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  1. #11
    Furry Critter with Claws Kiddo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FineLine View Post
    If I'm watching or participating in a genuine debate, I personally would prefer that the two sides both be strong partisans of their sides. I don't see the process of debate necessarily being about learning from each other and reaching a consensus. I see it more as both parties making a strong statement of their sides, i.e., being "mouthpieces" or advocates for a point of view. If the material is new to me in any way, then I want to hear a strong representation of each side. That often best happens in an adversarial atmosphere. From there I can make up my mind or do my own research.

    Of course, debate isn't the right format for everything. In many circumstances I would prefer an collaborative, consensual approach to common problems.

    But if a true debate format is chosen and the material is new to me, then I would prefer to hear the sides expressed in an adversarial manner so that I can hear the strongest possible expression of the views and maybe see things from a different perspective. Sometimes I really need to be shaken hard from a preconception. If the debate is short-circuited and two people representing differing views are too quick to work out their differences and reach consensus, then I sometimes I wonder if I haven't heard the whole story.
    I like that point of view. Well said.

    After reading that post I would have to say that debate does have it's place. But the first part in not being intimidating or asinine, is knowing when it is appropriate. Sometimes collaboration will be superior, but I can see how often all that is necessary is just a good argument.

    Quote Originally Posted by FineLine View Post
    Debate isn't necessarily about "the win." Someone can present their side poorly but still intrigue me as to why they feel so strongly about their side. They can make me want to hear more and delve deeper.

    IOW, win or lose, the airing of differences has value in and of itself.
    I do stand corrected. If debate can inspire beyond the rhetoric, then it certainly has value.

    However, for the record, I do believe that inciting passions (like alcohol) is both the cause and solution to all of the world's problems.

  2. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiddo View Post
    I like that point of view. Well said.

    After reading that post I would have to say that debate does have it's place. But the first part in not being intimidating or asinine, is knowing when it is appropriate. Sometimes collaboration will be superior, but I can see how often all that is necessary is just a good argument.



    I do stand corrected. If debate can inspire beyond the rhetoric, then it certainly has value.

    However, for the record, I do believe that inciting passions (like alcohol) is both the cause and solution to all of the world's problems.
    Thanks. I agree that things have to be kept in perspective. Mere passion for a cause is not convincing by itself, and bullying is way out of bounds. It does take some experience to know good debate from mere manipulation.

    OTOH, I think of the times across the years when I was really dragged around to see a new viewpoint (gay rights, racial issues, etc.). And it was usually in an adversarial debate where someone clung doggedly to their point of view and fought for what they believed in (even if they didn't express themselves brilliantly). Sometimes it took a lot to shake me from my complacency. And so I needed that kind of adversarial shock to wake me up and make me wonder what they were seeing that I was missing.

  3. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by FineLine View Post
    Thanks. I agree that things have to be kept in perspective. Mere passion for a cause is not convincing by itself, and bullying is way out of bounds. It does take some experience to know good debate from mere manipulation.

    OTOH, I think of the times across the years when I was really dragged around to see a new viewpoint (gay rights, racial issues, etc.). And it was usually in an adversarial debate where someone clung doggedly to their point of view and fought for what they believed in (even if they didn't express themselves brilliantly). Sometimes it took a lot to shake me from my complacency. And so I needed that kind of adversarial shock to wake me up and make me wonder what they were seeing that I was missing.
    I think that kinda proves that what is really inspirational and has the greatest capacity to change people isn't so much debate but sticking to what you believe. Debate may provide a means of demonstrating your beliefs but what really has the power to challenge a person's views, is holding to your truth. So in essence, while debate may divide us by our beliefs, it also helps us define who we are as individuals, what we value, and what we are willing to accept. Where debate loses it's value is when we try to use it to persuade rather than to demonstrate. If our truth is valid, then the example will be clearly seen, and proof will be accepted by those willing to accept it.

    Of course, I think that runs contrary to what others have said. Since they would rather detach themselves form their debate. I can't see how that kind of debate has any real value. In fact, if people are to get anything from it, it sounds like disagreement is a necessary part of debate. Sadly, I find that when one side is detached and the other is emotionally involved, it forms the greatest formula for disaster. So maybe the next step in not being intimidating or asinine should be choosing opponents who you know aren't emotionally attached to the issue. Unless of course you wish to argue your truth, then you would probably want someone who is emotionally attached to the issue to debate.

  4. #14
    Senior Member ptgatsby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiddo View Post
    Of course, I think that runs contrary to what others have said. Since they would rather detach themselves form their debate. I can't see how that kind of debate has any real value. In fact, if people are to get anything from it, it sounds like disagreement is a necessary part of debate. Sadly, I find that when one side is detached and the other is emotionally involved, it forms the greatest formula for disaster. So maybe the next step in not being intimidating or asinine should be choosing opponents who you know aren't emotionally attached to the issue. Unless of course you wish to argue your truth, then you would probably want someone who is emotionally attached to the issue to debate.
    I think there are multiple levels of debate. Debate in and of itself is simply a form of interaction. It's a game of sorts - some play to win, some play for fun, some play to learn...

    When different players come at it with the same reason, they are only playing it for that reason. Formal debates are just that... and to me, a waste of time (sorry Fineline!) because of what you highlighted here. The focus on the quality of argument is strangely anti-open. On the other hand, the passionate ones often bring more to the table (the issue matters) in the sense that it has meaning rather than just strategy.

    Even though I'm not a debater at heart, the purpose it serves for me is to refine actions and plans, find better solutions and improve the topic on hand. I believe that when a common goal exists and the debate is based around achieving the goal (rather than drawing lines against each other), the plan of many conflicting but unified people tends to be superior to a unified group that is in agreement. That's the only debate I really get invested in.

  5. #15
    filling some space UnitOfPopulation's Avatar
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    Default Good argumentation - what's needed to get it and what's not

    This conversation comes up in different forms, and I wonder why. I've grown to suspect my understanding of the english word "argument".

    First of all, I have found how to conduct honest, productive and beneficial arguments. These actually benefit both the participants and give us possibility to arrive at a correct conclusion that relates well to reality. There has been doubt as to whether such arguments can actually exist, so here I provide my guide as to how to make them happen. I have given my best effort to describe something that I know to exist and something that I experience often and enjoy to great benefits. I hope this can be useful for you without making me seem intellectually intimidating.

    We shouldn't discuss whether or not "argumentation" is desirable or not without defining what arguments hold. I think lot of the attitude AGAINST arguments come from the image of throwing kitchen utensils against each other, shouting match, or resorting to unrelated facts, personal attacks, verbal abuse or fraudulent use of argumentation tactics. It is intuitively (and correctly) clear to healthy persons that such aspects of an argument are to be avoided.

    I'll go to the bottom of this: good argumentation requires utmost intellectual and practical honesty from oneself. Period. It means that one should never use argumentation tactics that one knows to falsely advocate a particular viewpoint. The optimal argumentation - which would provide the optimal outcome for both participants - collapses under such tactics, if the both parties don't recognize the tactics as such early enough. After some time (and handling the issues brought up in the argument), the argument is then often taken into a paradox, contradiction, inconsistency or other undesirable outcomes, which inhibit the participants from coming into a VALID and acceptable conclusion, except by a chance of luck, perhaps.

    There are numerous kinds of intuitively convincing statements that are actually flawed. This is almost invariably unclear to beginner argumentators. They tend to use these, accidentally or purposefully, giving bad name to "arguments" and propagating the idea that "anything can be proven" so it does not make sense to attempt to prove anything. Here is a short list:
    *Appeal to authority
    -Person A is (claimed) to be an authority on subject matter S
    -Person A makes a claim C about subject S
    -Therefore, claim C is true.

    *Begging the question (I'll do an example)
    -I have a plan that will improve our company's profits.
    -We are already maximally profitable (taking the subject of argument as a premise of one's own argument), so we can't get improvement from that plan.

    *Circumstancial ad hominem
    -Person A makes a claim C.
    -Person A would benefit from the claim C being true.
    -Therefore, person A is biased in the claim C, and C is false.

    One has to get rid of the habits of using such convincing, erroneous tactics. I have found it very efficient to arrive to good outcomes in a conversation where neither one of us uses any of such tactics, a good outcome being a somewhat common goal. Goals can be partially or completely common: the more collaborative the goal, the less incentive is there to resort to fraudulent argumentation tactics.

    This is why there is a need for judge in a courtroom. The lawyers could do all the arguments by themselves, but if there is no-one to set standard that the proper tactics are used and the improper are not used, the system collapses and will be unable to produce the desired outcome.

    Two benevolent persons who are knowledgeable about the dangers of false arguments and have a common goal, that of knowledge, improvement and learning, are in a better likelihood to be able to conduct a successful argument that produces desirable results for both participants.

    The range of successful outcomes that an argumentation can produce is determined by the reality of the subject area, argumentation rules, adherance to them, starting points to the argument, and knowledge, goodwill, skills of the participants, and adherence to the reality. In the other end, it is rather impersonal, rules are followed well, and the outcome is mostly decided by the reality of the subject area, not by the skill of the participants. This is accomplished by the previously mentioned measures, plus that of having adequately skilled participants. The skill is more like a barrier to entry, the skill isn't the sole factor.

    In the other end, we have dishonest participants who don't know the subject area well enough, are unskilled in honest negotiation tactics and so resort to fraudulent tactics, giving both the participants a feelining that something unexplainably false. It leaves a bad taste in the mouth and does little to convince the either side.

    In my model, if both participants have an adequate skill for the subject area, and neither are dishonest, skill levels become largely irrelevant. If either (or both) participants have inadequate skill for the task, or inadequate level of honesty, the situation favors the one participant being more skillfull and utilizing more self-serving, dishonest argumentation tactics.

    The only solution for the above problem is not to engage in arguments that are above one's skill level, a fact which many people hate to realize. A measure of honesty is also needed, as noted. Failing these requirements, knowledge and honesty will be required, or knowledge and a mediator (or a judge). Failing all of those, nothing can be accomplished, apart from learning other's point of views, and perhaps a lesson in the skill of argumentation.

    Everybody has learned to argumentate - by this description - in some subject area. For example, to agree upon whether there is milk in the fridge, or not. To improve the range of subject areas where one may successfully argumentate needs practice - it can be done, if one loves honesty and progress, otherwise the only way is to develop as a verbal fighter.

    Links: more information about good and flawed arguments and their applicability.
    Fallacies
    Atheism: Logic & Fallacies
    The Logical Fallacies: Welcome

  6. #16
    Senior Member reason's Avatar
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    "Just because I imagined it doesn't mean it isn't true."
    A criticism that can be brought against everything ought not to be brought against anything.

  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Santtu View Post
    [...]
    It's easy to say that people should understand and do all that, but in order to have beneficial arguments, both parties would have to be aware of it. I don't think many people dissect their own arguments well enough to understand what tactics they or others use or what level of honesty they are portraying.

    Not to mention there are just too many variables to consider, such as what is the ultimate goal of each opponent? To win? To improve their own understanding? To persuade their opponent? To demonstrate their rhetoric? If you have different goals, then you aren't going to have very productive debate. Also, not every person seeks consensus in debate.

    When it comes to not being intellectually intimidating in debate, I think it would mostly be a matter of experience and realizing what is appropriate and with whom. I would say it is important to know what you want from the debate, where you are going, and what you hope you accomplish. You then should then weigh what you opponent seems to be aiming for and adjust your discussion for compatibility.

  8. #18
    Senior Member substitute's Avatar
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    I know an old guy in his 80's who still does debates, he was a professor for like 50 years or something and he's probably the most erudite person I know. He manages to assert himself when appropriate but never in an aggressive way, and he asks pertinent questions, always placidly though he has a strong 'aura' or presence. He's been my role model for years.

    He tells me that his basic principles for debate are:

    1. When someone starts shouting, it probably means they've already lost.
    2. If someone is bothered by losing, they shouldn't have been there in the first place.
    3. Listen very carefully and think about what the other person is saying, instead of what you're going to say next. If you do this, then your own contributions will come of their own accord.
    4. Before replying, make a person repeat or rephrase what they said to ensure that you got the correct meaning of it.
    5. Don't be afraid to wait to make your point - don't feel you have to jump in right at the moment it comes to you. It's quite alright to say a bit later on, "going back to what you said earlier about.... have you considered...?"
    6. Keep your listening to speaking ratio at about three to one.
    7. Use good-natured humour to diffuse irritation and frustration and point out others' flawed techniques, rather than personal insults.
    8. When confronted by a person who won't let anyone else speak, ask them politely to be quiet while you hear someone else's point, and use humour to keep shushing them if they continue to butt in. For example, letting them continue to the end of their sentence before saying "have you finished?" and then turning to someone else to talk about something totally unrelated to what the jerk was saying.

    I do try to apply these principles myself, but I have to confess that I do sometimes give into the temptation to use someone who irritates me as the butt of many jokes and jibes, hoping to force them into a lonely silence through the use of phrases like "...and of course only X would think a dumb thing like that" or "I'd sooner read one of X's essays than go around claiming something like that", so that nobody takes them seriously any more. I admit it's a form of bullying, and I'm not proud of it and I do try to curb it, but I still have to confess that I do it sometimes.
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