Rebuttals Examples For An Essay

 counterargument & rebuttal

A counterargument is an argument (point/reason/view/evidence) that your opponent would make.

A rebuttal is when you respond directly to your opponent’s argument/point to explain/show how/why they are wrong.

strategies for rebuttal

There are many different ways that you can rebut someone’s argument.   Take a look at the example below. 
If your argument was:    “We should get a cat.”
And your parents’ counterargument was:  “But your sister Susie is allergic to cats.” 

Here are some rebuttal strategies you could use: 

1.    Point out the flaws [errors] in the counterargument
Ex.  Well, I heard you say that Susie is allergic, but there’s actually a problem with that because Lisa was around a dog yesterday and she was fine. 

2.    Agree with the counterargument but give them a new point/fact that contradicts their argument
Ex.  I agree that’s Lisa’s allergic to cats, but there are some breed of cats that are hypo-allergenic and won’t cause people’s allergies to act up.

3.    Agree with the other side’s support but twist the facts to suit your argument
Ex. I know that you said Lisa is allergic, but couldn’t owning a pet also build up her tolerance?

4.    Make an emotional plea that outweighs their argument (This should be your LAST resort)
Ex. Well you said that we can’t have a pet because of Lisa, but are Lisa’s allergies really as important as rescuing that cat at the shelter who’s trapped in the cage and will be killed if he doesn’t find someone to adopt him?? 

 counterargument & rebuttal in writing

Use the following sentence starters in order to incorporate counterarguments and rebuttals in your writing: 

  • Although...
  • Even though...
  • While it may be true that..., ...
  • In spite of the fact that..., ...
  • Some people may argue...but...
  • A possible concern is...
  • A common counterpoint is...
  • For example, they [proponents/opponents] contend that...
  • Those who believe...claim that...
  • That is an understandable concern, however...
  • This argument is wrong because...
  • Although some people think/believe...others understand...
  • The evidence, however, supports/disproves the argument that...because...

Example #1

Many people argue that bullying is a natural part of society and that the only way to prevent the more serious effects of bullying is to punish those who do it and help the victims. But I believe that this is only doing something after the fact, when we should be working toward prevention. Once bullying has started to the point that it has been brought to adults’ attention, a cycle is in place that is hard to get out of. The bully feels in power and sometimes also ashamed. Sometimes there are others involved, spectators that keep the bullying going by laughing or joining in. And often the victim has internalized some of the messages they have gotten, and feels that no one can help them.

Example #2

E-cigarettes are just as harmful to bystanders' health as regular cigarettes are.  E-cigarette proponents claim that the electronic cigarettes are not toxic to others in the smokers' vicinity because it is just water vapor that is being expelled into the air.  They emphasize the fact that there there is no tobacco or carbon monoxide being released.  Even though this is true, what the proponents fail to mention is the other harmful elements that are in the smoke.  Dr. Glantz, from Prevention magazine, states, "…there are several carcinogens that have been identified so far, and we haven't identified everything that's in these formulas."  Not only does this prove that e-cigarettes expose toxic chemicals to others, but it also shows that e-cigarettes could be even more harmful than we know since not all of the carcinogens have been identified yet!  Why risk the chance of harming others' health by allowing e-cigarettes in buildings?  We should just ban all cigarettes, electronic or not, in order to ensure the safety of innocent bystanders. 

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2 Sample Refutation Paragraphs
(Each these samples have 2-paragraph refutation; some essays may only have a 1 paragraph refutation while other essays, like research papers, may require a much longer refutation)

Charter Schools Vs. Public Schools (School Choice)
By Mark Liles

Thesis: School choice turns out to not only be a bad idea; it’s also a violation of our constitution.

Refutation: ...[Introduce Opposing Arguments] Considering the many challenges facing public schools, it’s understandable that many people would be eager to pursue new options. Supporters of school choice point out that under the current public school system, parents with economic means already exercise school choice by moving from areas with failing or dangerous schools to neighborhoods with better, safer schools. Their argument is that school choice would allow all parents the freedom, regardless of income level, to select the school that provides the best education (Chub and Moe). Schools would then have to compete for students by offering higher academic results and greater safety. Schools unable to measure up to the standards of successful schools would fail and possibly close. [Acknowledge Valid Parts] Activists within the school choice movement can be applauded for seeking to improve public education, but the changes they propose would in fact seriously damage public education as a whole.

[Counter Arguments] One of the biggest dangers of school choice is the power behind large corporations specializing in opening and operating charter schools. Two notable companies are Green Dot, which is the leading public school operator in Los Angeles (Green Dot), and KIPP, which operates 65 schools in 19 different states [KIPP]. These companies represent a growing trend of privatization of public schools by large corporations. It is feared that these corporations could grow to a point that public control of education would be lost. Education policy would be left in the hands of entrepreneurial think tanks, corporate boards of directors, and lobbyists who are more interested in profit than educating students [Miller and Gerson]. [Begin Concluding] Education should be left in the hands of professional educators and not business people with MBAs. To do otherwise is not only dangerous, it defies common sense.

What I liked about this refutation: The writer calmly and clearly outlines the true concerns and reasons why people oppose the opinion. He makes sure the reader knows that he is outlining opposing viewpoints because he gives hints like "Supporters of school choice point out that..." or "Their argument is that...". This is a nice way for readers to be aware of what others think.

Also, towards the end of the first paragraph, and throughout the second paragraph, the writer spends time clearly attacking these opposing views. He helps the reader feel like the opposing views might SEEM good on the surface, but they are indeed not good enough. He helps the reader see this with hints like "One of the biggest dangers of school choice is..." or "It is feared that...". This paragraph particularly draws in any hostile readers; the writer cunningly draws them in by complimenting their views when he says "Activists within the school choice movement can be applauded for seeking to improve public education," but he immediately points out the flaws, saying that " the changes they propose would in fact seriously damage public education as a whole." Complimenting the opposing argument really invites all your hesitant readers; they’re not threatened, and they’re now more willing to listen to the arguments.

Finally, at the end of the refutation, there is a clear conclusion.

Safe Traveler Cards
Taken from College Writers pg. 733-734

........[Introduce Opposing Arguments] As attractive as Safe Traveler Cards or national ID cards are, they are not without drawbacks. For one thing, as Easterbrook notes, these cards would expedite security procedures only for travelers who do not mind volunteering such information to obtain a card. Moreover they would not prevent passengers with "clean" backgrounds from bringing weapons or explosives on board, as was the case in the September 11 attacks. Perhaps the biggest drawback is that some people believe that these cards would deprive people of their privacy and that for this reason, their disadvantages outweigh their advantages (168).

........However, there are many who disagree with these contentions. [Acknowledge Valid Parts] While national ID cards could lessen a person's anonymity and privacy, [Counter Argument] this is a small loss that would be offset by a great increase in personal security. To Dershowitz--a self proclaimed civil libertarian--this tradeoff would be well worth it. According to Dershowitz, the national ID card would be only a little more intrusive than a photo ID card or social security card. Best of all, it would reduce or eliminate the need for racial profiling: "Anyone who had the [national ID] card could be allowed to pass through airports or building security more expeditiously, and anyone who opted out could be examined much more closely" (590). Such cards would enable airport security officials to do instant background checks on everyone. [Begin Concluding] The personal information in the system would stay in the system and never be made public. The only information on the card would be a person's "name, address, photo, and [finger]print" (Dershowitz 591).

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