Thursday 10 May 2012

3 Great Persuasive Essay Topics

Students often go to the library to research persuasive essay topics and then they go to a computer and type in "Persuasive Essay Topics" into Google and end up here. What a waste! They could have just picked up a newspaper and seen what people are arguing about these days. Not only that, if you read the editorial page, you will see some pretty good persuasive writing. However, you're here not there, so let's see what we can do. A persuasive essay is one that persuades someone to agree with you. It needs to have a clear topic that you can argue for. It should also have some reasonable arguments against your point of view. The reasons that the topic is controversial is that there are reasonable people who see different sides of the issue. You need to be able to be very logical in order to be persuasive.

Here are three topics with pro/con stances and clear thesis statements on either side.
  1. War in Afghanistan: Should we continue to participate?
  2. Environment: Should we tax carbon to fight global warming?
  3. United Nations: Should we continue to participate?
If you want to know about how to structure a persuasive essay, click here.

Next, can you forget about gun control, abortion and reality TV? I think these are the three most common topics. Choose a challenging topic and you will have your teacher's sympathy right from the start. I'm going to offer some ideas below; however, do not plagiarize these arguments word for word. Think about them and try to develop some of your own.

War and Peace

Please note, arguing against war does not mean not supporting our troops. We support our troops by paying taxes so they can be adequately equipped and can support their families. We support our troops morally by thanking them for the difficult job they do. But we discuss, in a democracy, the choices made at a political level about which job we ask the troops to do; when we ask them to fight and when we keep them at home.


1: The war in Afghanistan is not our fight; we should withdraw immediately; OR
2: The war in Afghanistan is vital to our self-interest as a democratic nation and we should not withdraw until the job is finished.
Pro 1/Con 2:
  • There has been conflict in Afghanistan for a long time and it's not possible for an outside force to come in and settle things;
  • There is too much corruption in the Afghan government for it to be possible to hand over full administration;
  • Continued participation hurts our chances to be seen a positive force in the world.
Con 1/ Pro 2:
  • The war was started because Afghanistan was a corrupt rogue state which did not respect human rights and allowed attacks on democratic states to be planned and executed from there.
  • An early withdrawal would allow the Taliban to move back into control and all the lives spent would have been wasted.
  • The principle is that the fight is for democracy and stability.

Environmental Topics


1: It is necessary to tax carbon to raise money to fight global climate change and to persuade people to consume less fossil fuel; OR
2: Taxing carbon is an unnecessary drain on the economy, a global carbon trading market would encourage business to use less carbon for the right reasons.
Pro 1/Con 2:
  • People respond when they get hit in their pocketbooks;
  • The global carbon trading market has a lot of potential for fraud, just like the stock market;
  • There will be a big need for funds for remediation when we start feeling more of the effects of climate change (eg: hurricane Katrina), so it's wise to begin amassing some funds now to avoid the shock to the economy later.
Con 1/Pro 2:
  • People have little choice, they need to do what is practical for them; businesses have to be persuaded to change and that means a business model is necessary;
  • Although there may be potential for fraud, just like in the stock market, the stock market has show itself to be a good way to raise capital and has worked perfectly well for most of the last century;
  • Hurting the economy now to avoid hurting it in the future doesn't make sense. The best defense for future shocks is to encourage a healthy economy now.

International Topics


1: The United Nations is a toothless organization which should be disbanded in favor of another multilateral body which is not mired in the politics of the developing world; OR
2: There has not been a world war in the 60 years since the founding of the UN, it should be strengthened and supported to continue doing a great job bringing stability to the international community.
Pro 1/Con 2:
  • Decades of UN resolutions against South Africa did not end apartheid; changes took place because of international investment and courageous leaders;
  • The UN general assembly is controlled by a majority vote from many small developing nations, unless the whole structure can be changed it will continue to debate and pass motions that are largely irrelevant;
  • The UN has had many charges of corruption leveled against it, officials have been duped into supporting warlords in Somalia and have been wasting money on ill-conceived development projects.
Con 1/Pro 2:
  • The United Nations is the first time in human history that we've had an international body where talk can replace war. It's vital that it continue.
  • The "small developing nations" actually represent a large part of the world's population. The UN is the only international body where the wealth of a country isn't the sole measure of its value;
  • Although there may be some corruption, the UN is a wonderful opportunity for talented individuals from many countries to work together and demonstrate that government and corruption do not have to be synonymous.

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