Monday, 8 May 2017

Arguing with people

It's an extremely common tendency to try and justify one's position on any topic by seeking out those opponents who advance the most naive, the weakest and most ridiculous arguments. Or, when arguing with more thoughtful opponents, to attribute to them a more naive or simplistic position than the one they actually hold and attack that.

In addition, it seems that people often appear to deliberately avoid clarity and revel in being abstruse. My suspicion is they do this in order to give the impression of winning the argument. In reality though their words convey little, or indeed, any meaning.

It is admittedly very tempting to simply attack your weakest opponents. Or attack the weakest arguments against your position. Or to employ other underhanded strategies in order to "win". It's easy, requires little thought, makes you feel superior, and of course most importantly of all it garners support and admiration from those who share your sentiments and beliefs in the matter in hand.

These tactics might rally those who subscribe to your view, but do precious little . . nay . . nothing to justify your own position. If we're sincerely interested in the truth, then what is needed is to seek out those opponents who provide the most challenging and sophisticated arguments, and to address those specific arguments. If you can outargue them and even make them appear to be foolish, then you'll have some confidence that your position might possibly be correct.

1 comment:

  1. One of your greatest posts.

    I'm currently seeking knowledgable people to argue in favor of materialism as having the best explanation of laws (or preferably, "patterns") of nature.

    I've spoken to dozens of materialist who think the "that's just the way it is, get over it" is actually a valid argument (the fellow who said that is a psychology professor in England - and despite several follow up attempts to discern some kind of rational basis for his comment, he remained convinced this was actually a logical defense of materialism).

    I'd love to find someone who has thought this through, thoroughly, and still believes in materialism.

    I've been looking since the whole 'patterns of nature' question occurred to me as the ultimate destruction of materialist belief, back in 1987. I still haven't found an intelligent response. If anyone here has one, I'd love to hear it.


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