Monday, March 28, 2005

The Argument Clinic

Before we dive into any juicy arguments here, let's sqaure away a few preliminaries. You have to enter this arena with the heart of a truth-seeker. "Arguments" aren't about egos, or politics, or even "defending the faith." Arguments are about finding the truth. An argument isn't an emotional battle using hurtful words. An argument, in the formal sense, is a group of statements containing premises and a conclusion in which the premises are given as support for the conclusion. Two people don't have an argument, they discuss an argument. An argument is not an event, it is a case for or against something.

Here are some tips for constructive arguing:

  • Believe you may be wrong – the foundation of all helpful dialogues; don’t even bother without it
  • Take the other person seriously – respect, seek to understand
  • Watch out for emotions – yours and theirs (they may be speaking from emotions – don’t respond to that)
  • Be a truth-seeker – are you honestly after truth, or just out to make your point?
  • Do your homework – don’t just expect people to take your word for it; have some evidence or research to back it up
  • Assertions vs. arguments – just saying “George Bush is a moron” is not an argument
  • Know when to walk away – if you or they get too emotional or disrespectful

In a nutshell, HUMILITY. If we can agree to discuss issues with this kind of demeanor, then we can produce more light than heat.


Anonymous joel said...

Let me get this straight. Are you saying that there is no argument that George Bush is a moron? (tongue planted firmly in cheek)

8:03 PM  

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