Classical Essay Examples

You’ve spent quite a bit of time in your English classes writing argumentative essays. You’ve even gotten pretty good at writing on the topics your instructor assigns. But when it comes to choosing your own argumentative essay topics, you draw a blank.

It’s not that there aren’t any good topics to choose from. It’s that you start over-thinking it, wondering if each topic is too cliche, overdone, or just not good enough.

Chances are, all you need to do is relax and find a topic you’re passionate about and, of course, one that’s debatable.

Why Pick Debatable Argumentative Essay Topics?

The name of the essay says it all—argumentative. It would be a lot easier to write an essay on something that people generally agree on, certainly. But that’s not really the point of an argumentative essay.

It’s important to choose debatable argumentative essay topics. You need opposing points that you can counter with your own points.

The world isn’t black and white—there are a lot of gray areas. This is good because it means there are a lot of topics you can choose from.

I’ve listed 70 argumentative essay topics below, phrased as questions, to help get you started. I’ve separated the topics into five categories—legal, moral, social, media, and family. And I’ve even included a helpful link for each topic.

Feel free to use the topics for your own essay or as inspiration to create your own original topic.

14 Legal Argumentative Essay Topics

Argumentative essay topics about legal matters are a popular choice. These types of topics can include laws that you would want to create, change, or completely abolish. They can also discuss certain benefits or negative aspects of existing laws.

You don’t have to get super technical with legal argumentative essays. But you do need to do your research on what the current laws about your chosen topic actually say.

After all, you don’t want to suggest a changing a law that’s already been changed in the way you want.

  1. Should cigarettes and other tobacco products be outlawed?
  2. Should prostitution be legal?
  3. Do the benefits of medical marijuana justify its legality?
  4. Is the drinking age appropriate (should it be lower, higher, or stay the same)?
  5. Should nuclear weapons be outlawed worldwide?
  6. Should the United States put more restrictions on gun ownership and use?
  7. At what age should girls have access to birth control without the consent of their parents?
  8. Should cellphone use be banned while driving?
  9. Does outlawing controlled substances only create a larger black market?
  10. Should corporations be granted personhood?
  11. Should juveniles be sentenced to life in prison?
  12. In what situations, if any, does a woman have a right to an abortion?
  13. Should restaurants be required to include calories on all menu items?
  14. Should an added tax be placed on sugary drinks, such as sodas?

14 Moral Argumentative Essay Topics

Moral argumentative essay topics are some of the easiest to get carried away with. They can cover a variety of moral dilemmas, from animal testing to the death penalty.

These topics tend to be very debatable because people have different opinions—and justifications for those opinions—on what they think is right or wrong.

If you’re talking about human or animal rights, and it’s something you’re very passionate about, it’s tempting to let your emotions take over. While it’s good to be passionate in an argumentative essay, remember to keep your thoughts focused and organized.

It’s definitely worth your time to create an outline. It helps ensure you don’t stray off topic. If you need help crafting an outline, review these two resources:

  1. Is animal testing necessary?
  2. Should consumers buy items from countries that endorse child labor?
  3. Do patients have a right to die via physician-assisted suicide?
  4. Should children’s beauty pageants be banned?
  5. Are nude photographs appropriate in museums that are open to the public?
  6. Should schools and businesses give more incentives for people to do volunteer work?
  7. Are atheists less moral than theists?
  8. Does freedom of speech give people the right to use hate speech?
  9. Do people who commit heinous crimes deserve the death penalty?
  10. Do pre-employment drug tests infringe on personal privacy rights?
  11. Should employees be able to have visible tattoos in the workplace?
  12. Are cameras in public places an invasion of privacy?
  13. Should teens be allowed to have cosmetic surgery?
  14. Should Dreamers be allowed to stay in the United States?

14 Social Argumentative Essay Topics

Social argumentative essay topics tend to overlap with legal and moral topics. But argumentative topics deal more about how individuals act within society and what kinds of pressures society puts on individuals or groups of people.

This is a pretty broad category. There are a lot of topics to choose from and even more that you could create on your own. If you get stuck on which topic to write about, consider something that personally affects you or someone close to you.

This should make writing about that topic come more naturally. Just be sure to rely on facts and not on personal anecdotes. Such anecdotes are more appropriate to the narrative essay realm.

Remember, even though you may be writing about something that affects you personally, the argument essay isn’t usually the place for first person point of view. Most argumentative research papers require you to use third person.

  1. Is there too much pressure on teenagers to go to college?
  2. At what age should citizens be allowed to vote in the United States?
  3. Should more rights be given to immigrants?
  4. Can heterosexual men and women truly be friends with no hopes or expectations of anything more?
  5. In what case(s) could it be considered fair for a company to not hire a candidate who smokes cigarettes?
  6. Should the United States make English the official national language?
  7. Should women wear less-revealing clothing in order to curb men’s catcalling?
  8. Do prisoners deserve the right to vote?
  9. Should there be a legal curfew for minors?
  10. Can online dating replace meeting a person in real life?
  11. Does social media create isolation?
  12. Should welfare recipients be required to submit to drug tests?
  13. Should adoptive parents be given some form of maternity leave?
  14. Can video games be a useful learning tool?

14 Advertising and Media Argumentative Essay Topics

Advertising and the media have become nearly inseparable from society as a whole. Essays written on these topics can include various angles.

For instance, you could look at how media (television, news, movies, magazines, social media, etc.) affects society. But you could also look at what should be allowed to be seen or heard through media and advertisements.

Inspiration to create your own advertising or media argumentative essay topics isn’t hard to find. Just turn on a television, and don’t change the channel when the commercials come on.

Pay close attention to all things electronic. You’ll be sure to find something debatable about what you see.

  1. Should sex be allowed to be portrayed on prime time television?
  2. Where should networks draw the line for violence on television?
  3. Should news shows talk about celebrities?
  4. Do journalists have a duty to eliminate as much bias as possible?
  5. Is it acceptable for companies to advertise in schools?
  6. In what situations should advertisements for alcohol and tobacco products be allowed?
  7. Should warnings and side effects be made more clear in advertisements?
  8. Is print advertising obsolete?
  9. Do TV shows and movies have the responsibility of being more diverse?
  10. Are public service announcements effective?
  11. Do photoshopped images affect self-image and self-esteem?
  12. Do reality shows, such as Teen Mom, glorify teen pregnancy?
  13. Does the media create unrealistic expectations of relationships and marriage?
  14. Does the media attempt to create hype to influence or scare the public?

14 Family Argumentative Essay Topics

Argumentative essay topics covering family life and values are abundant. That’s because every family is different. Rules in families vary on a case-by-case basis, contrary to laws that govern a state or nation.

Because each family is different, it’s hard to generalize in this type of essay.

However, there’s a ton of research on child development and psychology, marital psychology, and personal stories from parents and their children. You can get enough information to make an argument for any of the topics below (or for a topic of your own).

Not sure where to find sources? Check out 5 Best Sources to Help With Writing a Research Paper.

  1. At what age should parents talk to their children about sex?
  2. Do children deserve/need an allowance?
  3. Is it okay for parents to monitor teens’ Internet use?
  4. Should parents be able to spank their children?
  5. Is it acceptable for women to breastfeed in public?
  6. Should parenting classes be compulsory?
  7. Should parents push their kids into extracurricular activities, such as music or sports?
  8. Are children’s rooms really theirs, or do the rooms “belong” to parents’?
  9. Should single people be able to adopt children as easily as couples?
  10. Should same-sex couples be allowed to adopt children as easily as heterosexual couples?
  11. Which parenting style is most effective?
  12. Should parents pay children for good grades?
  13. How does helicopter parenting harm (or help) kids?
  14. At what age should children be allowed to have a cellphone?

Final Thoughts on Choosing Argumentative Essay Topics

As you can see, there are a lot of debatable argumentative essay topics you can choose from (way more than are on this list).

For more ideas, read these posts:

Need to narrow down a broad topic into something more manageable? Read How to Narrow a Topic and Write a Focused Paper.

And if you’d like a few more argument essay tips, take a look these posts:

Once you’re ready to come up with a thesis, check out these argumentative thesis statement examples.

Not sure what a completed argument essay should look like? Read 2 Argumentative Essay Examples With a Fighting Chance.

When picking your topic, keep in mind that it’s much easier to write about something that you already have interest in. In fact, that’s true even if you don’t know a whole lot about it. Researching the topic will allow you to learn more about what fascinates you.

And if you pick something you actually like, writing the essay will be more enjoyable.

If you’ve wrapped up your argument but think there may be a few holes in your logic, send your essay over to the Kibin editors. They’ll help give you the winning edge in whatever you’re debating.

Good luck!

Psst... 98% of Kibin users report better grades! Get inspiration from over 500,000 example essays.

Sample Classical Argument

Is Schooling Conducive to Learning?


    If students get As on a test then they know the material, right? How many of those students would still know the information if you asked them about a week later? How about a month later? Most students will not remember most of the information for very long after the test. Why is that? They learned it, didn't they? Well, that depends on how you define "learning". "Learning" is gaining knowledge and experience which stays in the long-term memory and is of value to the recipient. So we have to ask, is our education system really teaching children? The way education is set up in this country is simple. There is usually only one teacher in a classroom teaching from 12 to 30 students at a time. Information is written on a blackboard in the front of the room while the children take notes and listen. There may be some variation depending on the school and teacher. Then the students are tested on the material. After the test, the class moves on to new information. The material is usually not looked at again until a final test at the end of the semester, for which students study very hard the few days before. If they pass the test it is assumed that they "learned" the information, regardless of if they forget it later. Our education system is not only not enhancing learning but may actually be inhibiting it.

    The education system in the United States today treats the minds of children like bowls to be filled with information. What is does not realize is that if you fill a bowl too quickly most of the liquid will bounce back out. It is the same with the mind of a child. When they are given too much information in such a small amount of time very little of it is actually retained. This is because of the vast amount of information students are given in very small amounts of time. Children study a single topic for two weeks to a month and then they are tested on it. After the test they study something different for the next two weeks to a month. This causes the previous information to be forgotten and replaced by new information. This means that children end up with only very general knowledge of the topics studied. A few children do learn this quickly, but not very many. Children learn at greatly varying paces, however, schools assume that all children learn at the same speed. This causes many children to be very frustrated and to give up trying to learn. Many children who learn at a slower pace fall behind beyond any hope of catching up. Often the children who learn more quickly get bored and give up completely. Many of these children begin associating learning with boredom or frustration and actually start to dislike and even fight against learning.

    Children also all learn in different ways. Many times when a child in unable to learn something the way it is presented in schools they are told it is their fault or they simply fail. Usually no one looks into the reason that a child is failing or struggling. It is assumed that they just aren't trying hard enough. This is very unfair to the child because it cheats them out of discovering their full potentials and strengths. By cheating children this way we are also severely crippling their self-esteem. Children know that they have greater potentials, but they will stop believing it if they feel like their best is not enough. When they feel this way they will often stop trying because they feel that they will never achieve anything. I know a man who went through much of this as a child. He has a learning difference and was unable to keep up with most of his classes. The teacher told his parents that if he sat quietly in the back of the room she would pass him. His parents pulled him out of the public school and sent him to a smaller, catholic school where he received more individual attention. His parents also worked with him more at home. This worked well until he got into high school. There he figured out how to look at a textbook once or twice and pass a test on it. He figured out how to use the tricks within a test to get the right answers. While this gave him good test scores, he was learning very little. Developing this skill cheated him out of learning many fascinating and useful things. He is now one of the most intelligent people I know because partway through college he saw that he was missing a lot and the consequences of that. He decided to really begin to work at learning.

    I am another example of this. My first few years of school were at a public elementary school. I learn very quickly and so I became bored. Eventually I stopped paying any attention to doing any work. My teachers treated me like I was incapable of learning what I easily learned in five minutes. My parents then put me into a school for gifted and talented children and I slowly regained my love of learning. Neither of these are very unusual cases. The only thing that is unusual is that most children do not find ways of fixing the problem, they just continue to sit in the back of the room bored and never discover the joys of learning. My friend and I were lucky to have parents who gave us all of the opportunities that they could to allow us to learn.

    The grading system and homework are also not conducive to learning. They take the focus off of learning and put in on to pleasing the teacher. Homework makes it difficult for students to focus on learning because they are too busy writing essays and filling out worksheets to focus on the material itself. It changes learning from a pleasure to a chore. Children begin to dislike learning because they are too busy trying to get an "A" to focus on anything else. Children are told that they have to get good grades to be good children. They are punished for getting things wrong. This is bad because often making mistakes is the best way to learn. Mistakes are seen in a very negative light and children are given low grades and told that mistakes are bad. Students should not be discouraged from making mistakes because often they learn more making mistakes and identifying them as such than from simply doing everything correctly from the start.

    Grades cause children to feel dumb when they make mistakes. There are many brilliant children who get low grades simply because they don't do their homework. The teachers are then baffled when the child gets a good grade on a test. The students don't end up with good grades because they didn't do the homework, however they may have learned more than any other child in the class. So why do we have grades? If they aren't measuring learning, what are they for? All that they really do is measure who does the most homework and who gets into the good graces of the teacher. Many students are turned away from learning because of grades. Good grades must not be equated with learning because they are very different things.

    It may be argued that within schools there are often special programs for children with different abilities. These programs help some, but there are problems. Often children don't want to be put into a special class because it would make them stand out. Many children would rather be confused or bored than stick out among their peers. They will do anything to not stand out, even sit in a classroom and be bored to the point of insanity. There are children who learn to fake their way through school just so that they won't have to stand out. The children who are in those programs often have serious problems with self-esteem. The other problem is that many schools are underfunded and the special programs are usually the ones that lose money first.

    People feel that grades are important because they are our way of measuring how well a child is doing in school, but what exactly is being measured? If grades are meant to reflect how well a child has learned something they are not being implemented correctly. Often things such as tardies, absences, and class participation are part of grades. These things really have nothing to do with how much the child is learning. Being late for class does not seriously impair a child's learning abilities, neither does missing a few classes, as long as they get the information. Class participation is no reflection on how well someone is learning, a child can sit in the back of the room and not say a word the whole class period and still walk away having gained more knowledge than anyone else in the class. Grades also do not measure how much work a child is putting into the class (although they are supposed to). Some students are able to put very little work into a class and receive an A, while other students work very hard and only receive Cs.

    It is commonly thought that schools give people the knowledge they will need in life. Is this really true, however? How much do students actually gain for life in schools that they couldn't learn in a better way? Wouldn't it be more beneficial if students were taught things in ways that showed them the practical uses of the information? What if students were shown how interesting information is and how to find a use for it? What if they could figure out uses for the knowledge themselves? There has to be a better way of giving information to everyone than through schools. A way that does not turn people away from learning. Schools make learning a chore rather than a pleasure. When someone feels that something is a chore they are more likely to fight against it. There has to be a way to make learning a pleasure, because that's what it should be. Children should be shown how important learning is, and schooling is not the way to do it.

    Our system of schooling is not set up the way it should be. It was created to enhance learning, to teach children what they needed to know. It has strayed from that purpose. Our school system not only does not teach, but it turns students away from learning. Our children deserve better than this. They deserve to be shown how much fun and how beneficial learning can be. Learning can be what gives our lives value, but we are cheating our children of that. The school system needs to be seriously looked at and changed. The future of our world could be shaped by how well our children are prepared for it. They will be better prepared for it if they are shown how important and how rewarding knowledge and confidence can be. If our children are given these building blocks then they will become stronger adults and they will enhance the structure of the human world.

 

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