Research Writing

What is counterargument How to use Example

The counterargument is a fundamental element in dissertation texts, such as the compositions required in most entrance exams, in the National High School Examination (Enem) and public competitions, and in monographs commonly presented as a university course conclusion work.

This is intended to present different and opposite points of view to those presented as an argument. That is, a challenge to the central proposal of a text. In the case of a scientific essay, the author presents different ideas, other opinions on a subject, as a counter-argument. 

What is counterargument?

In general, the counter-argumentation consists of a contrary response to the central argument of a text . This element is presented in the development of an article or essay essay. Also called an antithesis, it is intended to present ideas and opinions different from those presented in the introduction.

To better understand what this element consists of, it is worth remembering the basic structure of an argumentative-dissertation text: 

  • Introduction (thesis): delimitation of the central theme of the text, usually composed of a single paragraph;
  • Development (antithesis): argument made through the presentation of new ideas and possibilities, usually exposed in three paragraphs; 
  • Conclusion (synthesis): rescue of the text’s point of view by the author and complementation of the ideas, generally presented only a paragraph. 

How to use the counterargument?

As we mentioned, the counterargumentation in a dissertation text must be present in the development of the article , that is, right after the introduction, as a response to the ideas presented in it. 

It is common for this feature to be presented followed by some expressions, such as “even if”, “despite”, “even though”, among others. 

It is important to emphasize that, in order to use a counterargument, the text developed must not be factual, that is, the author must be free to express his position regarding the central subject. This does not mean, however, that they should not base their opinions on a theoretical framework .

Example of counterargument in a scientific article

In order to provide a better understanding of the use of the counter-argument feature in a scientific essay, we present the following example: 

Introduction: The Spiral of Silence is a theory developed by Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann in the 1980s based on observations she made about the electoral process in Germany in 1965. At the time, the Social Democratic parties (PSD) ) and Christian Democrat (CDU-CSU). The phenomenon observed by the researcher is related to opinion polls carried out between December 1964 and September 1965, which presented the following questions: participants’ voting intentions and who they believed would win the suffrage. Throughout the period, voting intentions alternated between the two competing parties, showing, most of the time, a possible victory for the CDU-CSU. 

With regard to voters’ expectations, surveys showed that even those who voted for the PSD believed that the CDU-CSU would win the elections. The last survey, carried out on the eve of the vote, pointed to most of the voting intentions for the CDU-CSU, raising the hypothesis called, in English, the “bandwagoon effect”, that is, “going along with the majority” or “effect of the winning car”.

Development : Over the following years, Noelle-Neumann began to consider silence as a hypothesis to explain what happened in those elections. This means that those who changed their voting intentions on the eve of the vote did so because they did not want to differ from the majority and the reasons for such a decision would be several, including fear of receiving criticism and even being publicly rejected. The author considered that these were influenced by the scenario to remain silent or hide their opinions. 

This phenomenon is directly related to public opinion and can still be seen today in various contexts, especially social and political, which we observe daily mainly on social networks. Many choose not to express their positions publicly in order not to receive criticism, or silence their own wills and opinions in order to maintain identification with the majority. 

Today, however, the presence of niches or “bubbles” in social networks makes it possible for people to express their opinions among peers, that is, to share their thoughts with others who think the same way and, therefore, would not reject or push them away. 

However, such a phenomenon can occur even within these “tribes” existing on the internet regarding different subjects, although there is a common theme that unites the members of a group. An example of this can be the diverse opinions that a community that defends feminism divides regarding the legalization of abortion. While a portion of feminists think that this should be legalized, others may not agree and, therefore, remain silent in order to remain in the group or not receive criticism from the majority. 

Conclusion: The effect of the spiral of silence, studied by Noelle-Neumann in the 1980s, can still be observed in several spheres. However, the multiplicity and plurality of opinions that the internet and social networks allow, reduces this effect precisely because of the existence of “tribes” that share the same opinion. Which does not mean that the phenomenon cannot occur even within these niches regarding other subjects.

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