Essays and Arguments, Section Nine
[This text, which has been prepared by Ian Johnston of Malaspina University-College, Nanaimo, BC, is in the public domain and may be used, in whole or in part, without permission and without charge, released May 2000]
9.0 Paragraph Functions
In the previous sections we considered some basic properties of paragraphs, particularly the introductory paragraph(s), the concluding paragraphs, and the structure of paragraphs in the middle of an argument. In this section, we continue to look at paragraphs, but in a more complex way. The material here will be particularly relevant to organizing and writing a longer research paper.
9.1 The Basic Functions of Paragraphs
In the previous section, we stressed that any one paragraph can make only a single point, if we wish to maintain the unity and coherence of that paragraph. Another way of saying the same thing is to state that any one paragraph can carry out only a single function. Once you have decided on what you want that paragraph to do, then it becomes easier to fit it into the developing logic of the entire argument.
To develop a fuller understanding of paragraphs as having particular functions, here is a list of all the things which paragraphs in an argument can do.
1. Introduction to an Argument: We have already discussed this in some detail earlier in this handbook (the subject-focus-thesis paragraph at the start). You should be very clear about the key function this sort of a paragraph carries out.
2. Definition: The paragraph can offer an extended definition of a key term or series of terms, of the sort we have considered earlier in this handbook.
3. Narration: A paragraph can serve the function of telling a story, a chronological series of details which will clarify for the reader facts important for the argument.
4. Physical Description: A paragraph can describe at length a particular scene or object, in order to clarify important details for the reader.
5. Illustration: A paragraph can provide a single detailed example at some length (of a person, a sample of a text, and so on).
6. Analysis: A paragraph can serve the function of breaking a complex topic up into its component parts so that the reader understands just what is involved in the larger term (e.g., the paragraph might analyze the various parts of a nuclear reactor or, to take something more bewildering, the administrative structure of a college).
7. Comparison: A paragraph can compare two different objects or characters or styles under a common heading.
8. Argument from Causes to Effects: A paragraph can make the argument that certain factors will lead to certain results (e.g., how the present abortion law affects the lives of pregnant women for the worse).
9. Argument from Effects to Causes: A paragraph can make the argument that certain effects have particular causes (e.g., Hamlet behaves the way he does because he is terrified of his father).
10. Argumentative Assertion: A paragraph can present a case for an argumentative assertion that does not fit one of the above categories (as we outlined in the previous section).
11. Conclusion to an Argument: A paragraph can serve to conclude an argument (with or without recommendations included), as we considered at the end of Section 8.
It's important you review this list carefully. It tells you the various tools you have for structuring your argument. Notice that some of these paragraphs (especially the first six and the last) do not usually have an argumentative function; instead they define, clarify, illustrate, or in other ways supplement the argument (i.e., present information necessary to follow the argument).
Some of these tools have designated places and very specific functions (e.g., the Introduction and the Conclusion). Others you might want to use in different places, or you might not want to use them at all.
9.2 Exercise in Topic Sentences Announcing the Function of a Paragraph
Below is a list of topic sentences. Indicate what function you, as a reader, are expecting the rest of the paragraph to serve. You can refer to the numbered list above.
1. First, it is important we all understand exactly what acid rain is.
2. The Ministry of Forests is a complex bureaucracy made up of a large number of different divisions.
3. The present ministry regulations create some severe problems for the sports fisherman in BC.
4. Of all the coastal native people, the Haida have the proudest history.
5. There are a number of features of the style of this poem which contribute to a sense of emotional tension.
6. Consider the case of Anita Jones, a chronic user of heroin who has been asking for help for years.
7. To some extent we can see the hero's frustration as the direct result of the home environment in which he lives.
8. Before considering this point in more detail, we should clarify precisely what the present law concerning adoption in BC states.
9. To understand the political sensitivity of west coast oil drilling, one needs to know something about the environment and communities of the Gulf Islands.
10. Just who was Georges Cuvier?
11. In British Columbia there are a number of reasons for the widespread dissatisfaction with the federal government's attitude to Quebec.
12. Hamlet's conversation with the ghost provides some important insights into the prince's emotional nature.
13. The use of Ritalin to treat attention deficit disorder creates special problems, not least of which is the expense.
14. What exactly is this new wonder pill Viagra?
15. The description of the setting in the story very quickly establishes a mood of anxious expectation.
9.3 Organizing an Essay by Paragraph Function
Once you become familiar with the range of functions paragraphs can carry out, then planning the essay or research paper takes on a more sophisticated character. Planning the argument then becomes a series of answers to the questions "What do I want to do at this stage?" "How can I clarify or strengthen the argument at this stage?" "Are there some useful ways I can vary or enliven or enrich the argument?" Thus, planning the structure of the argument becomes a series of choices.
We have already reviewed some of these functions in earlier sections. For example, early in the essay or research paper (usually at the very start) you will require an Introduction, which defines the argument (subject, focus, thesis), and you will often want to follow that with one or two Definition or Narration or Physical Description paragraphs to provide the necessary background material, before you start the argument. In fact, thinking in terms of the function of paragraphs in an argument, you will generally need to do something like this (at the start):
Additional Background Information (Narration)
Argumentative Point 1
Argumentative Point 2, and so on.
What is happening in such a structure is that after the Introduction, you are seeking to answer the question: "What do I need to tell the reader so that she can understand the argument?" In the above outline, the writer has decided to define the key terms and has added an additional paragraph to place the argument in a historical context (to give the reader the details of the story necessary to grasp the argument).
However, as we shall see in this section, there are some interesting ways to modify this basic manner of starting an argumentative paper.
9.4 Paragraphs of Illustration, Narration, and Description
We have already talked about using paragraphs of narration and physical description and definition as part of the introduction to the argument. Sometimes it is preferable to hold back on such background information until the appropriate point in the argument (i.e., when the reader first needs it). In other words, instead of giving the reader right at the start of the argument all the background facts he is going to need to understand every part of your argument, you reserve some of the information that you might put in the essay as part of the introduction and insert it where it is first needed.
Inserting Paragraphs of Narration, Description, or Analysis in the Middle of An Argument
Sometimes in the middle of the argument you may wish to pause in order to provide additional background explanatory material before continuing. Normally, this will occur just before you move to a point that requires such information (provided you have not already given all the necessary details in the introduction).
Suppose, for example, you are writing an essay on Aristotle's Ethics, and, in the middle of that argument, you wish to consider his criticisms of Plato's Theory of Forms. Since you cannot assume that the reader of the essay will be familiar with Plato's theory, you wish to devote a paragraph to outlining in summary form Plato's theory before continuing the argument with Aristotle's treatment of Plato's ideas.
Similarly, in an essay on, say, immigration policy, you might in the middle of the argument wish to discuss the experience of the Jewish immigrants to Manitoba early in the twentieth century. Before discussing the details of their lives in Canada, however, you want to interrupt the argument to make sure everyone understands some important facts about this immigration.
Here is an example of such an insertion into the middle of an argument. Here the thesis of the essay is arguing that the death of Alexander the Great was an event of great political significance. The introductory paragraphs have been omitted.
The first crisis provoked by the unexpected death of Alexander in 323 BC was confusion in the leadership of the Macedonian armies, largely because the traditional method of determining a successor did not work. (Paragraph argues this point)
Of all the generals who rose to sudden prominence at this juncture one of the most interesting was Ptolemy, son of Lagus. His association with Alexander went back many years. (Paragraph goes on to give biographical details of Ptolemy; it is not advancing the argument, but it is making sure that the reader has the necessary background details to understand who Ptolemy was)
Ptolemy's immediate response to the crisis was a decision that the most important part of the Empire was Egypt. He was probably right. At the time, Egypt. . . . (Paragraph goes on to describe some background details of Egypt; here again, it is not continuing the argument, but it is providing necessary background details)
To gain a hold on this prized territory, Ptolemy carried out a bold and aggressive military strategy. (Paragraph resumes the argument by trying to persuade the reader that Ptolemy's tactics were effective)
Pay close attention to what is going on here in the second and third paragraphs above. The writer has stopped the argument to provide background information: in the first, some biographical details of Ptolemy, in the second, some geographical and economic facts about Egypt. Once these have been dealt with, the essay resumes the argument.
This is an important and useful technique, especially in longer research papers. You should use it with care, however, making sure that you introduce only narrative or geographical or analytical details which are essential to the argument. Do not use it simply to pad the essay (i.e., to add irrelevant material).
If, in this example, the biographical details of Ptolemy are not really necessary, but you want to make a brief mention of who he was, you can often do that most conveniently in a footnote.
Make sure you understand this technique; it is a really helpful way to keep the reader fully informed about all the necessary details without having to provide them all at the start or trying to insert them into the middle of argumentative paragraphs.
Inserting a Detailed Example into the Argument
A really useful way of making an argument more interesting and bringing it a lot closer to the reader is to stop the argument somewhere in the middle to dwell in detail upon a single specific illustration or example.
For instance, suppose you are presenting an argument on the unfairness of the present system of distributing welfare in BC. You have made your first and second argumentative points (that the system is slow and that it discriminates unfairly against some people). Before moving onto your next argumentative point, you might want to insert a paragraph in which you describe in detail a particular example. The topic sentence might read something like this, "To see these problems at first hand, one has only to consider the case of Terry Jackson." The paragraph will go on to describe Terry Jackson's situation in detail, so as to illustrate the points you have made previously in the argument.
Or, to take another example, suppose you are writing an argumentative interpretation of a work of literature. You have made one or two argumentative points. You might now insert into the argument a very specific example from the text which will illustrate the points you have been making (i.e., a detailed look at one particular passage in the text).
Here are some more examples of topic sentences which introduce illustrative paragraphs in which the writer is going to look in detail at a particular example.
(The opening series of paragraphs discusses important elements in the new style of poetry introduced by Imagism, arguing that these are significant changes)
One can get an excellent sense of what these new views of poetic style meant in practice by looking at "Oread" by H.D., a well-known representative of the new style. (Paragraph goes on to discuss how particular details of this poem illustrate the points she has been making in the previous paragraphs)
(The opening series of paragraphs discusses important defects in the federal government's strategy in the debates on the Meech Lake Accord)
These various misjudgments on the part of the Mulroney Conservatives created some embarrassing incidents. What happened at a town meeting in Fort Jackson, a small town in Alberta, is typical. (Paragraph goes on to provide narrative details to illustrate what has been said already).
Notice what these paragraphs will be doing: they will provide a close look at a single illustration. Thus, they do not contribute very much to the evidence you are putting into the argument (for the illustration is only one case). However, if the illustration is a good one and you discuss it well, it will bring your argument alive and will enable you to consolidate the points you have already made (a particularly important strategy in essays on public issues about which there are strong feelings). Thus, used effectively, an illustration paragraph can make your overall case very much more persuasive. One word of caution, however: you should not overuse this technique, unless the purpose of the paper is a series of case studies.
Here are a few more examples (in brief).
Example A (from an essay arguing that Descartes's argument is problematic but interesting)
Descartes' argument creates difficulties, however, when he tries to connect the "proven" world of the mind with the external world of the body. (Difficulties discussed and defined)
To illustrate this difficulty, consider the following passage in detail. (A detailed examination of a particular spot in Descartes's text which illustrates in his own argument the point made in the previous paragraph)
This difficulty aside, however, we need to note the great strength of Descartes logic in approaching questions of knowledge in this way. (Argument resumes on the next point).
Example B (from an essay arguing that the Chipko movement is a significant indication of the power of uneducated women to affect government policy)
The Chipko movement won support among a wide variety of women because it addressed their concerns directly. (Paragraph goes on to discuss the appeal of the movement).
To appreciate this point more fully, we can examine the case of AB. (Paragraph goes on to illustrate the point in the previous paragraph by a particular case study of a single woman involved).
But the movement was significant for reasons other than its popularity. (Paragraph resumes the argument with the next point).
Example C (from an essay arguing that Thoreau's Walden is a fine example of American Romanticism)
Thoreau's attitude to nature is clearly what we might characterize as intensely Romantic and spiritual. (Paragraph goes on to explain what these terms mean).
This point is made over and over again in Thoreau's text. The following passage brings out eloquently his characteristically enthusiastic sense of the spiritual value of the woods around his house. (Paragraph goes on to examine in detail a particular example).
But there's more to his views than this. For there is also a shrewd Yankee at work in his imagination which creates a different perspective. (Paragraph goes on to consider the next point)
This quality is nowhere more evident that in Thoreau's attitude to the railway. (Passage goes on to illustrate the point of the previous paragraph)
Example D (in an essay arguing that a particular legal judgement was correct)
An important principle, crucial to the prosecution's case, was the controversial issue of family assets. (Paragraph goes on to discuss why this was important).
The importance of this point emerged clearly in the summing up of one of the judges, in the following remarks. (Paragraph goes on in detail to examine one portion of the remarks of one judge)
Another determining factor in the judgment was the definition of work on the farm. (Paragraph resumes the argument with a new point).
Notice again in these examples how the illustrative paragraph works. It follows a paragraph which is making an argumentative assertion and serves to provide an in-depth analysis of a particular chunk of the text, case study, or personal example. The illustrative paragraph thus does not advance an argument, for it is introducing nothing new. Its purpose is to consolidate a point already made, to make sure that the reader understands the point by being confronted with a detailed look at a very specific example.
It is possible to use more than one illustrative paragraph to consolidate a point. This is particularly common in essays which are interpreting literary styles or literary characters. Notice the following example.
Hamlet is clearly a very insecure character, uneasy about the public world of Elsinore. (Paragraph goes on to argue this point, using small pieces of evidence).
We can see this aspect of his character very clearly in his reaction to his situation in 1.2. (Paragraph gives a detailed look at parts of this scene).
Another place where Hamlet's social insecurity manifests itself is in the scene immediately before the play within the play. (Paragraph goes on to show how parts of this scene illuminate the point introduced two paragraphs before).
In private, however, Hamlet's character is very different. (Paragraph goes on to discuss a new point).
In the same way, one might offer more than one illustration for any of the argumentative points made above.
While using illustrative paragraphs like this really helps to consolidate and liven up an argumentative point, you should be careful not to overuse it. Remember that detailed discussions of very particular examples really help to illustrate a point and consolidate an opinion, but once the point has been illustrated, the argument is not really helped by multiplying illustrations unnecessarily. So once you think the reader should have grasped the point, move onto to another topic.
Setting Up a Narrative or Descriptive "Hook"
In a longer paper, you can sometimes add variety and interest to the paper by starting with a narrative or descriptive paragraph which draws attention to a particular example in a graphic way and enables you to lead into the introduction after you have grabbed the reader's attention.
Notice the following example; these are the opening paragraphs to an essay on acid rain (the example is fictional, here to illustrate the style):
Paha Lake is situated about fifteen miles north of Sudbury in a beautiful forest. The lake, about ten miles long and half a mile across at its widest, is justly celebrated as one of the most beautiful in the entire region, with moderately steep sides of granite interspersed with lower regions often covered with wild flowers. There are many places on the lake which make good natural campgrounds providing easy access to the water and panoramic views of the much of the shoreline. A visitor today also notices immediately the wonderful clarity of the water, which seems to catch the sun in unusual ways and, when the light is at the right angle, to shimmer invitingly. Only gradually does one get the sense that there is something odd about the scene. At first, there no clear indication what that might be. And then one realizes--there are no birds around, none of the usual crowd of gulls or loons or ducks. And there are no other people, no avid fishermen out for a weekend's adventure. And then the reason dawns: Paha Lake is a dead lake. Its waters support no life at all, because Paha Lake has become one more victim of acid rain.
There are many Paha Lakes in Northern Ontario, and their numbers are increasing every day. Where only a few years ago, in a single afternoon one could catch one's limit of pike, pickerel, lake trout, and bass, there are now no fish at all. The water is too acidic to sustain life. The problem is acid rain, one of the most toxic side effects of our industrial processes. It is slowly killing the life in the forest. We have all heard about acid rain, of course, and we probably know about some of the steps various governments and industries have taken to meet the problem. What we may not realize as urgently as we should is how serious the problem still is and how quickly it is growing in Northern Ontario. In fact, it seems evident that if we do nothing more against the threat than we are presently doing, our provincial Canadian Shield will soon have no fresh water fish; the life which those fish sustain will then leave; and sooner or later the acidic waters will destroy much of the forest life. It is thus imperative that we make dealing with the causes of acid rain in our northern forest a top priority, no matter what the economic cost.
Notice here how the first paragraph does not introduce any argument. It serves to catch the reader's attention with an example. The point of the example is not announced until the last line. Then the writer moves directly into the introductory paragraph, which announces the subject, focus, and thesis. Such an opening paragraph could equally well be a short narrative, designed to arouse the reader's interest, before the main introduction.
This technique of opening an argument with an illustration or narrative is very common in journalism, where the technique is known as the "hook." In many essays you do not have the space to try it, but in longer research papers, you might want to experiment with such an opening.
If you are going to use a narrative or descriptive hook, then make sure you observe the following principles:
1. The "hook" should not be too long. You should be able to present it in a single paragraph. If the "hook" starts getting too long, it will overwhelm the introduction.
2. Try to structure the "hook" so that the main point of the illustration or narrative does not emerge until the very end (as in the above example). That makes it inherently more interesting. The technique loses much of its effect if the reader gets the point of the example in the very first or second sentence.
3. Follow the "hook" immediately with the standard introduction in which you announce the subject, focus, and thesis of the essay in the usual manner (as in the above example).
4. Do not provide more than one narrative or illustrative "hook." If you have a number of examples, select the best one. Remember the purpose of this technique is to arouse the reader's interest, not to carry any of the argument.
9.5 Organizing an Argument in Paragraph Clusters
Once you begin to get a sense of the different functions of paragraphs, you can then start thinking of the argument, not as a series of paragraphs, but rather as a series of paragraph clusters (perhaps with three or four per cluster). Each cluster of paragraphs will be introducing, arguing, and consolidating a single point in the argument. Thus, even in a fairly substantial research paper, the argument will become relatively few separate points (perhaps only two or three), but each one will be presented in a series of paragraphs.
This last point is an important one to remember. An effective argument will generally consist of relatively few points in support of a very clear (and usually narrowly defined) argument. But each point will be presented in some detail in a sequence of paragraphs, so as to be as persuasive as possible. This is an especially important principle for writing research papers.
Here, for example, are two full outlines for a research papers, one on a literary subject and one on a public issue. Notice the particular function of each paragraph.
Research Paper A: The Imagist Movement in Modern Poetry
General Subject: Modern poetry
Focus 1: Imagism
Focus 2: The significance of the stylistic innovations of Imagism
Thesis: Imagism is the most significant development in modern poetry; in fact, this movement marked the start of what has come to be called the modernist movement in English literature, which marked a decisive break with traditional ways of writing poetry.
TS 1: How did this new movement begin? Well, like many artistic movements it started as a small experiment in the hands of few young artists. (Narrative paragraph, giving background historical details to the origin of the term)
TS 2: The most remarkable contributor to these new ideas was a young expatriate American, Ezra Pound. (Narrative paragraph, giving background details of Ezra Pound)
TS 3: Pound and his friends were reacting very strongly against the prevailing styles of popular poetry in England, particularly the Georgian poets. (A paragraph of analysis and definition, providing specific details of the sort of poetry which these young poets found objectionable)
TS 4: In contrast to this style, the new school demanded adherence to a vital new principle, the overriding importance of clear evocative imagery. This was a particularly significant point. (Argument starts here with the first point about Imagism)
TS 5: One can get a sense of what this principle meant in practice by looking closely at the poem "Oread" by HD, a work much admired by the Imagists. (This is an illustration, providing a detailed look at just one short poem in order to consolidate the previous point and make it more interesting)
TS 6: Another, and more immediately startling change was Imagism's rejection of traditional verse forms. (This paragraph continues the argument about the nature of Imagism)
TS 7: Not surprisingly, many readers found the new style difficult, and Imagism drew many hostile and often sarcastic responses from English critics. (This paragraph is acknowledging the opposition--letting those who disliked the new style have a chance to enter the argument)
TS 8: While these objections have some obvious force in the case of many poems, they were answered decisively by the one great poet Imagism produced, T. S. Eliot. Before considering Eliot's contribution, however, it is interesting to consider his origins. (Paragraph breaks the argument to provide some background details of T. S. Eliot)
TS 9: Eliot's early poetic style demonstrated the full power of Imagism in the hands of a great artist. (Paragraph continues the argument by arguing for the quality of Eliot's style)
TS 10 A second vital contribution Eliot made was that he overcame the inherent difficulty of writing a long Imagist poem. (Paragraph continues the argument about the quality of Eliot's poetic style)
TS 11 These qualities in Eliot's early poems culminated in the greatest poem of the century, The Waste Land. (Paragraph offers an analysis of parts of one poem to consolidate the previous points)
TS 12 Eliot's influence was decisive on a series of young poets. (Paragraph provides evidence for this assertion)
TS 13 Even today, long after the death of Eliot and Pound and the other original Imagist poets, the evidence of their revolutionary redefinition of poetic style can be seen in any anthology of modern poetry. (Concluding paragraph, summing up the argument. This might be extended with examples)
Research Paper 2: Modern Medicine and the Law
Subject: Modern Medicine
Focus 1: The Terminally Ill
Focus 2: The Right To Die with an Assisted Suicide
Thesis: We should not alter the legislation concerning assisted suicides, and we should certainly not press for any legislation which might confer on citizens what has been called the "right to die."
TS 1: What exactly do people mean when they encourage us to demand the right to die or the right to die with dignity or the right to an assisted suicide? (Paragraph goes on to define in detail a key element in the argument)
TS 2: To understand this demand in context, we should consider what the law presently states about such matters. (Paragraph goes on to define what current law says on this matter)
TS 3 Before considering just what this law means in practice, we need to clarify what the term right means in law. Many of those demanding the right to die seem unaware of the legal meaning of what they are seeking. (Paragraph goes on to define the concept of a right)
TS 4 Given this legal meaning of the term right, many doctors are justifiably worried about conferring the right to die on citizens generally. (Argument starts here by stressing that any change in the law will make the situation difficult for doctors)
TS 5: In addition, there is the problem of what has been called the "slippery slope." Once we admit legal killing into our hospitals openly, then where will that process end?
TS 6: Many people, however, are not convinced by these arguments. They believe that citizens should have the right to die with dignity. (Paragraph here acknowledges the opposition, by giving the case against the thesis some room in the argument)
TS 7: Supporters of this position often cite the case of Sue Rodriguez, the terminally ill native of Victoria, BC. (Paragraph goes on to provide an illustration of the opposition's point by giving details of a single well known example)
TS 8: But Sue Rodriguez lost her legal battle, and for good reason. The judges were quite correct in their assessment. (Paragraph uses some details of the legal judgement to support the thesis)
TS 9: But many do not agree with this decision. They point to the example of Holland, where assisted suicide is legal. (Paragraph gives the opposition another hearing, this time using examples from another country)
TS 10: Those who make this argument, however, overlook some of the problems of this policy which the Dutch themselves have admitted. (Paragraph answers the opposition's point in the previous paragraph)
TS 11: What complicates this issue is a matter no one wishes to discuss openly, the fact that every day in Canada, doctors and families do make decisions about assisting death. It is not the case that people with a powerful wish to die never get the assistance they crave. (Paragraph discusses this point about the real situation in the hospitals)
TS 12: However, the existence of this practice is insufficient reason for establishing a legal process which must be followed in every case. (Paragraph argues why the present situation should not be changed)
TS 13: Concluding paragraph, summing up the argument and looking ahead.
Research Paper C: An Essay on William James's The Varieties of Religious Experience
General Subject: William James's The Varieties of Religious Experience
Focus 1: The value of James's book
Focus 2: The importance of the message and the style of argument
Thesis: James's Varieties of Religious Experience is a valuable book because it not only explores religion is a very meaningful way but also redefines the nature of philosophy.
TS 1: One of the great strengths of James's case is his firmly empirical base which creates a basis for this views on a host of particular examples. (Paragraph evaluates James's empirical method).
TS 2: What makes this work so effectively is that James's definition of religion brings with it no restricting assumptions. (Paragraph makes the second important point about James's argument).
TS 3: Some critics have contested this point, arguing that James's definition of religion is too closely patterned on his Protestant background. (Paragraph acknowledges the opposition)
TS 4: There is obviously some plausibility in this point, but to concede it does not damage the strength of James's method. (Paragraph answers the opposition)
TS 5: Others have pointed out that James's all encompassing view of religion commits him to an essentially relativist position and all the philosophical problems which that entails. This is an important criticism. Before we can evaluate it, however, we need to clarify just what is meant by relativism. (Paragraph goes on to define relativism, not advancing the argument, but providing a necessary definition).
TS 6: Given this sense of relativism, critic MN has argued, James's method is suspiciously feeble. (Paragraph goes on to examine critic MN's argument against James).
TS 7: The basis of MN's sense of James's weakness can be best illustrated in the following passage. (Paragraph illustrates the previous point by looking at one very short part of MN's argument).
TS 8: This is a grievous charge, but it misrepresents James's main point about value. (Paragraph answers the points made by MN and reviewed in the previous two paragraphs).
TS 9: This discussion of James's sense of value brings us to the heart of his method, the system of thinking he calls Pragmatism. This term was first put into philosophical debates by Charles Pierce (Paragraph offers a historical and definition paragraph to make sure the reader understands what is meant by the term Pragmatism).
TS 10: James, in his other works, repeatedly seeks to give us a clear sense of this term. (Paragraph goes on to define the term Pragmatism in terms of what James has said about it).
TS 11: With this understanding of Pragmatism in mind, we can see why the charge of relativism is not entirely accurate. (Paragraph continues the refutation of relativism by reference to the definitions of Pragmatism given in the previous paragraphs).
TS 12: In fact, if we examine this concept of Pragmatism more closely, especially as James discusses it in The Varieties of Religious Experience, we can see that it applies to much more than a study of religion. James is seeking to redefine the philosophic enterprise. (Paragraph goes on the discuss how James's use of the term in the text is significant in terms of how one conducts philosophy).
TS 13: Not surprisingly, many philosophers have found this approach to philosophy unacceptable for a number of reasons. For example, XY points out what he considers a basic flaw in James's position. (Paragraph goes on to outline some of the major objection to the Pragmatic approach)
TS 14: A further objection comes from another quarter. (Paragraph outlines a second major objection to Pragmatism of the sort James practices).
TS 15: However, these objections fail to take into account James's views on the nature of dogmatic assertions about the truth. (Paragraph answers the objections raised in the previous two paragraphs about James's method).
TS 16: In fact, if we look very closely at one section of James's argument we can see that he has already anticipated and answered some of these points. (Paragraph illustrates the point made in the previous one by a very close look at a particular section of James's text).
The important point to notice in these outlines is the way in which the writers use a mixture of functions, mixing argumentative paragraphs advancing the thesis with paragraphs acknowledging the opposition, paragraphs providing illustrations, definitions, and narrative backgrounds. These papers will be quite long (probably about 3000 words), but they do not make a great number of different points. However, they really go into detail about the points which they do mention.
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