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Concessions


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Concessions

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A well-built Argument, in speech and writing, begins with a claim. The arguer then supports that claim with objective facts and evidence to help persuade the audience to agree with the claim's validity. Now, at what point should the arguer mention that they agree with the opposing point of view?

If you’re confused, it might be because you’ve never considered adding a highly impactful element to your arguments: a concession. Keep on reading for the Definition of concession, examples of concession, and more.

Concession Definition

A concession is an argumentative strategy where the speaker or writer addresses a stance that opposes their claim. The word concession comes from the root word concede.

Concede means to admit that something is valid after apparently denying it.

The key to an argumentative concession is found in the Definition of concede, where it says “admit something is valid after apparently denying.” Effectively presenting an Argument does not mean you have to strictly oppose every other perspective or differing idea. A concession allows you to answer any major questions that arise from your stance.

Constructing a Concession

No matter the subject, a good argument will have other reasonable perspectives. It doesn’t strengthen your argument to pretend that opposition doesn’t exist; instead, your argument benefits from opportunities to respond to the opposition.

Concessions, Chess Queen Fallen Before King Piece As Admits Of Defeat, VaiaYou might be tempted to think concession admits defeat, but in reality, it helps persuade the audience of your argument.

A concession could be as short as a sentence or two, or it could be as long as several paragraphs. It depends on The Argument and what the counterargument(s) may be.

A counterargument, also known as a counterclaim, is an argument from an opposing side in response to an initial argument.

A counterargument challenges the points made in the first argument.

Original argument: Smoking shouldn’t be allowed on a college campus because it affects everyone’s health, as second-hand smoke can still be harmful.

Counterargument: Smoking should be allowed on college campuses because there are plenty of outdoor spaces that would allow people to smoke in private, away from the high traffic areas.

In this example, the main point made in the first argument is that smoking impacts everyone, which is why it shouldn’t be allowed on campus. The counterargument challenges that point by suggesting that smoking areas could be placed far away from high-traffic areas on campus.

If you know the likely counterarguments to your position, you can do one of two things with your concession:

  1. You can simply acknowledge the opposition.

Some might propose placing designated smoking areas far away from sidewalks and building entrances to reduce the amount of second-hand smoke.

  1. You can acknowledge the points made by the opposition and move on to either refute or rebut those points.

Some might recommend placing designated smoking areas far away from sidewalks and building entrances to reduce the amount of second-hand smoke. However, this suggestion only addresses the issue of where to put smokers and doesn’t get to the heart of the matter. The question is, should schools endorse and enable students to continue smoking cigarettes when it's harmful to themselves and other students? I would argue the answer is no.

This example still concedes the opposition, and it follows up the concession with a rebuttal (italicized) which is different from a Refutation.

Concession Words and Arguments

Although the words are often used interchangeably, a rebuttal and Refutation are not the same things in Argumentation.

A rebuttal is a response to an argument that tries to prove it untrue by offering a different, logical perspective.

A refutation is a response to an argument that decisively demonstrates that the opposing argument cannot be true.

The difference between a refutation of a counterclaim and a rebuttal to a counterclaim is that a refutation definitively proves the counterclaim untrue. On the other hand, a rebuttal simply offers other possible solutions to the problem or issues with the counterclaim.

Remember, a concession is where you concede the parts of the counterclaim that are valid in some way. The refutation or rebuttal seeks to point out the flaws of the counterclaim, and so comes after the concession.

Concession Examples

Consider the following excerpt from Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail (1963), in which Dr. King responds to criticism that he should try negotiation instead of protest.

You may well ask: “Why direct action? Why sit-ins, marches, and so forth? Isn’t negotiation a better path?” You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks to dramatize the issue so that it can no longer be ignored."

Dr. King concedes that the public is right to call for negotiation. He quickly follows his concession with a rebuttal, though; the purpose of direct action is to seek negotiation.

Another example of concession also comes from Dr. King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail (1963), but this one finishes with a refutation instead of a rebuttal.

You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court’s decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws. One may well ask: “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?” The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all.”

The difference here is that Martin Luther King Jr. is refuting that he and the protesters are breaking any laws, since he argues that the laws of segregation are unjust and, therefore, not real laws. This refutation succinctly answers the critique that people of the civil rights movement shouldn't break laws by refuting the claim that they are breaking laws.

Concession Synonym

The word concession comes from the Latin word concessio, which means “yielding” or “allowing.” There are hints of the original meaning in the way people use concession or concede because these words mean to yield to another perspective (to some degree).

Concessions, Yield Sign, VaiaYield, one of the root meanings of concession, means to make way for others arguments or perspectives.

There are a few synonyms for concession. They include:

  • Compromise

  • Allowance

  • Exception

A concession in argumentative writing should not be confused with a concession speech given by a rejected presidential candidate.

Purpose of Concession in Persuasive Writing

Although the purpose of a concession is to give a nod to opposing viewpoints and usher in either a refutation or rebuttal, a concession is not essential to an argument. You can present a high-quality argument without a concession.

However, a concession communicates a few important things to the audience about you. It boosts your credibility because it shows you’re an authority on the subject and have done diligent research—you know enough about the topic to be aware of all sides of The Argument.

A concession also tells your audience that you are not biased.

Bias is prejudice against or in favor of a particular thing, person, or group of people. An author or speaker that is obviously biased does not hold much credibility because they don’t hold an objective view of the subject. This is dangerous to the integrity of an argument and can lead to the audience discrediting anything a biased speaker has to say.

It is critical to show the audience that you are not so entrenched in your side of the argument that you simply can’t see other reasonable perspectives. By conceding other sides, you essentially communicate that not only are you aware of those other sides, but you still choose your side over them. This strengthens your argument significantly.

A concession can also soften you toward people who may lean more to the other side of the argument. For example, say you’re arguing that teachers should increase the amount of homework assigned. You know this is an unpopular Opinion, so it would be helpful to include a concession in your argument to let your audience know that you’re aware of the objections that will arise.

I propose that teachers should increase, not decrease, the amount of homework they assign on a weekly basis. Some might complain that this simply takes up more time—both the teachers’ and students’—and won’t guarantee improved grades. Nothing will guarantee an improvement in every student’s grades, but more homework provides more opportunities for mastery and so should be considered.

This example shows that the speaker is aware of the probable objections to this argument, and concedes that they are right in part. This concession is especially effective because it allows the speaker to rebut the counterargument to the original argument. While this argument may not be popular, it is presented well and might change a few minds.

Concessions - Key takeaways

  • A concession is an argumentative strategy where the speaker or writer addresses a stance that opposes their claim.
  • If you know the likely counterarguments to your position, you can do one of two things:
      1. You can simply acknowledge the opposition (concession)

      2. You can acknowledge the points made by the opposition (concession) and move on to either refute or rebut those points

  • Refutation definitively proves the counterclaim untrue.

  • Rebuttal offers other possible solutions to the problem or issues with the counterclaim.

  • A concession boosts your credibility as an author.

Frequently Asked Questions about Concessions

A concession is an argumentative strategy where the speaker or writer addresses a stance that opposes their claim.

Before you can offer a concession, there first has to be a counterargument. You might anticipate the counterargument and provide a concession before the opposition has a chance to state the counterargument, though.

Concession means to yield or allow for another perspective. A few other synonyms are compromise and exception.

A concession might simply acknowledge the counterargument, or it might go one step further and offer either a rebuttal or refutation of the counterargument

The purpose of a concession is to give a nod to opposing viewpoints and usher in either a refutation or rebuttal of the counterarguments. Concessions also boost your credibility as the author of the argument.

Final Concessions Quiz

Concessions Quiz - Teste dein Wissen

Question

How do you define concession?

Show answer

Answer

A concession is an argumentative strategy where the speaker or writer addresses a stance that opposes their claim. 

Show question

Question

True or false: Every argument must include a concession.

Show answer

Answer

False

Show question

Question

What is another word for counterargument?

Show answer

Answer

Counterclaim

Show question

Question

Which comes first, concession or counterargument?

Show answer

Answer

There has to be a counterargument for there to be a concession. 

Show question

Question

What is the difference between refutation and rebuttal?

Show answer

Answer

The difference between a refutation of a counterclaim and a rebuttal to a counterclaim is that a  refutation definitively proves the counterclaim untrue. A rebuttal, on the other hand, simply offers other possible solutions to the problem or issues with the counterclaim.

Show question

Question

Is the following an example of a refutation or a rebuttal?
"I know you think if I get a new phone I'll just break it, but I promise I'll be careful!"

Show answer

Answer

Rebuttal

Show question

Question

Which of the following is not a synonym of concession?

Show answer

Answer

Mistaken

Show question

Question

What is the purpose of a concession besides offering a rebuttal to the counterarguments?

Show answer

Answer

Concession tells the audience that you are not biased and that you're a well-rounded thinker.

Show question

Question

True or false: A concession can also soften you toward people who may lean more to the other side of the argument.

Show answer

Answer

True

Show question

Question

The root word for concession is...

Show answer

Answer

Concede

Show question

Question

How long should a concession be?

Show answer

Answer

A concession could be as short as a sentence or two, or it could be as long as several paragraphs. It depends on the argument and what the counterargument(s) may be.

Show question

Question

What is a counterargument?

Show answer

Answer

A counterargument is an argument from an opposing side in response to an initial argument. A counterargument challenges the points made in the first argument.

Show question

Question

True or false: A concession must include a refutation or rebuttal.

Show answer

Answer

False

Show question

Question

Should a rebuttal or refutation come before or after the concession?

Show answer

Answer

The refutation or rebuttal seeks to point out the flaws of the counterclaim, and so comes after the concession. 

Show question

Question

How does a concession prove you to be an unbiased author?

Show answer

Answer

A concession shows the audience that you are not so entrenched in your side of the argument that you simply can’t see other reasonable perspectives.

Show question

Test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards

True or false: Every argument must include a concession.

What is another word for counterargument?

Is the following an example of a refutation or a rebuttal?"I know you think if I get a new phone I'll just break it, but I promise I'll be careful!"

Next

Flashcards in Concessions15

Start learning

How do you define concession?

A concession is an argumentative strategy where the speaker or writer addresses a stance that opposes their claim. 

True or false: Every argument must include a concession.

False

What is another word for counterargument?

Counterclaim

Which comes first, concession or counterargument?

There has to be a counterargument for there to be a concession. 

What is the difference between refutation and rebuttal?

The difference between a refutation of a counterclaim and a rebuttal to a counterclaim is that a  refutation definitively proves the counterclaim untrue. A rebuttal, on the other hand, simply offers other possible solutions to the problem or issues with the counterclaim.

Is the following an example of a refutation or a rebuttal?
"I know you think if I get a new phone I'll just break it, but I promise I'll be careful!"

Rebuttal

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