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Lesson 2: Importance of a Thesis

When someone is accused of a crime, our courts must decide whether the person is innocent or guilty. To do this, the court will host a debate between two sides. One side, the prosecutor, presents evidence of the person’s guilt. The other side, the defense attorney, presents evidence of the person’s innocence. Finally, the jury, having heard all the evidence, makes a final decision. This method of finding the “truth” about something is called the adversarial method.

The world of academia (scholarly debate) works much the same way. Controversial questions are settled by academic debates. However, these debates don’t usually take place in person. Rather, one scholar writes an academic paper presenting evidence for one side of an issue; another scholar presents evidence for the other side. Readers, like the jury, will make up their own minds regarding the ultimate “truth.”

As a participant in one of these debates, your job is to play the part of a lawyer—that is, to argue one side of the debate. And while you certainly want to be honest, your job is not necessarily “to tell the whole truth.” Arriving at the truth is the jury’s job. Your job—like the job of a prosecutor or a defense attorney—is simply to present the best case for your side. Your side of the debate is your thesis.

Check Your Understanding

  1. The adversarial method is a way of discovering what?
  2. The adversarial method is based on the belief that the best way to discover the truth is to do what?
  3. The purpose of a thesis is to let the reader know what?

Quiz: MLA 2