How to Argue in a Civilized Manner

Discussion in 'Members Corner' started by t_co, Jun 25, 2013.

  1. t_co

    t_co Senior Member Senior Member

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    I see a lot of bad debaters on DFI. This does not mean their views are therefore invalid, but it does make actual discussions here excruciatingly difficult to conclude. How can you actually argue when one (or even both) side(s) are delivering blatant non sequiturs, selectively quoting evidence, launching ad hominems and tu quoques left and right, and resorting to other fallacies such as Argumentum ad populum, poisoning the well, false dilemmas, equivocation, circular reasoning, No True Scotsman, etc.

    You can't, at least not in the traditional sense of arguing two (or more) viewpoints to find a truthful conclusion. Sure, you can make the other side mad or make them look stupid, but what's the point in that? The point of going to a forum is to educate and be educated. Proper argument etiquette is essential to that.

    Note: this is an advanced course - this assumes you have already absorbed all the basic lessons of forum etiquette in the DFI rules thread.

    First, read up on logical fallacies.

    Fallacy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    List of fallacies - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Second, apply them your own posting and the posting of others to DFI.

    Some of the more common fallacies you'll encounter are "ad hominem" (e.g. the poster is Chinese/Pakistani/Sri Lankan/American/NRI, ergo their point of view is invalid by virtue of them being guilty of the same issue or some unrelated issue.) Basically, it's using personal attacks or attacks on a group as a substitute for attacking the argument.

    This sort of arguing gets you nowhere, since it has essentially opened up a new argument without properly concluding the old one.

    In this vein, tu quoque (or the pot calling the kettle black) is a special form of ad hominem - because even though one side may be guilty of an issue, that should not preclude it from having a valid argument against the guilt of the other side.

    Third, read up on famous debates to get a sense of how you can "win" debates in the proper fashion. I'd recommend Greco-Roman oratory as a starting point, leading up to famous modern debates like the Lincoln-Douglas series.

    If everyone could apply these three points on DFI, this forum would become much more productive. We'd also all take one small step to becoming barristers - and that's surely a worthwhile goal, is it not?
     
    W.G.Ewald, aragorn and Payeng like this.
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  3. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Suggesting the usual Chinese way of 'arguing' with your gov t?

    Like so?

    [​IMG]
     
  4. t_co

    t_co Senior Member Senior Member

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    Ray, I have a lot of respect for your military experience, but your recent posting has left me disappointed.
     
  5. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    When the argument/ debate is not aimed to inflame, the best of a person comes out. Otherwise, it does dip.

    John Tillotson, Archbishop of Canterbury, had said - To be able to bear provocation is an argument of great reason, and to forgive it of a great mind.

    I am trying by best to follow his advice, but I will concede I have still many miles to go to achieve it and other posters are not helping me on the way with less provocative posts! ;)

    Isn't this more of the rule for posters than an exception?

    And is this fault, if indeed it is, since it is perception that decides the value of the post, not universal?
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2013
  6. W.G.Ewald

    W.G.Ewald Defence Professionals/ DFI member of 2 Defence Professionals

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    @t_co may be setting the bar too high for the rest of us.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 10, 2015
    arnabmit and AVERAGE INDIAN like this.

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