Dialectical Essay

The dialectical essay should be written around the following thesis, “A universal basic income is the best economic answer to an increasing wealth gap in the United States.”
A Reminder Regarding the Writing Assignments

(All of the blue text below is quoting directly from the Syllabus)

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All writing assignments in this course presume that students will demonstrate college-level proficiency in English composition. Responses to essay prompts must be expressed in essay form (complete sentences and well-structured paragraphs). An essay response that strays from essay form can result in a significant reduction (35-50% or more) in your score. Credit will also be deducted for fundamental errors in composition, such as errors in spelling, punctuation, and sentence structure. Any such errors in composition can reduce your score. Further, responses must be written clearly. (For example, periods and commas should be clearly distinguishable from one another.) In terms of content, credit will be earned based solely upon the correct, complete, unambiguous expression of the information requested by the prompt. Specifically, writing assignments must meet the following requirements:

The content must be expressed in your own words;
The content must be based upon the curriculum for this course. (Thus, no credit will be earned by including information that is technically correct but was not a part of the curriculum for this course);
The content must be information specifically requested by the prompt. (Thus, no credit will be earned by including information that is correct but irrelevant to the prompt.)

General Information

The purpose of this assignment is to demonstrate your understanding of the dialectical form of essay. Writing a good dialectical essay presumes a full understanding of the fundamentals of logical argumentation, so your success here will also demonstrate your understanding of logic.

Your submission must be expressed in essay form. It should be written in complete sentences and well-structured paragraphs. The content of your essay will be graded based on whether it correctly fulfills the requirements of the assignment. This essay is worth 15% of your overall course grade.

If you are concerned about your writing skills, remember that free tutoring is available through the Student Success Center both in-person and online. Go to IVC Student Success Center
(Links to an external site.)

In terms of length, I am setting an absolute cap of 1,000 words for this essay. (If you submit more than 1,000 words, your grade will be based exclusively on the first 1,000 words of your submission, and you will be marked down for the likely fragment hanging at the 1,000th word.) That being said, it is difficult to write a complete dialectic essay in less than 500 words. Instead of focusing on length, it is best to focus instead on writing an essay that is very clearly a dialectical essay.

The Power and the Presence of the Dialectical Essay

The dialectical essay can be a very powerful essay form. Mastery of this form will serve you well in life. Even if you do not end up writing essays in normal life, you will be encounter the dialectical essay form in the real world. Familiarizing yourself with this form will equip you to better understand the thinking of others. One of the best ways to familiarize yourself with the form is to write such an essay yourself.

The Assignment

For this essay, you will defend a definite position on a topic or an issue of your choice. (In keeping with standard practice at the college level, I will not suggest or approve of topics for any student. Choosing your topic is a part of your assignment.) The first step is to identify the position that you wish to defend, and then express that position clearly and concisely in a single proposition. This proposition becomes the thesis of your essay. Then, you will write a dialectical essay that defends your thesis. See the detailed prompt, below.

Important: You will score very poorly on this assignment if you do not follow the instructions to the letter. Make sure that you read the grading rubric before and after you write your essay in order to ensure that you are fulfilling the requirements of the assignment. Instructions for accessing the grading rubric are described below.

For those who are interested, I have created a template for a dialectical essay:

Download Dialectical Essay Template as an MS-Word file

Also, remember the resources that I have previously provided to you here in Canvas that describe and illustrate the dialectic essay:

Go to The Dialectical Essay

Go to Dialectical Essay: Example #1 (“The Responsibility of American News Reporters”)

Go to Dialectical Essay: Example #2 (“Learning to Reason Well”)

The Grading Rubric

To see the full grading rubric for this assignment:

Go to Grades in the course menu
Click on this assignment
Look for the “Show Rubric” link near the upper left of your screen.

The Prompt

Prompt: Based on the curriculum for this course, write a dialectical essay that meets the following requirements:

The essay is a dialectical essay (to refresh your memory, see The Dialectical Essay)
Requirements regarding paragraph #1:
The thesis must appear as the very last sentence of the paragraph. (Note: A thesis itself should not be a compound sentence. If your thesis is embedded within a compound sentence, ensure that the thesis is the very last of the component sentences.)
The paragraph contains no argumentation at all
Requirements regarding paragraph #2
Your argument in favor of your thesis makes its very first appearance here
Your argument is logically problem-free
Your argument has a conclusion indicator
The conclusion of your argument mirrors the very last sentence of the first paragraph.
Requirements regarding paragraph #3
Consists solely in a direct reply to the core content of paragraph #2
Represents the views of someone other than the author of the essay
Begins with transitional language to make clear that the author is now playing the Devil’s Advocate
Features an anticipated objection to the argument in paragraph #2
Helpful hint: See if one of the informal fallacies is something that an opponent might use. If so, use it!
Also, this could consist in questioning the truth of one or more of the premises, or in questioning the argument form
Ideally, avoids objecting to the thesis itself (It should be objecting only to the argument in paragraph #2)
Ideally, avoids offering a separate argument completely unrelated to the argument in paragraph #2 (It should be objecting only to the argument in paragraph #2)
Requirements regarding paragraph #4
Consists solely in a direct reply to the core content of paragraph #3
Represents the views of the author of the essay
Begins with transitional language to make clear that the author has now returned to advocating for their own position(s)
Explains why the anticipated objection in paragraph #3 is mistaken
Hint: If you used an informal fallacy as the anticipated objection in paragraph #3, you can basically just name and explain the fallacy.
Requirements regarding paragraph #5
Summarizes the chain of reasoning through paragraphs 2-4

Tips for Proof-Reading Your Essay

In proof-reading your essay, do the following things in the following order:

In paragraph #2, verify that there is exactly one conclusion indicator.
In paragraph #2, verify that there is exactly one logical argument.
In paragraph #2, verify that the argument is logically problem-free.
Compare the conclusion of the argument in paragraph #2 with the last sentence of paragraph #1. They should be making the same claim (different wording is okay, but they must mean the exact same thing.)
Consciously acknowledge to yourself that if steps 1-4, above, are not absolutely correct, your essay score will be compromised substantially
In paragraph #3, verify that the paragraph begins with the appropriate transitional language.
In paragraph #3, verify that the core content consists in an anticipated direct objection to the argument (not the thesis/conclusion) in paragraph #2.
In paragraph #4, verify that the paragraph begins with the appropriate transitional language.
In paragraph #4, verify that the core content consists in direct reply to the anticipated objection from paragraph #3.
In paragraph #5, verify that the core content summarizes the chain of reasoning from paragraphs 2-4.

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