Argumentative Essay Papers

Types of Papers: Argument/Argumentative

While some teachers consider persuasive papers and argument papers to be basically the same thing, it’s usually safe to assume that an argument paper presents a stronger claim—possibly to a more resistant audience.

For example:  while a persuasive paper might claim that cities need to adopt recycling programs, an argument paper on the same topic might be addressed to a particular town.  The argument paper would go further, suggesting specific ways that a recycling program should be adopted and utilized in that particular area.

To write an argument essay, you’ll need to gather evidence and present a well-reasoned argument on a debatable issue.

How can I tell if my topic is debatable? Check your thesis!  You cannot argue a statement of fact, you must base your paper on a strong position. Ask yourself…

  • How many people could argue against my position?  What would they say?
  • Can it be addressed with a yes or no? (aim for a topic that requires more info.)
  • Can I base my argument on scholarly evidence, or am I relying on religion, cultural standards, or morality? (you MUST be able to do quality research!)
  • Have I made my argument specific enough?

Worried about taking a firm stance on an issue?

Though there are plenty of times in your life when it’s best to adopt a balanced perspective and try to understand both sides of a debate, this isn’t one of them.

You MUST choose one side or the other when you write an argument paper!

Don’t be afraid to tell others exactly how you think things should go because that’s what we expect from an argument paper.  You’re in charge now, what do YOU think?

Do…

Don’t…

…use passionate language

…use weak qualifiers like “I believe,” “I feel,” or “I think”—just tell us!

…cite experts who agree with you

…claim to be an expert if you’re not one

…provide facts, evidence, and statistics to support your position

…use strictly moral or religious claims as support for your argument

…provide reasons to support your claim

…assume the audience will agree with you about any aspect of your argument

…address the opposing side’s argument and refute their claims

…attempt to make others look bad (i.e. Mr. Smith is ignorant—don’t listen to him!)

Why do I need to address the opposing side’s argument?

There is an old kung-fu saying which states, "The hand that strikes also blocks", meaning that when you argue it is to your advantage to anticipate your opposition and strike down their arguments within the body of your own paper. This sentiment is echoed in the popular saying, "The best defense is a good offense".

By addressing the opposition you achieve the following goals:

  • illustrate a well-rounded understanding of the topic
  • demonstrate a lack of bias
  • enhance the level of trust that the reader has for both you and your opinion
  • give yourself the opportunity to refute any arguments the opposition may have
  • strengthen your argument by diminishing your opposition's argument

Think about yourself as a child, asking your parents for permission to do something that they would normally say no to. You were far more likely to get them to say yes if you anticipated and addressed all of their concerns before they expressed them. You did not want to belittle those concerns, or make them feel dumb, because this only put them on the defensive, and lead to a conclusion that went against your wishes.
The same is true in your writing.

How do I accomplish this?

To address the other side of the argument you plan to make, you'll need to "put yourself in their shoes."  In other words, you need to try to understand where they're coming from.  If you're having trouble accomplishing this task, try following these steps:  

  1. Jot down several good reasons why you support that particular side of the argument. 
  2. Look at the reasons you provided and try to argue with yourself.  Ask: Why would someone disagree with each of these points?  What would his/her response be?  (Sometimes it's helpful to imagine that you're having a verbal argument with someone who disagrees with you.) 
  3. Think carefully about your audience; try to understand their background, their strongest influences, and the way that their minds work.  Ask:  What parts of this issue will concern my opposing audience the most? 
  4. Find the necessary facts, evidence, quotes from experts, etc. to refute the points that your opposition might make.
  5. Carefully organize your paper so that it moves smoothly from defending your own points to sections where you argue against the opposition.

Sample Papers

You’ve spent quite a bit of time in your English classes writing argumentative essays. You’ve even gotten pretty good at writing on the topics your instructor assigns. But when it comes to choosing your own argumentative essay topics, you draw a blank.

It’s not that there aren’t any good topics to choose from. It’s that you start over-thinking it, wondering if each topic is too cliche, overdone, or just not good enough.

Chances are, all you need to do is relax and find a topic you’re passionate about and, of course, one that’s debatable.

Why Pick Debatable Argumentative Essay Topics?

The name of the essay says it all—argumentative. It would be a lot easier to write an essay on something that people generally agree on, certainly. But that’s not really the point of an argumentative essay.

It’s important to choose debatable argumentative essay topics. You need opposing points that you can counter with your own points.

The world isn’t black and white—there are a lot of gray areas. This is good because it means there are a lot of topics you can choose from.

I’ve listed 70 argumentative essay topics below, phrased as questions, to help get you started. I’ve separated the topics into five categories—legal, moral, social, media, and family. And I’ve even included a helpful link for each topic.

Feel free to use the topics for your own essay or as inspiration to create your own original topic.

14 Legal Argumentative Essay Topics

Argumentative essay topics about legal matters are a popular choice. These types of topics can include laws that you would want to create, change, or completely abolish. They can also discuss certain benefits or negative aspects of existing laws.

You don’t have to get super technical with legal argumentative essays. But you do need to do your research on what the current laws about your chosen topic actually say.

After all, you don’t want to suggest a changing a law that’s already been changed in the way you want.

  1. Should cigarettes and other tobacco products be outlawed?
  2. Should prostitution be legal?
  3. Do the benefits of medical marijuana justify its legality?
  4. Is the drinking age appropriate (should it be lower, higher, or stay the same)?
  5. Should nuclear weapons be outlawed worldwide?
  6. Should the United States put more restrictions on gun ownership and use?
  7. At what age should girls have access to birth control without the consent of their parents?
  8. Should cellphone use be banned while driving?
  9. Does outlawing controlled substances only create a larger black market?
  10. Should corporations be granted personhood?
  11. Should juveniles be sentenced to life in prison?
  12. In what situations, if any, does a woman have a right to an abortion?
  13. Should restaurants be required to include calories on all menu items?
  14. Should an added tax be placed on sugary drinks, such as sodas?

14 Moral Argumentative Essay Topics

Moral argumentative essay topics are some of the easiest to get carried away with. They can cover a variety of moral dilemmas, from animal testing to the death penalty.

These topics tend to be very debatable because people have different opinions—and justifications for those opinions—on what they think is right or wrong.

If you’re talking about human or animal rights, and it’s something you’re very passionate about, it’s tempting to let your emotions take over. While it’s good to be passionate in an argumentative essay, remember to keep your thoughts focused and organized.

It’s definitely worth your time to create an outline. It helps ensure you don’t stray off topic. If you need help crafting an outline, review these two resources:

  1. Is animal testing necessary?
  2. Should consumers buy items from countries that endorse child labor?
  3. Do patients have a right to die via physician-assisted suicide?
  4. Should children’s beauty pageants be banned?
  5. Are nude photographs appropriate in museums that are open to the public?
  6. Should schools and businesses give more incentives for people to do volunteer work?
  7. Are atheists less moral than theists?
  8. Does freedom of speech give people the right to use hate speech?
  9. Do people who commit heinous crimes deserve the death penalty?
  10. Do pre-employment drug tests infringe on personal privacy rights?
  11. Should employees be able to have visible tattoos in the workplace?
  12. Are cameras in public places an invasion of privacy?
  13. Should teens be allowed to have cosmetic surgery?
  14. Should Dreamers be allowed to stay in the United States?

14 Social Argumentative Essay Topics

Social argumentative essay topics tend to overlap with legal and moral topics. But argumentative topics deal more about how individuals act within society and what kinds of pressures society puts on individuals or groups of people.

This is a pretty broad category. There are a lot of topics to choose from and even more that you could create on your own. If you get stuck on which topic to write about, consider something that personally affects you or someone close to you.

This should make writing about that topic come more naturally. Just be sure to rely on facts and not on personal anecdotes. Such anecdotes are more appropriate to the narrative essay realm.

Remember, even though you may be writing about something that affects you personally, the argument essay isn’t usually the place for first person point of view. Most argumentative research papers require you to use third person.

  1. Is there too much pressure on teenagers to go to college?
  2. At what age should citizens be allowed to vote in the United States?
  3. Should more rights be given to immigrants?
  4. Can heterosexual men and women truly be friends with no hopes or expectations of anything more?
  5. In what case(s) could it be considered fair for a company to not hire a candidate who smokes cigarettes?
  6. Should the United States make English the official national language?
  7. Should women wear less-revealing clothing in order to curb men’s catcalling?
  8. Do prisoners deserve the right to vote?
  9. Should there be a legal curfew for minors?
  10. Can online dating replace meeting a person in real life?
  11. Does social media create isolation?
  12. Should welfare recipients be required to submit to drug tests?
  13. Should adoptive parents be given some form of maternity leave?
  14. Can video games be a useful learning tool?

14 Advertising and Media Argumentative Essay Topics

Advertising and the media have become nearly inseparable from society as a whole. Essays written on these topics can include various angles.

For instance, you could look at how media (television, news, movies, magazines, social media, etc.) affects society. But you could also look at what should be allowed to be seen or heard through media and advertisements.

Inspiration to create your own advertising or media argumentative essay topics isn’t hard to find. Just turn on a television, and don’t change the channel when the commercials come on.

Pay close attention to all things electronic. You’ll be sure to find something debatable about what you see.

  1. Should sex be allowed to be portrayed on prime time television?
  2. Where should networks draw the line for violence on television?
  3. Should news shows talk about celebrities?
  4. Do journalists have a duty to eliminate as much bias as possible?
  5. Is it acceptable for companies to advertise in schools?
  6. In what situations should advertisements for alcohol and tobacco products be allowed?
  7. Should warnings and side effects be made more clear in advertisements?
  8. Is print advertising obsolete?
  9. Do TV shows and movies have the responsibility of being more diverse?
  10. Are public service announcements effective?
  11. Do photoshopped images affect self-image and self-esteem?
  12. Do reality shows, such as Teen Mom, glorify teen pregnancy?
  13. Does the media create unrealistic expectations of relationships and marriage?
  14. Does the media attempt to create hype to influence or scare the public?

14 Family Argumentative Essay Topics

Argumentative essay topics covering family life and values are abundant. That’s because every family is different. Rules in families vary on a case-by-case basis, contrary to laws that govern a state or nation.

Because each family is different, it’s hard to generalize in this type of essay.

However, there’s a ton of research on child development and psychology, marital psychology, and personal stories from parents and their children. You can get enough information to make an argument for any of the topics below (or for a topic of your own).

Not sure where to find sources? Check out 5 Best Sources to Help With Writing a Research Paper.

  1. At what age should parents talk to their children about sex?
  2. Do children deserve/need an allowance?
  3. Is it okay for parents to monitor teens’ Internet use?
  4. Should parents be able to spank their children?
  5. Is it acceptable for women to breastfeed in public?
  6. Should parenting classes be compulsory?
  7. Should parents push their kids into extracurricular activities, such as music or sports?
  8. Are children’s rooms really theirs, or do the rooms “belong” to parents’?
  9. Should single people be able to adopt children as easily as couples?
  10. Should same-sex couples be allowed to adopt children as easily as heterosexual couples?
  11. Which parenting style is most effective?
  12. Should parents pay children for good grades?
  13. How does helicopter parenting harm (or help) kids?
  14. At what age should children be allowed to have a cellphone?

Final Thoughts on Choosing Argumentative Essay Topics

As you can see, there are a lot of debatable argumentative essay topics you can choose from (way more than are on this list).

For more ideas, read these posts:

Need to narrow down a broad topic into something more manageable? Read How to Narrow a Topic and Write a Focused Paper.

And if you’d like a few more argument essay tips, take a look these posts:

Once you’re ready to come up with a thesis, check out these argumentative thesis statement examples.

Not sure what a completed argument essay should look like? Read 2 Argumentative Essay Examples With a Fighting Chance.

When picking your topic, keep in mind that it’s much easier to write about something that you already have interest in. In fact, that’s true even if you don’t know a whole lot about it. Researching the topic will allow you to learn more about what fascinates you.

And if you pick something you actually like, writing the essay will be more enjoyable.

If you’ve wrapped up your argument but think there may be a few holes in your logic, send your essay over to the Kibin editors. They’ll help give you the winning edge in whatever you’re debating.

Good luck!

Psst... 98% of Kibin users report better grades! Get inspiration from over 500,000 example essays.

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