Activity 3: Critical skills – Understanding an argument

3 hours


This activity will help us to recap our work from Module 1 (Contemporary Challenges to Freedom) on analysing the structure of paragraphs and provide a bridge to this module (Feminism and Freedom) by discussing components of an argument which are (a) claims (b) assumptions (c) evidence (d) conclusions.


The ability to recognise and evaluate an argument is a critical skill in today’s activist world. In many ways, we are confronted with arguments about issues that are close to our hearts as activists on a daily basis. Whether it is a radio call-in or in the opinion section of the newspaper, arguments about issues as varied as migration, reproductive rights and violence in our schools are being presented in different ways, in formal and informal spaces. But, what do we mean by “argument”? What are the necessary components of an argument and how do we evaluate a good or bad argument?


You will be divided into 6 groups. Each group will read the Peter Beinart article The New Authoritarians Are Waging War on Women (full article, or shortened as PDF or DOCX) from The Atlantic Jan/Feb 2019.

In your groups prepare a presentation to plenary that covers the following:

  1. What is the main argument?

  2. What is the evidence provided to support it?

  3. What questions or criticisms do you have about the strength of the argument?

  4. What are the gaps or silences in the article? Is there any counter-evidence that could be provided?

You have 45 minutes for this task.

Record the responses on poster cards and get ready to present to the rest of the class.

The facilitator will wrap this discussion up with a quick presentation.

📖️ Reading

  • Peter Beinart, The New Authoritarians Are Waging War on Women, The Atlantic Jan/Feb 2019 (full article, or shortened as PDF or DOCX)