Proposal argument papers are often assigned in freshman composition college courses. They prepare students to write the type of papers they will be asked to write throughout their college careers, and they are good practice for professional life. According to MiraCosta College, in proposal argument papers, also called problem-solution papers, the writer must name a problem, establish why it is a problem, propose a solution and examine the solution's feasibility, acknowledging weaknesses and addressing them if possible. Additionally, a proposal argument should discuss how the solution might be implemented.
A College- or Workplace-Community Problem
Perhaps adequate parking is a problem on a college campus. The writer will state the problem and a thesis--an arguable proposal that will solve the problem. The writer will establish the problem with solid numbers. Perhaps the school gives out 1,000 parking permits, but there are only 700 parking spaces on campus. Solutions might include paving more green space, allowing fewer parking permits, or not allowing freshmen to bring cars to campus. After listing all three possible solutions, the writer will address each, listing and explaining the pros and cons. Finally, the writer will introduce his proposed solution, which will eliminate option one, paving green space, but combine options two and three, issue fewer parking permits and make a no-car-on-campus rule for freshmen. This way, the college will no longer have to issue so many parking permits, and freshmen and other walkers can be accommodated by installing bicycle racks and allowing walkers to check out public bikes from a bicycle "library".
Notice that the writer will first make proposals other than the final, best proposal which combines two solutions. This eliminates the possibility of a reader pointing out other obvious solutions, and it eliminates objections to the final proposal by addressing its weakness. In this way, the paper is well-developed.
A Community Problem
Many communities have downtowns that were once filled with locally owned businesses, but that have fallen into disrepair since the advent of malls, which are mostly dominated by chain stores. The problem in this case may be that much of the community's spending money leaves the area, except for local sales tax and minimum wage jobs. The writer will have to establish the problem by using statistics from the sales tax revenues. Solutions might include boycotting the malls, grant funding to rejuvenate the downtown with landscaping and face-lifts for the buildings, tax incentives for local entrepreneurs to locate downtown, and hiring an event programmer to develop downtown event ideas and implement them. The writer will need to explain how these solutions will and won't work and discuss implementing the best one, a combination of them, or a whole other solution, such as razing the whole area and giving developers tax incentives to build condos.
A National Problem
Industrial cities across the country now often have high unemployment rates. After establishing the problem with solid numbers and discussing the social and economic repercussions of high unemployment, the writer will introduce solutions that people commonly suggest, such as stopping immigration and ending outsourcing to other countries. The writer must explain why these solutions won't work if that is what her research indicates and arrive at viable proposal and discuss its implementation. Perhaps the research suggests that a combination of re-training workers to work in technological industries, rather than factories, combined with federal tax incentives for technological companies to establish themselves in industrial cities that suffer from high unemployment will work. Addressing national problems is challenging because of the scope of the necessary research, and implementation may include daunting tasks such as proposing federal legislation to allocate funding for the proposed solution.
Cat Reynolds has written professionally since 1990. She has worked in academe (teaching and administration), real estate and has owned a private tutoring business. She is also a poet and recipient of the Discover/The Nation Award. Her work can be found in literary publications and on various blogs. Reynolds holds a Master of Arts in writing and literature from Purdue University.