October 29, 2008

Argue effectively

Does excellent debating argue the idea or argument itself, or the argument as presented?

Debating against the idea may encourage more growth, but may misinterpret the meaning.
Debating against the argument as it was explained to you increases the likelihood of winning the argument or even convincing your opponent, but the response may not hold up under closer scrutiny.

Does your answer change depending on the circumstances, (real life or a debate round)? Why or why not?


Hayley said...

I'm a big fan of arguing against the argument as it is presented. It's simpler and easier to follow that way. The most evil thing in a discussion is a misunderstanding, and arguing the argument as presented circumvents misunderstandings.

But it's also fluffier. We can't always assume arguments are going to be presented to us devoid of fallacies, assumptions, or back stories. Often the more powerful arguments are the ones that challenge the very premise of the original argument.

But those are harder to pull off. I think they're both good modes of argumentation, but I prefer the former because it forces us to analyze the argument head-on, and is ultimately more persuasive.