Using “on the other hand” to concede a point

Advice for lawyers writing legal briefs:

[In legal writing,] weak arguments are risky: “[A] weak argument does more than merely dilute your brief. It speaks poorly of your judgment and thus reduces confidence in your other points.”… On the other hand, the law is what a majority of judges say it is — so an argument you consider weak may provide a basis for forming a majority.

Persuasive Legal Writing by Daniel U. Smith

In this passage, Daniel Smith makes two somewhat contradictory claims:

  1. Strong arguments are better than weak arguments.
  2. A weak argument may win the case if the judge happens to agree with it.

Smith uses the phrase “on the other hand” to concede, or admit, that his first argument isn’t always true. First he makes a strong claim; then he qualifies his strong claim by conceding, or admitting, that there are exceptions to the rule.

This is a standard feature of academic writing, one that is important to master.

AND SEE:
The reader over your shoulder
Concession words

M.O.’s paragraph using a transition that expressions ‘concession’

The Grimms made their tales more violent in the second edition. For example, they increased the punishing of evildoers: the step-sisters have to cut off their heels or toes to make the shoe fit. They also increased cartoon violence, with the step-sisters having their eyes taken out by birds. Although they increased cartoon violence and unrealistic violence, they reduced realistic violence, taking out the story of the starving children whose mother wants to eat them to survive.

AND SEE:
The reader over your shoulder
Concession words

“The reader over your shoulder”

On making concessions, a skill novice writers typically have yet to develop:

Although as writers it is important to construct a strong argumentative thesis and develop it over the course of an essay, it is equally important to avoid tunnel vision and to take into account positions on the issue in question that do not necessarily agree with our own. In a book called The Reader over Your Shoulder (1943) by Robert Graves and Alan Hodges, the authors urge that writers should always compose their argument as if they had a crowd of people reading over their shoulders and asking questions. In other words, writers should try to be cognizant of possible weaknesses or omissions in their logic and should anticipate what a “devil’s advocate” might point out about their argument. This approach to writing will encourage you to shore up your weaknesses and foresee any possible objections to your line of thinking.

Opposing Opinions and Making Concessions (password protected)

AND SEE:
Concession words & examples