Step Five: Wrapping Things Up: Your Conclusion
The final paragraph of the essay is where you wrap up your case. What you need to say in this conclusion depends on the details of the dispute, as well as your thesis. At this point in the essay, you may want to determine if you are still committed to your thesis. Perhaps the other side of the argument is stronger. (It is relatively easy, particularly in a practice essay, to change your thesis at this point, though you’d need to revisit your opening paragraph to have consistency in your writing). However you choose to bring your essay to a close, remember to review the fundamental reasons for your conclusion, and make sure that the conclusion you draw is the same thesis you announced in the beginning. Make it very clear why you hold the position you choose. The ending of the essay should match the beginning in many ways. It is like coming full circle in an argument. If it is possible, add additional information to support your opinion.
In the argument below, the Step Four response to the possible criticism is rejected. After we present this strategy, we will give an example of how to affirm the response. While reading, consider the following questions:
How does the writer indicate that he/she is arguing against the response to the possible criticism?
How do we know which claim of Step Four is being challenged?
What is his/her reasoning?
But the claim that individuals, unlike nations, are particularly vulnerable is not convincing. Nations have, in the past, been subjected to unjust uses of force by other nations just like individuals have. History is littered with examples of this. And, in fact, we believe that force used against an aggressive nation – such as Iraq against Kuwait – has a strong justification, whereas force used against non-aggressors is not justified. We want to protect people against abusive use of force, whether they be an individual or a nation. The more we examine the parallels between the morality governing use of force against individuals and actions, the less convincing the NATO position appears. So NATO’s action, no matter how well-intentioned, is not justified.
This paragraph clearly presents the writer’s argument against the response using the phrase, “But the claim that … is not convincing.” It is clear which sentence is being challenged by the words, “Individuals, unlike nations, are particularly vulnerable,” which are mentioned in the topic sentence. The reasoning against this statement is that nations are just as vulnerable as individuals, as proven by historical examples. It is important to note that this paragraph ends with the explicit repetition of the thesis, which now can be asserted with confidence because it has been proven by dialectical reasoning.
Alternate Step Five
Suppose you take up the other side of the issue, arguing the opposite thesis: “I will argue that NATO’s action is not only well-intentioned, but also well justified.” With this thesis, your essay would examine both sides of the issue in many of the same ways shown in the previous examples. The difference is that in Step Five you would need to side with the response in Step Four, and not argue against it.
An example of this approach follows. While reading, consider the following questions:
How do you know that the writer agrees with Step Four?
How does he/she strengthen the case for that side of the argument?
The claim that individuals, unlike nations, are particularly vulnerable is ultimately convincing. As a matter of fact, the intervention of NATO in Yugoslavia has a key purpose of protecting individuals. Because that is what we value, we are prepared to treat nations differently than individuals, especially in cases where individuals are being harmed. Our concern about the vulnerability of nations rests on the concern for the vulnerability of its citizens. As a result, when nations threaten citizens, the same protections against abuse we uphold for individuals are no longer justified. So NATO’s action is not only well-intentioned, but also well justified.
The writer sides with the response, and this is none by their topic sentence which states, “The claim that individuals … is ultimately unconvincing.” The writer strengthens the argument by taking up one of the controversial claims and giving more support for it. The writer asserts that the reason we protect nations is to protect individuals. When a nation harms individuals, we drop prohibitions against harming nations.
Summary of Step Five
Checklist for all of the Steps
In writing and checking your draft, use this checklist to ensure that each step contains all crucial elements and has the proper form.
Summary of Step One
Summary of Step Two
Summary of Step Three
Summary of Step Four
Summary of Step Five