Cathy A.
Cathy A.

Basic Types of Argument and How to Use Them?

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Published on: Jul 5, 2020

Last updated on: Jul 21, 2023

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Are you struggling to construct compelling arguments and effectively communicate your ideas? 

Do you find the different types of arguments and logical fallacies confusing? 

As students, it's crucial to master the art of persuasive communication and understand various argument types.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore types of arguments in-depth, along with examples. We'll also delve into common logical fallacies to help you identify and avoid them. 

By the end, you'll have the knowledge and skills to construct strong arguments and critically evaluate information.

So why wait? Let’s dig in!

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Types of Arguments

There are three basic types of arguments in writing that you will encounter while persuading others or presenting your point of view. 

Let’s discuss each type in detail.

Classical Argument

The classical or Aristotelian argument is a form of argument developed by the Greek philosopher Aristotle. 

The goal is to convince the audience using strategies about a certain side of the issue. The classical argument uses ethos, pathos, and logos in the most persuasive way possible.

If you are drafting an essay using the classical argument, use the following format to structure your essay. 

  1. Introduction: Capture the audience's attention, and provide context.
  2. Thesis Statement: Concisely state the main argument or claim.
  3. Background Information: Establish context, and provide relevant details.
  4. Main Points: Present supporting reasons with evidence.
  5. Counter Arguments and Rebuttal: Address opposing viewpoints, and provide counterarguments.
  6. Conclusion: Restate the thesis, summarize the main points, and provide a ‘Call-to-Action’ to leave a lasting impression.

Rogerian Argument

A Rogerian argument is an argument type that focuses on finding a middle ground between the audience and the writer. In many situations, the audience doesn’t fully agree with the writer’s argument. 

This argument time is extremely convincing and helps the writer understand his own biases. 

The Rogerian argument strategy structures your document in the following way:

  1. Introduction: Establish the issue and the importance of respectful communication.
  2. Understanding Opposing Views: Demonstrate empathy and understanding of opposing perspectives.
  3. Statement of Position: Present your own argument objectively and respectfully.
  4. Exploration of Shared Ground: Identify areas of agreement or shared values.
  5. Presentation of Evidence and Support: Provide evidence that supports your position while emphasizing shared values.
  6. Addressing Counterarguments: Respectfully address and respond to counterarguments without direct refutation.
  7. Conclusion: Emphasize the importance of respectful dialogue and suggest further steps for collaboration.

Toulmin Argument

A Toulmin argument is a structure developed by Stephen Toulmin to analyze arguments.

This argument type is used when there are no clear or absolute solutions to the issues and problems. It takes into account the complexity of the situations.

According to the Toulmin method, there are seven elements to analyze and present the argument:

Let’s discuss them in detail.

  1. Claim: Present a clear and concise thesis statement.
  2. Data: Provide evidence, examples, or statistics that support the claim is true.
  3. Warrant: Explain the logical reasoning that connects the data to the claim.
  4. Backing: Offer additional support or evidence for the warrant.
  5. Qualifier: Acknowledge limitations or conditions under which the claim is valid.
  6. Rebuttal: Address potential counterarguments or opposing viewpoints.
  7. Conclusion: Restate the claim and summarize key points, reinforcing the argument's strength.

Types of Arguments in Critical Thinking 

Critical thinking involves analyzing and evaluating arguments. 

Various types of arguments are encountered in this process, each with its own characteristics and logical structure. 

Here are some types of arguments commonly encountered in critical thinking, along with examples:

Analogical Arguments 

Analogical arguments draw comparisons between similar situations or cases to support a conclusion. 

They rely on the assumption that if two or more situations share relevant similarities, they are likely to have similar characteristics or outcomes. 

For example:

Premise: The structure of an atom is similar to the solar system.

Conclusion: Therefore, just as the solar system is stable, the atom is also stable.

Causal Arguments 

Causal arguments aim to establish cause-and-effect relationships. They propose that one event or factor is responsible for bringing about another. 

Causal arguments often rely on empirical evidence, statistical data, or logical reasoning to support the claim of causation.

For example: 

Premise: Smoking cigarettes increases the risk of developing lung cancer.

Conclusion: Therefore, smoking cigarettes causes lung cancer.

Statistical Arguments 

Statistical arguments utilize statistical data or probabilities to support a conclusion. They draw on the principles of probability and inferential statistics to make claims about a population based on a sample. 

For example:

Premise: 80% of students who study consistently perform well on exams.

Conclusion: Therefore, studying consistently increases the likelihood of performing well on exams.

Moral Arguments 

Moral arguments employ ethical principles or values to support a claim or position. They appeal to moral reasoning and address questions of right and wrong, justice, and fairness. 

For example:

Premise: Killing innocent individuals is morally wrong.

Conclusion: Therefore, the death penalty is morally wrong.

Pragmatic Arguments

Pragmatic arguments focus on practicality, usefulness, or pragmatic considerations. They weigh the costs, benefits, and practical consequences of different courses of action. 

Pragmatic arguments often involve considerations of efficiency, feasibility, societal impact, or individual well-being.

For example:

Premise: Using public transportation reduces traffic congestion and air pollution.

Conclusion: Therefore, it is pragmatic to use public transportation.

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Types of Arguments in Philosophy 

In philosophy, various types of arguments are used to explore and analyze different aspects of knowledge. 

Here are some of the key types of arguments used in philosophy:

Deductive Arguments 

Deductive arguments in philosophy follow the principles of deductive reasoning. 

These arguments aim to establish conclusions that necessarily follow from the given premises. If the premises are true and the logical structure of the argument is valid, the conclusion must also be true. 

Deductive arguments play a fundamental role in formal logic and are used extensively in philosophical debates.

Example: 

Premise 1: All humans are mortal.

Premise 2: Socrates is a human.

Conclusion: Therefore, Socrates is mortal.

Inductive Arguments 

Inductive arguments in philosophy rely on observations, evidence, or patterns to draw general conclusions. These arguments reason from specific instances or data to broader generalizations. 

Unlike deductive arguments, inductive arguments provide probabilistic support rather than absolute certainty. 

Inductive reasoning is common in scientific inquiries and empirical investigations.

Example:

Premise 1: Every observed swan so far is white.

Conclusion: Therefore, all swans are white.

Abductive Arguments 

Abductive arguments are employed to propose plausible explanations for observed phenomena. 

These arguments involve generating hypotheses or explanations that best account for the available evidence. 

The goal is to identify the most reasonable or likely explanation, even if it cannot be proven definitively. Abductive reasoning aids in hypothesis formation and theory building.

Example:

Observation: The grass is wet outside.

Hypothesis: It rained last night.

Teleological Arguments 

Teleological arguments, also referred to as arguments from design, explore the existence and purposeful order in the world. 

These arguments suggest that the complexity, order, and apparent design in nature indicate the existence of a smart creator or designer.

Teleological arguments often draw upon examples from biology, cosmology, or fine-tuning of physical constants.

Example:

Premise 1: The universe exhibits incredible complexity and order.

Premise 2: Such complexity and order imply the existence of an intelligent designer.

Conclusion: Therefore, there must be a God or intelligent creator.

Ethical Arguments 

Ethical arguments delve into moral principles, values, and ethical theories to support claims about what is right, wrong, or morally permissible. 

These arguments explore questions of ethics, moral duties, and normative judgments.

Ethical arguments often involve discussions on consequentialism, deontology, virtue ethics, or ethical relativism.

Example:

Premise 1: Causing unnecessary harm to sentient beings is morally wrong.

Premise 2: Factory farming causes unnecessary harm to animals.

Conclusion: Therefore, factory farming is morally wrong.

Types of Argument Fallacies 

In critical thinking, fallacies refer to common errors or flaws in reasoning that can weaken or invalidate an argument.

By understanding these different types of argument fallacies, individuals can identify and avoid faulty reasoning.

Here are several types of argument fallacies, along with detailed explanations and examples:

Ad Hominem 

The ad hominem fallacy involves attacking the person making an argument instead of addressing the substance of their argument.

It attempts to undermine the credibility or character of the person rather than engaging with their ideas.

Example:

Person A: "I believe we should invest in renewable energy to reduce our carbon footprint."

Person B: "Why should we listen to you? You're not even an expert in the field."

In this example, Person B dismisses Person A's argument by attacking their expertise instead of addressing the merits.

Appeal to Ignorance 

The appeal to ignorance fallacy occurs when the absence of evidence is used as evidence for a claim.

It asserts that something must be true or false simply because it hasn't been proven otherwise.

Example:

"There is no scientific evidence disproving the existence of unicorns, so they must exist."

In this example, the lack of evidence disproving unicorns is used as a basis for asserting their existence. This is a fallacious appeal to ignorance.

Appeal to Authority 

The appeal to authority fallacy relies on citing an authority figure or expert to support an argument. 

Even if the authority figure's expertise lies outside the relevant domain or if there is disagreement among experts.

Example:

"Dr. Smith, a famous actor, recommends this miracle product for weight loss, so it must be effective."

In this example, the appeal to authority uses the celebrity status of Dr. Smith to endorse a weight loss product, despite the lack of relevant expertise in the field.

False Dilemma Fallacy 

The false dilemma fallacy is also known as the black-or-white fallacy.

It presents a limited set of options or viewpoints as the only possibilities. When, in reality, there are more alternatives or shades of gray.

Example:

"Either you're with us, or you're against us."

In this example, the false dilemma fallacy presents only two extreme options, disregarding the possibility of alternative perspectives or nuanced positions.

Straw Man 

The straw man fallacy involves misrepresenting or distorting someone's argument to make it easier to attack or refute. 

Instead of addressing the actual argument, a weaker or distorted version is attacked.

Example:

Person A: "I think we should invest more in public education to improve student outcomes."

Person B: "So, you're saying we should just throw unlimited money at schools without any accountability?"

In this example, Person B misrepresents Person A's argument by implying they advocate for unlimited funding without accountability. This is not what Person A originally stated.

Slippery Slope Fallacy 

The slippery slope fallacy suggests that a small, initial action will inevitably lead to a series of increasingly negative consequences. 

Without sufficient evidence to support the causal link between the actions.

Example:

"If we allow same-sex marriage, next people will start marrying animals, and eventually society will collapse."

In this example, the slippery slope fallacy suggests an unsupported chain of events. It implies that allowing same-sex marriage will lead to extreme and unfounded consequences.

Hasty Generalization 

The hasty generalization fallacy occurs when a conclusion is drawn based on insufficient or unrepresentative evidence. 

It involves making a broad generalization about a whole group based on a limited sample.

Example:

"I met two people from Country X, and they were rude. Therefore, all people from Country X must be rude."

In this example, the fallacy draws a sweeping conclusion about an entire group based on the behavior of only two individuals.

Circular Argument 

The circular argument is also known as circular reasoning. 

This is a fallacy where the conclusion is restated or presupposed in the premises, resulting in circular or tautological reasoning.

Example:

"God exists because the Bible says so, and we know the Bible is true because it is the word of God."

In this example, the circular argument relies on assuming the truth of the conclusion in the premise and vice versa. Without providing independent evidence.

Red Herring Fallacy 

The red herring fallacy involves diverting attention from the main issue or topic by introducing an irrelevant or unrelated point or argument.

Example:

"We should focus on combating climate change."

"But what about the economy? We can't afford to prioritize the environment over economic growth."

In this example, the red herring fallacy deflects attention from the discussion about climate change by introducing an unrelated concern about the economy.

Appeal to Hypocrisy 

The appeal to hypocrisy fallacy attempts to discredit an argument or position by pointing out inconsistencies in the person making the argument. Rather than addressing the argument itself.

Example:

"You argue for ethical eating, but I saw you eating a hamburger last week. Your argument is invalid."

In this example, the appeal to hypocrisy disregards the merits of the argument by attacking the person's behavior instead.

Causal Fallacy 

The causal fallacy is also known as the post hoc fallacy. It assumes that one event follows another. 

The first event caused the second event without considering other potential causes or factors.

Example:

"I wore my lucky socks and won the game. Therefore, wearing my lucky socks made me win."

In this example, the causal fallacy assumes a cause-and-effect relationship between wearing lucky socks and winning. Without considering other factors that may have contributed to the outcome.

Fallacy of Sunk Costs 

The fallacy of sunk costs occurs when past investments (time, money, or effort) are used as a reason to continue with a course of action. 

Even when it no longer serves the present or future interests.

Example:

"I've already spent so much money on this project; I can't quit now."

In this example, the fallacy of sunk costs ignores the current situation and decision-making based on past investments. Even if continuing with the project may not be rational or beneficial.

Equivocation 

Equivocation is a fallacy that relies on the use of ambiguous or multiple meanings of a word or phrase to mislead or confuse the audience. 

It involves shifting the meaning of a term within an argument to support a particular conclusion.

Example:

"Only man is rational. No woman is a man. Therefore, no woman is rational."

In this example, equivocation occurs by shifting the meaning of "man" from referring to all humans to exclusively referring to males. This leads to an invalid and biased conclusion.

Appeal to Pity Fallacy 

The appeal to pity fallacy is also known as the argument from pity or the ad misericordiam fallacy. 

It seeks to evoke sympathy or pity from the audience in order to support a claim. It relies on emotional manipulation rather than sound reasoning or evidence.

Example:

"I know I failed the exam, but please give me a passing grade. My dog just passed away, and I've been going through a difficult time."


In this example, the appeal to pity attempts to gain special treatment or leniency. 

It is done by appealing to the sympathy generated from personal circumstances. Rather than addressing academic performance.

Bandwagon Fallacy 

The bandwagon fallacy is also known as the appeal to popularity or the argumentum ad populum fallacy. 

It suggests that an idea or action is valid or desirable simply because it is popular or widely accepted.

Example:

"Everyone is using this new fitness product. You should too if you want to be in shape."

In this example, the bandwagon fallacy assumes that the popularity of a fitness product automatically makes it effective or necessary. 

It disregards individual needs or other viable options.

How to Structure an Argument for an Essay?

Having a strong argument and good supporting information is worthless if the argument is not structured. When drafting a formal document, it is essential to shape your statement to make it effective.

The following are the professional steps used in structuring an argument:

  1. Come Up With an Interesting Topic - For your document, choose an arguable and strong topic. Your topic should motivate the audience to read your entire essay. Drafting an argumentative essay will become more comfortable if your topic is debatable or controversial.
  2. Identify the Type of Claim - When drafting an argumentative essay, five general claims can be selected. Choose a claim that suits your purpose:
  • Fact - Is your argument true or false?
  • Definition - Meaning of the argument
  • Value - Importance and significance of the argument
  • Causes and effects of the problem
  • Policy - What to do to solve the problem?
  •  Decide on the argument type - Whether it is Toulmin, deductive and inductive, etc. Then decide the structure you want to follow in shaping your essay. 
  • Consult credible and authentic sources to gather information for your deductive, inductive argument, etc. 
  • Draft an essay outline and organize the gathered data accordingly.
  • Draft an introduction with a strong claim or premises
  • Make sure to develop a logical claim.
  • Write the conclusion that perfectly goes with the argument type you chose for the essay.
  • In conclusion, understanding the different types of arguments and fallacies is essential for developing strong critical thinking skills. 

    By recognizing the structure and characteristics of various argument types, students can effectively communicate their ideas and persuade others.

    If you still feel stuck, experts suggest getting professional help from qualified essay writers. 

    CollegeEssay.org is the best writing service that provides custom services for all your academic assignments. 

    So why wait? Try our AI essay generator today and save time!

    Cathy A.

    WRITTEN BY

    Cathy A. (Literature, Marketing)

    For more than five years now, Cathy has been one of our most hardworking authors on the platform. With a Masters degree in mass communication, she knows the ins and outs of professional writing. Clients often leave her glowing reviews for being an amazing writer who takes her work very seriously.

    For more than five years now, Cathy has been one of our most hardworking authors on the platform. With a Masters degree in mass communication, she knows the ins and outs of professional writing. Clients often leave her glowing reviews for being an amazing writer who takes her work very seriously.

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