Argumentation is everywhere—in congress and courtrooms, in corporate board rooms, at garden club meetings, and in millions of essays, reports, theses, and dissertations written at colleges and universities throughout the world.

It shouldn't be surprising to learn that modern argumentation theory has roots in Greek and Roman thinking. After all, we trace our democratic form of government to these cultures, known also for their genius in philosophy, the fine arts, and science. The Greco-Romans saw argument as a way to settle disputes and discover truth. The goal of argument is to gain your reader's assent to your central proposition, despite active opposition.

Even wise, honest, caring people don't always agree on what is true or is fair. That's why argument is important in academic writing, where students try to convince professors and classmates to accept their ideas, where professors argue with students and with each other.

We argue not because we're angry, but because arguing causes us to examine our own and others' ideas carefully. It causes us to weigh conflicting claims; to make judgments about the nature of evidence and the methods of investigation; to state our thoughts clearly, accurately, and honestly; to consider, respectfully and critically, the ideas of others.