • Claim: Vaccinations are safe and effective.
    • Evidence: Studies have shown that vaccines significantly reduce the incidence of diseases such as measles, mumps, and rubella. The World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommend vaccinations for individuals of all ages.
    • Reasoning: Vaccinations work by stimulating the immune system to produce antibodies that can fight off specific diseases. By vaccinating individuals, the spread of diseases can be prevented, thus promoting public health.
  2. Factual Claim Example on Climate Change:
    • Claim: Climate change is real and is caused by human activity.
    • Evidence: The Earth’s temperature has increased by approximately 1 degree Celsius since the Industrial Revolution, and there is evidence of melting glaciers, rising sea levels, and extreme weather events. Research has also shown that greenhouse gas emissions from human activity, such as burning fossil fuels and deforestation, contribute significantly to climate change.
    • Reasoning: The burning of fossil fuels and deforestation release large amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, trapping heat and contributing to the Earth’s warming. The impacts of climate change, such as rising sea levels and extreme weather events, have significant consequences for human health and the environment.
  3. Factual Claim Example on the Death Penalty:
    • Claim: The death penalty does not effectively deter crime and is applied disproportionately to marginalized groups.
    • Evidence: Studies have shown that the death penalty does not effectively deter crime and that the risk of being sentenced to death is often determined by factors such as race, socioeconomic status, and location. In addition, there have been cases of innocent individuals being sentenced to death.
    • Reasoning: The use of the death penalty as a form of punishment is controversial and raises questions about its effectiveness as a deterrent to crime. The disproportionate application of the death penalty to marginalized groups also raises concerns about its fairness and equity in the criminal justice system.
  4. Factual Claim Example on Environmental Pollution:
    • Claim: The use of plastic bags and straws contributes to environmental pollution and harm to marine life.
    • Evidence: Single-use plastics such as bags and straws are major sources of plastic pollution in the environment. They are not biodegradable and can persist in the environment for hundreds of years, causing harm to wildlife and ecosystems. In addition, plastic pollution has been found in the food chain, with potential impacts on human health.
    • Reasoning: The use of plastic bags and straws is a significant contributor to environmental pollution and has significant consequences for the health of the planet and its inhabitants. Alternatives such as reusable bags and biodegradable straws can help reduce the impact of plastic pollution on the environment.

Examples of Arguable Interpretive Claims

Here are some examples of arguable interpretive claims that can be applied in argumentative essays with each component identified:

  1. Interpretive Claim Example on Shakespeare’s Play “Hamlet”:
    • Claim: Shakespeare’s play “Hamlet” explores the theme of revenge and its destructive consequences on both the individual and society.
    • Evidence: Throughout the play, Hamlet seeks revenge for his father’s murder, which ultimately leads to the deaths of multiple characters and the destabilization of the Danish kingdom. Additionally, the character of Fortinbras, who seeks revenge for his father’s death, is presented as a foil to Hamlet, highlighting the destructive nature of revenge.
    • Reasoning: Shakespeare’s exploration of revenge in “Hamlet” critiques the idea of vengeance as a means of justice and highlights its negative impact on individuals and society as a whole.
  2. Interpretive Claim Example on the Character of Lady Macbeth in Shakespeare’s Play “Macbeth”
    • Claim: The character of Lady Macbeth in Shakespeare’s play “Macbeth” embodies the theme of ambition and the corrupting influence of power.
    • Evidence: Lady Macbeth encourages Macbeth to murder King Duncan in order to fulfill their ambition of becoming king and queen. As Macbeth becomes increasingly ruthless and paranoid, Lady Macbeth also suffers from guilt and madness, ultimately leading to her suicide.
    • Reasoning: Through the character of Lady Macbeth, Shakespeare explores the theme of ambition and the corrupting influence of power, highlighting the dangerous consequences of unchecked ambition.
  3. Interpretive Claim Example on George Orwell’s Novel “1984”
    • Claim: In George Orwell’s novel “1984,” the theme of government control and manipulation of language is a commentary on totalitarianism and its dangers to individual freedom.
    • Evidence: In the novel, the government of Oceania uses Newspeak, a language designed to limit free thought and expression, and manipulates historical records to control the population. The protagonist, Winston, rebels against the government’s control of language and information, ultimately facing severe consequences for his dissent.
    • Reasoning: Through its exploration of government control and manipulation of language, “1984” serves as a warning against the dangers of totalitarianism and the importance of individual freedom and autonomy.
  4. Interpretive Claim Example on Harper Lee’s Novel “To Kill a Mockingbird”
    • Claim: The novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee critiques racism and prejudice in the American South during the 1930s.
    • Evidence: The novel depicts the trial of Tom Robinson, a Black man falsely accused of rape, and the racism and prejudice he faces in the criminal justice system. The character of Atticus Finch, a white lawyer who defends Tom, is presented as a moral exemplar and an ally in the fight against racism and injustice.
    • Reasoning: Through its critique of racism and prejudice in the American South, “To Kill a Mockingbird” highlights the need for empathy, understanding, and social justice.
  5. Interpretive Claim Example on the Film “Get Out”:
    • Claim: The film “Get Out” directed by Jordan Peele uses the horror genre to comment on racism and the appropriation of Black culture in contemporary society.
    • Evidence: The plot revolves around a Black protagonist who visits his white girlfriend’s family, only to discover a sinister conspiracy involving the exploitation and commodification of Black individuals. This storyline allows the film to explore themes of racism, cultural appropriation, and the dynamics of power between races.
    • Reasoning: The claim that “Get Out” uses the horror genre to comment on racism and the appropriation of Black culture can be supported by examining the evidence mentioned above. The film’s intentional use of symbolism, the storyline that revolves around racial themes, and the portrayal of characters all contribute to the interpretation of its underlying message.

Examples of Arguable Evaluative Claims

Evaluation Argument
Below are some examples of evaluative claims that can be applied in argumentative essays with each component identified:

  1. Evaluative Claim Example on the Use of Social Media:
    • Claim: The use of social media has had a negative impact on interpersonal communication and relationships.
    • Evidence: Studies have shown that excessive use of social media can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness, and can also contribute to a decline in face-to-face communication skills.
    • Reasoning: The negative impact of social media on interpersonal communication and relationships can be attributed to the fact that it often promotes a superficial, curated version of oneself that is not reflective of one’s true self. This can lead to a lack of authenticity and meaningful connection in relationships.
  2. Evaluative Claim Example on Online Learning:
    • Claim: Online learning is a more effective and efficient method of education than traditional classroom learning.
    • Evidence: Online learning has been shown to increase accessibility to education, improve flexibility for students, and provide more opportunities for individualized learning.
    • Reasoning: Online learning is more effective and efficient than traditional classroom learning because it allows students to learn at their own pace, provides access to a wider range of resources, and encourages more active engagement in the learning process.
  3. Evaluative Claim Example on the Legalization of Marijuana:
    • Claim: The legalization of marijuana would have significant economic and social benefits for society.
    • Evidence: Legalization of marijuana would generate revenue from taxes, reduce the burden on law enforcement and the criminal justice system, and create jobs in the legal marijuana industry.
    • Reasoning: The legalization of marijuana would have significant economic and social benefits for society because it would remove the stigma associated with its use and reduce the harm caused by its criminalization. It would also provide a safer, regulated market for marijuana and reduce the risks associated with purchasing from unregulated sources.
  4. Evaluative Claim Example on the Use of Performance-enhancing Drugs in Sports:
    • Claim: The use of performance-enhancing drugs in sports is unethical and undermines the integrity of athletic competition.
    • Evidence: The use of performance-enhancing drugs can give athletes an unfair advantage over others, and can also have harmful health effects on the user.
    • Reasoning: The use of performance-enhancing drugs in sports is unethical and undermines the integrity of athletic competition because it is a form of cheating that undermines the principles of fair play and equal opportunity. It also sends a negative message to young athletes and fans, and can lead to a culture of drug use in sports.
  5. Evaluative Claim Example on the Death Penalty:
    • Claim: The death penalty is an ineffective and unjust form of punishment that should be abolished.
    • Evidence: Studies have shown that the death penalty does not effectively deter crime, and that it is often applied in a racially biased manner. Additionally, there is a risk of executing innocent people.
    • Reasoning: The death penalty is an ineffective and unjust form of punishment that should be abolished because it violates human rights, fails to effectively deter crime, and is often applied unfairly. Additionally, the risk of executing innocent people is too high to justify its use as a form of punishment.

Techniques of Development

There are several techniques that can be applied in developing claims based on purpose:

  1. Prescriptive/Proposal Claims:
    Proposal claims propose a course of action or make recommendations for a specific problem or situation. i.e.:

    • Implementing stricter gun control laws will reduce gun-related violence.
    • Implementing a four-day workweek will increase employee productivity.
    • Introducing stricter penalties for texting while driving would decrease the number of accidents caused by distracted driving
    • Implementing a universal basic income would reduce income inequality.
    • Legalizing recreational marijuana would generate tax revenue and reduce drug-related crime.
  2. Causal Claims:
    Causal claims assert a cause-and-effect relationship between two or more factors or events. i.e.:

    • Excessive sugar consumption leads to an increased risk of developing diabetes.
    • Regular exercise decreases the risk of developing heart disease.
    • Higher education is correlated with higher lifetime earnings.
    • Excessive screen time is linked to decreased attention span in children.
  3. Comparative Claims:
    Comparative claims involve comparing two or more things or ideas and asserting their similarities, differences, or relative merits. i.e.:

    • Electric cars are more environmentally friendly than gasoline-powered cars.
    • Public transportation is a more sustainable option than individual car ownership.
    • Online shopping offers greater convenience compared to traditional retail stores.
  4. Feasibility Claims:
    Feasibility claims argue for the practicality or possibility of implementing a certain idea, plan, or solution. i.e.:

    • Implementing universal healthcare in the United States is financially viable.
    • Implementing a colony on Mars is a feasible long-term goal for human exploration.
    • Introducing high-speed rail networks across the country is economically viable.
    • Transitioning to a completely renewable energy grid by 2050 is feasible.
  5. Definitive Claims:
    Definitive claims provide a clear and specific definition or understanding of a concept, term, or phenomenon. i.e.:

    • Water boils at 100 degrees Celsius at sea level under standard atmospheric conditions.
    • The Earth revolves around the sun.
    • Triangles have three sides.
  6. Counterclaims (Rebuttals):
    Counterclaims challenge or oppose the main argument or thesis, presenting an alternative perspective or interpretation. i.e.:

    • Vegan diets are not nutritionally adequate for human health.
    • Vaccines can have adverse side effects in a small percentage of individuals.
    • Gun ownership can enhance personal safety and protection against potential threats.
    • Raising the minimum wage could lead to job losses and reduced employment opportunities.
  7. Consequence Claims:
    Consequence claims assert the potential outcomes or effects of a certain action, event, or decision. i.e.:

    • Failure to address climate change will result in severe environmental degradation.
    • Increased automation in industries may lead to significant job displacement.
    • Failure to invest in early childhood education can lead to long-term societal consequences.

By recognizing and understanding these various techniques used in developing arguable claims, writers can effectively structure their arguments to suite a particular purpose in different sections of their argumentative essays. Remember to support each arguable claim/argument with sufficient, relevant, and credible evidence and logical reasoning to illustrate validity and persuade the reader to agree with your position.