I found an interesting infographic (at the end of the article) which shows 30 ways to lose an argument. I do not agree with everything that the infographic shows as cause for losing an argument… and this is because I have a different way of looking at what an argument is… based on the standpoint of what purpose I feel argument itself serves in my experience in getting along with others.
This is how I see most so-called arguments going down…
Party A makes a statement. Party B disagrees. And they both tell each other why they are right or why the other is wrong, most of the time speaking over each other in the “process”… to the effect that a friendship is broken or degraded.
This is not true argument as it serves no purpose other than to exercise the self-inflicted need for dysfunction with the goal of dominating the other.
The way I see it, an argument isn’t about whether or not a statement is objectively true, but rather about whether or not both statements are objectively valid… and thus a compromise can be reached so cooperation can continue. This way of thinking spins what an argument is on its head for most people.
That said, sometimes someone will say something subjectively valid and someone else will try and form an argument by disagreeing… not seeing that the initial statement is a subjective one and therefore attempting to agree or disagree is an exercise in ignorance. This may be because the one who spoke the subjective statement was not clear enough concerning that it is a subjective statement, or it may be because the other does not have enough going on subjectively that identifying a subjective statement from someone else is difficult to the point of assuming it is an absurd, inaccurate, or incomplete objective statement. I think this is the main reason for so-called arguments among adults… the assumption that subjectivity is being presented as objectivity. So, two things should be practiced:
1. When making subjective statements… make them clearly indicating that they are subjective, such as by introducing them tactfully.
Concerning [the topic], I feel that….
This is probably only my own opinion, but….
2. When hearing statements, try in earnest to determine whether or not it is an objective or subjective statement before disagreeing.
Remember, there can be no true argument concerning subjectivity! Everybody’s subjectivity is valid and true, but that validity and truth is not argumentatively valid when it comes to objectivity.
So, getting back on track… I say again… an argument isn’t about whether or not a statement is objectively true, but rather about whether or not both statements are objectively valid… and thus a compromise can be reached so cooperation can continue. So, it is true that one party or the other cannot win or lose an argument. The argument itself is a win or a loss.
The argument itself is a win when cooperation continues despite partial disagreement… thus a new statement is arrived at by both parties agreeing to its objective truth or validity.
The argument is itself a loss when cooperation stops… because there is no compromise.
Argument is not necessary if both parties are socially skilled enough that disagreement over particulars is irrelevant to successful cooperation. But do not avoid arguments for the sake of seeming socially skilled enough that they are not necessary. Argument is a good thing… it is necessary to how we learn to work together more efficiently, so avoiding argument for uppitty-ups’ sake is a slippery slope to indifference.
As an exercise, go through each fallacy in the infographic and ask yourself whether or not you agree or disagree with that it is a logical fallacy… and why. Please share in the comments section anything you come up with that might make for interesting conversation.
Do you enjoy argumentation or is it a burden to your relationships?
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About me, the author… Troy Boylan
Ecoculture Village Founder & President, Anthropology BA, Interdisciplinary Studies: Ethnobotany BS. Two things I think are worth anything at all… all things wilderness and ecoculture… and well, RPGs… and skateboarding!
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