Friday, August 8, 2014

How to Argue

At some point in our lives, we have had to argue. Be it "Cristiano Ronaldo is better than Messi", "Buhari is better than Jonathan "Red is better than Blue" or "Israel is right on Gaza" . Some arguments are subjective ; each person positing their opinions with the aim to convince the other party. Others take a more serious dimension; they are  more than just opinions they are 'provable' provided you can agree on some initial premises and the rest follows by applying logic. These types of argument require a more rigorous approach.
        When arguing your approach and your rules of logic matters.Your approach helps you remain friends with your 'adversary' and the rules of logic help you 'win' the argument.( by win, I mean convince the other person). Sometimes they just state your point. But how do you approach arguments?

How to approach arguments
You need to approach arguments with the mindset that your opponent is intelligent but misguided. Smart but needs to see it from your angle. That you just need to open his/her eyes and all else follows. That you can be wrong. That perhaps you aren't seeing his point of view.
You shouldn't approach arguments with a mentality that "I am smart, you are stupid let me prove you wrong" . Even  if you are right(or think you are), you need to understand what the other person is saying.That is critical. Consider this story: Blind Men and Elephant. Sometimes you aren't in disagreement you are just arguing about six and half a dozen.

Who do you see? An Old/Young Woman

Logical Fallacies
There is quite a list of logical fallacies. There are mainly divided into formal fallacies and informal fallacies.
Quoting Wikipedia ( yeah, I know some people's reservations about Wikipedia but it is a pretty good source)
"In philosophy, a formal fallacy is a pattern of reasoning that is always wrong. This is due to a flaw in the logical structure of the argument which renders the argument invalid. A formal fallacy is contrasted with an informal fallacy, which may have a valid logical form and yet be unsound because one or more premises are false."

Here is a list of some common ones.
Ad Hominem
Red Herring
Weak Analogy
Straw Man
False Dilemma

Arguments don't have to be a wasteful activity if approached in the right manner. You can discover errors in your reason or get exposed to a different perspective. You can learn if you are willing to. Being wrong doesn't make you stupid, refusing to concede when wrong, just might....

Check out Lynda's post on the blame game here

Got you interested in Arguments? Check the links below
Formal Fallacy
Informal Fallacy
Argumentation Theory
Robust link on fallacies: Logical Fallacies

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