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Debatable Topics Thesis Statements

Have you ever watched a great film trailer and thought, “I have to see that movie!”? A good trailer gives you the basic premise of the movie, shows you the highlights, and encourages you to want to see more.

A good thesis statement will accomplish the same thing. It gives readers an idea of the most important points of an essay, shows the highlights, and makes them want to read more.

A well-constructed thesis serves as a lighthouse for your readers, offering them a guiding light in the stormy sea of claims and evidence that make up your argumentative essay.

It will also help keep you, the writer, from getting lost in a convoluted and directionless argument.

Most importantly, a good thesis statement makes a statement. After all, it’s called a thesis statement for a reason!

“This is an interesting statement!” you want your reader to think, “Let’s see if this author can convince me.”

This blog post will dissect the components of a good thesis statement and will give you 10 thesis statement examples that you can use to inspire your next argumentative essay.

The Thesis Statement Dissected

Before I give you a blanket list of thesis statement examples, let’s run through what makes for a good thesis statement. I’ve distilled it down to four main components.

1. A good argumentative thesis is focused and not too broad.

It’s important to stay focused! Don’t try to argue an overly broad topic in your essay, or you’re going to feel confused and unsure about your direction and purpose.


Don’t write, “Eating fast food is bad and should be avoided.”

This statement is too general and would be nearly impossible for you to defend. It leaves a lot of big questions to answer. Is all fast food bad? Why is it bad? Who should avoid it? Why should anyone care?

Do write, “Americans should eliminate the regular consumption of fast food because the fast food diet leads to preventable and expensive health issues, such as diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.”

In this example, I’ve narrowed my argument to the health consequences related to a diet of fast food. I’ve also chosen to focus on Americans rather than everyone in the universe. (Because, as we all know, inhabitants of the faraway planet Doublepatty 5 require the starches and fats inherent in fast food to survive).

2. A good argumentative thesis is centered on a debatable topic.

Back in the ‘80s, teens loved to say “that’s debatable” about claims they didn’t agree with (such as “you should clean your room” and “you shouldn’t go to that movie”). This age-old, neon-colored, bangle-wearing, peg-legged wisdom holds true today—in your thesis statement.

Don’t write, “There are high numbers of homeless people living in Berkeley, California.”

No one can argue for or against this statement. It’s not debatable. It’s just a fact.

An argument over this non-debatable statement would go something like this:

“There are lots of homeless people in Berkeley.”

“Yes, there sure are a bunch of them out there.”

“Yup.”

As you can see, that’s not much of an argument.

Do write, “Homeless people in Berkeley should be given access to services, such as regular food donations, public restrooms, and camping facilities, because it would improve life for all inhabitants of the city.”

Now that’sdebatable.

Opponents could easily argue that homeless people in Berkeley already receive adequate services (“just look at all those luxurious sidewalks!”), or perhaps that they shouldn’t be entitled to services at all (“get a job, ya lazy loafers!”).

3. A good argumentative thesis picks a side.

I went into a lot of detail about the importance of picking sides in my post The Secrets of a Strong Argumentative Essay. Picking a side is pretty much the whole entire point of an argumentative essay.

Just as you can’t root for both the Yankees and the Mets, you can’t argue both sides of a topic in your thesis statement.

Don’t write, “Secondhand smoke is bad and can cause heart disease and cancer; therefore, smoking should be outlawed in public places, but outlawing smoking is unfair to smokers so maybe non-smokers can just hold their breath or wear masks around smokers instead.”

A wishy-washy statement like this will make your reader scratch his head in puzzlement. Are you for smoking laws or against them? Yankees or Mets? Mets or Yankees?

Pick a side, and stick with it!

Then stick up for it.

Do write, “Secondhand smoke is just as harmful as smoking and leads to a higher prevalence of cancer and heart disease. What’s worse, people who inhale secondhand smoke are doing so without consent. For this reason, smoking in any public place should be banned.”

4. A good thesis makes claims that will be supported later in the paper.

As I explained in my blog post How to Create a Powerful Argumentative Essay Outline, Your claims make up a critical part of building the roadmap to your argument.

It’s important to first include a summary of your claims in your thesis statement. During the course of your essay, you will back each of your claims with well-researched evidence.

Don’t write, “Humans should relocate to Mars.”

This statement doesn’t include any supporting claims. Why should humans move to Mars? What are the benefits of moving to a planet without oxygen or trees?

Do write, “It is too late to save earth; therefore, humans should immediately set a date for their relocation to Mars where, with proper planning, they can avoid issues of famine, war, and global warming.”

This statement includes some thought-provoking claims. The reader will wonder how the author plans to defend them. (“Famine, war, and global warming can be easily avoided on Mars? Go on…”)

Now that you understand the four main components of a good thesis statement, let me give you more thesis statement examples.

10 Thesis Statement Examples

Finally, I’ve come up with 10 debatable, supportable, and focused thesis statements for you to learn from. Feel free to copy these and customize them for use in your own argumentative essays.

There are a couple of things to be aware of about the following examples:

  1. I have not done the research needed to support these claims. So some of the claims may not be useable once you dig into them.
  2. Be careful not to use these thesis statements word-for-word; I wouldn’t want you to get in trouble if your teacher did a copy/find Google maneuver on you!

#1. Why Vaccinations Should Be Mandatory

Inspired by this sample essay on vaccinations.

Today, nearly 40% of American parents refuse to vaccinate their children due to a variety of unfounded fears. Vaccinations against diseases such as polio, rubella, and mumps, should be mandatory, without exception, for all children of the U.S. who wish to attend school. These vaccinations are critical to the control and eradication of deadly infectious diseases.

#2. Government Surveillance Is Harmful

Inspired by this sample essay on government surveillance.

Government surveillance programs do more harm than good because they invade civil liberties, lead innocent people to suffer unfair punishments, and ultimately fail to protect the citizens that they are designed to safeguard. For these reasons, programs such as PRISM operated by the NSA should be discontinued.

#3 Financial Compensation for Organ Donors

Inspired by this sample essay on organ donation.

People who sign up for organ donation freely give their hearts and other organs, but this free system limits the number of available donors and makes it difficult for recipients to access lifesaving transplants. Thus, organ donors should be financially compensated to produce more available organs and, at the same time, to decrease profitable, illegal organ harvesting activities in the black market.

#4. Our School Is Too Dependent on Technology

Inspired by this sample essay on technology dependence.

Our school’s dependence on technology has caused students to lose the ability to think independently. This dependence has caused a greater prevalence of mood disorders, memory loss, and loneliness. Educators should combat these issues by requiring students to participate in regular technology detoxes.

#5 School Officials’ Should Fight Cyberbullying

Inspired by this sample essay on cyberbullying.

Bullying has extended far beyond school and into cyberspace. Even though these acts of aggression take place outside of school boundaries, school officials should have the authority to discipline students who engage in cyberbullying without fear of reprisal. Doing so will help improve the online behavior of students and decrease incidences of cyberbully-related suicide attempts.

#6 The U.S. Media Should Update the Depiction of Traditional Families

Inspired by this sample essay on families.

The U.S. media depicts the traditional family as being comprised of a mother, father, and children; however, this notion of the traditional family is outdated and can be harmful to children who look to this as the gold standard. The U.S. media should, therefore, expand and redefine the definition of the traditional American family to include divorced and remarried parents, extended families living together, and families with same-gender parents. This will increase the overall sense of happiness and well-being among children whose families don’t necessarily fit the mold.

#7 Student Loans Should Be Forgiven

Inspired by this sample essay on student loans.

Crippling student debt is stifling the growth of the U.S. economy because it inhibits graduates from being able to spend money on consumer goods and home purchases. To alleviate this, lenders should be required to forgive student loans in cases where students are unable to repay their debts. Doing so would benefit the growth of the economy by increasing tax revenues, unfreezing credit markets, and creating jobs.

#8 Marijuana Should Be Legalized

Inspired by this sample essay on legalizing marijuana.

Marijuana has numerous medical applications, such as treating symptoms of epilepsy, cancer, and glaucoma. Legalizing the use of marijuana in the U.S. will greatly benefit the medical sector by giving physicians access to this lifesaving drug.

#9 Foreign Aid to Africa Does Not Work

Inspired by this sample essay on foreign aid to Africa.

Sending foreign aid to African countries is doing more harm than good, and it should be discontinued; the practice has caused African countries to become vulnerable to inflation, currency fluctuations, corruption, and civil unrest.

#10 China’s One-Child Policy Should Be Reversed

Inspired by this sample essay on China’s one-child policy.

China’s one-child policy was intended to help control population growth. Instead, it has led to unintended and negative consequences, such as a diminishing labor force, an aging population, the neglect of basic human rights, and an unbalanced gender population. To improve China’s situation, the policy should be reversed.

Any one of these thesis statement examples will get you started on the road to writing an awesome argumentative essay. Once your essay is finished, feel free to send it to a Kibin editor who can check it for grammar, sentence structure, and the strength of your thesis.

Good luck with your essay!

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

Writing Thesis Statements for Argumentative Essays

Introduction

University writing often requires students to use persuasion: they need to convince readers of a logical viewpoint on a debatable subject. The thesis statement is usually one sentence in the essay’s introduction that clearly states the writer's opinion and it often appears after some general background information about the issue. The thesis statement acts as a short summary of the writer’s stance in the debate, helping readers understand what will appear in the rest of the paper. Assignments may not state clearly whether a thesis statement is necessary, but if it asks you to take a position on an issue, analyze, interpret, compare and contrast or show cause and effect, you are probably expected to develop a persuasive thesis. (If you are not sure, it is wise to ask your instructor if the assignment requires a thesis statement.)

Developing a Thesis

Before you write a thesis statement, it is important to spend time reading academic articles to gather general background information about the issue. You need to evaluate the findings and arguments of different writers and decide which ones you think are the strongest and most convincing, which ones have the most credibility and which ones will help you write persuasively. Reading recent research will help you to decide your position and write a stronger, well-informed argument. Understanding and critically weighing others’ ideas will guide you towards developing a clear, logical and convincing thesis statement.

Thesis Statements: 4 points to remember

1. MAKE IT DEBATABLE

The first important point is that thesis statements must be debatable. (There is no point writing a persuasive argument if everyone already agrees!)

Example of an un-debatable thesis statement:

'Drinking too much alcohol may cause health problems.'

This is weak because it would be very difficult to build a persuasive argument that drinking too much alcohol would not cause health problems: most people (and doctors) already agree that it would.

Example of a debatable thesis statement:

'Alcohol should contain warning labels about the possible dangers of over-drinking.'

This is debatable because people can agree or disagree with the proposal. Some might agree that alcohol labels should contain warnings about the dangers of drinking while others may feel that warning labels would be ineffective as they would not stop people from drinking. Therefore, it is a good thesis statement.
The first point to remember then is that thesis statements must provide room for disagreement and debate.

2. MAKE IT SPECIFIC

Thesis statements should be specific, not general. The following thesis statement is too general:

'Drinking alcohol is harmful.'

This statement is too broad and unfocused because it does not specify:

*Who drinking alcohol harms
*What drinking alcohol harms
*What the main reasons are that make drinking alcohol harmful

Asking specific 'Wh' questions can help narrow your focus and make your paper more manageable.

The following thesis statement is more persuasive because it is focused:

'Alcohol consumption may negatively impact university students’ GPA.'

As this statement provides specific answers to the questions above, it significantly narrows the possibilities that the writer can write about and provides a clear focus for the entire argument.

Here are two more examples of focused thesis statements:

'A four-year university programme is better than a three-year one because students have more time for deeper learning.'
'Hong Kong will not become a world class city until it tackles its air pollution problem.'

The second point to remember then is that a thesis statement should be specific.'

3. HAVE ONLY ONE CONTROLLING ARGUMENT

As you can see from the examples above, a good thesis statement has only one controlling (main) argument:

'Alcohol should contain warning labels about the possible dangers of over-drinking.'
'Alcohol consumption may negatively impact amongst university students’ GPA.'
'A four-year university programme is better than a three-year one because students have more time for deeper learning.'
'Hong Kong will not become a world class city until it tackles its air pollution problem.

It is important that your thesis statements also contain only one controlling argument. Supporting details can be discussed in depth later in the essay's body paragraphs that follow the introduction.

4. MAKE IT CLEAR AND CONCISE

As you can see, good thesis statements use clear language and not too many words. It is important that your thesis be clear so that your readers know exactly what your position is. There should be no confusion, such as in the following poor example:

'Many people from around the world have different opinions about whether teenagers under eighteen years of age should be able to get a driving license and drive a vehicle or not and I tend to agree with some of them but not with others.'

This example is poor for a number of reasons. First, it is too long and ‘wordy’ (it uses too many unnecessary words which can be omitted). Second, the opinion of the writer is not clear to the reader. A better example of a thesis would be:

'Teenagers under eighteen years of age should not have driving licenses as most are not mature enough to handle the responsibility of driving.'

This thesis statement is much better as the writer’s position is very clear, and uses a minimal number of words. Clear and concise should be your goal in all writing, but it is especially important when writing a thesis statement.

Summary

Remember! When you include a thesis statement in your introduction that is…

1. debatable
2. specific
3. has only one main argument
4. is clear and concise

…your essay will be focused and your reader will know exactly what to expect in the body paragraphs that follow your introduction. With a little practice, you can write high quality thesis statements that bring focus to all of your argumentative essays.

More information and practice with thesis statements:

http://create.arizona.edu/content/weak-thesis-statements-recognizing-and-fixing-them
http://www.uark.edu/campus-resources/qwrtcntr/resources/handouts/thesis.html
https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/588/01/
http://depts.washington.edu/owrc/Handouts/How%20to%20Structure%20and%20Organize%20Your%20Paper.pdf

Now do the interactive activities on the right.

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