The dialectic essay is typically used in philosophy to explore the whole range of perspectives about a philosophical stance. Students often tend to endorse one opinion without being able to see the merits of the opposition’s point point of view. For example, if the student is against abortion, he or she may be unable to understand why the opposition feels that the right to choose is important. The dialectic essay forces the student to consider the opposing side’s opinion. Elements of the dialectic essay are also used in the basic argumentative essay because the structure allows the writer to refute the opposition’s argument.
Tone and Audience
The audience of the essay is people who have an opinion about the philosophical issue. Some of the audience may agree with the writer’s thesis, whereas others may espouse the opposing viewpoint. Because the audience has a mix of opinions, the writer should strive for a fair and balanced tone that does not use emotional appeals or inflammatory language.
The basic structure of the dialectic essay has three main parts. In the first portion, the writer presents their opinion, and supports it with sources and examples. After the writer has made their case, they present the opposition’s argument. Finally, they either refute the opposition’s argument, accept part of the opposition’s argument and refute part of it, or they abandon their original argument in favor of the opposition’s argument.
This structure is similar to that of a traditional argumentative essay, but with some major differences. The argumentative essay also includes the opposing side’s opinion, but the intent of including their viewpoint is to strengthen the original argument by knocking holes in the opposition’s position. The writer of an argumentative essay never ends the essay having changed their opinion as they can in a dialectic essay.
Introduction and Thesis
The introduction of the dialectic essay provides background for the philosophical argument. It may or may not use outside sources. The thesis of the essay states a position that the author endorses, such as “Abortion should be illegal.”
The supporting paragraphs present evidence for the writer’s argument. Like the introduction, the assignment may ask the student to use outside support, or it may ask the student to use hypothetical examples to support the point.
Presenting The Opposition’s Argument
After the writer’s complete argument and the supporting evidence are presented, the writer presents the opposition’s objections to the argument. The author must present this argument in a fair and balanced manner, striving to avoid emotional language.
In the conclusion, the writer decides which opinion is valid, or if a mixture of both is valid. If the writer continues to avoid their original opinion, he or she should present evidence that supports their position, even in light of the opposition’s argument. If the author accepts the opposition’s argument, they must explain why their opinion was changed. If they move to an undecided position or accept parts of each argument, the author must also explain that position.
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