An argument synthesis essay utilizes the skills that you have developed in previous essays. You must be able to critically read and summarize the source materials. The goal of an argument synthesis is to use evidence from all of the sources to persuade the reader that a particular claim is true. For this essay, you will take a position (make your claim) by answering: Is it possible to define and measure happiness? This is not a simple yes or no answer. You must argue your position, recognize and present at least 2 valid counterarguments (to your claim), and offer responses to those counterarguments. You must summarize and critique each source and show the relationship among all of these sources. You will write a 5-6 page argument synthesis with evidence from 4-5 sources. You will choose your 4-5 sources from the list provided (below). You must synthesize at least 4 of your chosen sources. At least 2 of the sources must come from Chapter 12 (WRAC). The idea of showing connections (synthesis) among sources is sometimes confusing; the essay worksheet will assist you in setting up these connections.
– “Pig Happiness” Lynne McFall (WRAC – 410)
– “In Pursuit of Happiness” Mark Kingwell (WRAC – 413)
– “Happy Like God” Simon Critchley (WRAC – 448)
– “A Critique of Positive Psychology” Richard Schoch (WRAC – 451)
– “Some Dark Thoughts on Happiness” Jennifer Senior (WRAC – 422)
– “The New Science of Happiness” Claudia Wallis (Time)
Steps for a successful argument synthesis:
– Reread the articles. Underline each stage of thought. Highlight evidence.
– Title the synthesis. Offer a creative title.
– Summarize the main ideas of each author.
– Evaluate and Choose ideas/evidence that support your claim.
– Define Your Purpose. You need a clear understanding of your claim.
– Make a Claim. This is your thesis. The claim is the point you are trying to prove.
– Summarize, Paraphrase, and Quote the supporting evidence.
– Organize the source evidence. Decide which information is useful and where you will place it in your essay. It works well to save the most important evidence for the end.
– Counterargument. You must use one of the source articles as a counterargument (you can’t agree with both sides of your argument). Evaluate the opposing viewpoint for validity. Is the information accurate? Are the arguments logical? Are there any logical fallacies?
– Choose Your Argument Style. What is the most effective way to argue your claim? How should you present the source evidence?
– Use Proper MLA Citation of Sources. Check your handbook.
– Check for transitions. Do not write in short, choppy sentences.
– Check for grammar, punctuation, and spelling.
– As with all academic level essays, DO NOT WRITE IN FIRST PERSON (no I, me, my…).
Reasoning. The argumentative essay must employ an argument of reason, induction, discussion, and a conclusion. It is not simply your opinion. It must not be an emotionally charged argument.
Fallacies. Do not commit the logical fallacies discussed in the textbook. You do want to point out these fallacies as they are committed by the opposing viewpoint.
The Thesis. This is your claim or answer to a specific issue. The thesis
is WHAT you believe.