What Is a Counterargument in a Persuasive Essay?

In a persuasive essay, the counterargument explores the views of the opposing side. For example, when a student crafts a thesis statement detailing her position on an issue, the counterargument should detail reasoning against her position.

Although the purpose of a persuasive essay is to persuade the reader to hold the same views as the writer's position, it is important to present the counterargument to show that the writer can recognize that opposing views exist. This practice enhances the credibility of the writer by showing her ability to think rationally and logically. Presenting the counterargument also brings potential doubts of the reader to the forefront. If the writer can address the doubts in a direct manner, the reader may be more open to listening to the writer's position. However, the counterargument is often followed by a rebuttal or refuted statement that discounts the validity of the opposing view. For example, if a student is writing a persuasive essay in support of the death penalty, the counterargument may provide details about the ethical consequences and the increased cost of this option versus supporting a prisoner with a life sentence. To persuade the reader, the writer must then provide a rebuttal that reinforces that her position is better, more logical and more ethical than the counterargument.