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Ron Cooley, English Faculty

Both sides of an Argument

I've looked at both sides of the argument, but I can't seem to get off the fence. What can I do?

You have to acknowledge the other points of view all the time. The key is sometimes you have to be a little bit arbitrary about it. If you really think that the evidence is just about equally balanced, then, if you are a little bit daring, then what you probably want to do is pick what might seem the slightly riskier side of an argument. If it is really very close, and you just can't decide, you have to make a decision, you have to have a thesis, [and] you have to be making a claim. ...that's the sense in which an essay for a course is always a kind of dress rehearsal; it doesn't have to be your heartfelt convictions, but it has to be something that you feel you can argue a compelling case for. So, yeah, sometimes you want to choose, if the evidence is...equally balanced, choose the slightly more daring thesis -- provided there is some evidence to substantiate it -- and go with that one.