• Baden
    8.7k
    EFFECTIVE ARGUMENTS

    Argumentation at its best, in writing, and especially in academic writing, requires an approach that forgoes the appeals to emotion and rhetorical trickery that are often effective in face-to-face interactions in favour of a more systematic and sober approach that can stand up to reasoned scrutiny.

    In one way, building an effective argument is like fortifying an area against unwanted intruders and in another like constructing a set of steps that slowly but surely lead your target to a set destination. The common thread in the apparently opposing metaphors here is that the rational reader, in terms of their conclusions, only goes where you want them to.

    Effective arguments tend to include the following elements:

    • A Claim
    • Reasons and Evidence
    • A Warrant

    THE CLAIM

    The first fundamental element of an argument is your claim. What is it that you want to argue for? This is open and differs widely depending on your field. So, your claim, for example, may be to do with the physical (scientific), the mental (psychological), the social (sociological), the aesthetic (artistic), or the metaphysical (philosophical). The type of claim you make will determine the nature and quantity of reasons and evidence necessary to support it. A narrow claim is likely to need much less support to be convincing than a broad claim. On the other hand, reasons and evidence for a broad claim may be much easier to come by.

    Examples of Claims

    • Scientific (narrow): The silver-cheeked toadfish has begun to inhabit Algerian coastal waters.
    • Sociological (broad): Systemic racism still exists in the United States.
    • Psychological (broad): People are more likely to engage in violence when in large groups.
    • Artistic (narrow): In terms of technique, The Mona Lisa is Da Vinci’s most accomplished work.
    • Metaphysical (broad): The universe exists independently of our perceptions and thoughts.

    Significance and Relevance of Claims

    If the goal is to have people engage with your claim then it must be of some significance to them. There’s little point in making claims that are generally accepted or are of so little import that nobody cares that you made them.

    REASONS AND EVIDENCE

    When you’re sure your claim matters, then you need to go about supporting it. And the direction of support goes from reasons to evidence to sources of evidence. Reasons differ from evidence in that they may be entirely your own and stated in the abstract (for example, logical connections), whereas evidence generally comes from elsewhere and appeals to the concrete, i.e. data, statistics, verifiable facts etc. This is why reasons may require evidence to buttress them whereas evidence does not necessarily require anything to support it other than a verifiable source.

    Examples

    Suppose you make the following claim (taken from one of the examples in the previous section):

    Systemic racism exists in the United States.

    This is very broad so evidence and reasons may not be hard to find. It’s also certainly a significant claim, so it’s likely to be of importance and attract interest. Finally, it’s a politically loaded claim (the implications of it being true or not true are relevant to policy-making decisions that may benefit or disadvantage particular groups). The consequence of the last factor is that though there may be plenty of reasons and evidence available and the claim may be relevant, it is still likely to meet many objections and require strong support in order to overcome these objections.

    With that in mind, suppose you provide the following reason for your claim:

    Racial minority groups in the US, such as Blacks and Hispanics, are imprisoned at higher rates than Whites.

    So, you’ve made progress in your argument. You’ve provided a reason. But we’re not finished yet. There are many objections that can still be made. The most obvious one is “How do you know that?”

    Here is where evidence comes in. You want to demonstrate that the above is true. And you may draw evidence from primary, secondary, or tertiary sources to do this.

    • Primary Source: Direct experimental/empirical evidence. For example, observations, photos, videos,
    • data from an experiment carried out by the authors of the source etc.
    • Secondary Source: Reputable commentary on the above. For example, a book that mentions experimental data gathered from other researchers.
    • Tertiary Source: Summary or synthesis of data from secondary sources. For example, reference books, encyclopedias, textbooks, dictionaries etc.

    As should be clear from above, the most direct, most detailed, and therefore the strongest evidence is likely to come from primary sources.

    With that in mind, you provide the following evidence as support for your claim:

    https://www.issuelab.org/resources/695/695.pdf

    This is a paper in which the researchers have gathered detailed data, particularly from Bureau of Justice statistics, on incarceration rates across the United States. It can be considered a secondary source as the researchers did not come up with the statistics themselves but gathered them from elsewhere. Considering the easily accessible and referenced primary source though, this can be considered strong evidence of the reason for your claim.

    Again, progress has been made. But this is where it’s important not to consider the argument complete but to imagine possible objections to it. These objections are likely to come in two main forms: objections to your evidence and objections to your reasoning.

    Objections to Evidence

    Your evidence may be objected to on several grounds

    • Objections to the source
    • Objections of accuracy
    • Objections of sufficiency
    • Objections of relevance/specificity

    Objections to the source
    Readers may feel your source is unreliable, outdated, or biased.

    An example of an unreliable source could be Wikipedia where information can be changed quickly and by anyone. The site does have some failsafe mechanisms to avoid high levels of misinformation, and it can provide some limited support to an argument, but it can’t be considered reliable enough for academic purposes and would certainly be challenged in that area. Blog articles and other online sources may also be considered unreliable if their authors lack relevant qualifications etc.

    Sources could be challenged as being outdated if they are not recent enough relative to the pace of change in the field they deal with. The faster the knowledge of a particular area changes, the less useful older sources are. Areas such as quantum computing and biogenetics are likely to require very up-to-date sources, for example.

    If your argument has political implication, as the above example does, evidence from sources considered to have some stake in one side or the other could be considered biased and therefore unacceptable. A more clearly neutral source than a blog or a newspaper could fairly be demanded.

    Objections of accuracy
    The evidence you provided may be questioned on its accuracy in a number of ways. You may be challenged on your presentation of a given source’s data or your interpretation of it and also on your source’s methodology in gathering this data and/or procedures for processing it even if your source is considered authentic and reliable.

    Objections of sufficiency
    Even if the data comes from a reliable source and is considered accurate, it may not be sufficient to support the point you want to make. Relying on one study to make a particular point may not be acceptable depending on the scope of your claim. Very often cross-referencing data from different sources may be necessary to provide adequate support. But even if you do that, if the type of evidence you are presenting is not strong enough in relation to the point you want to make, it may still not be considered sufficient.

    Objections of relevance/specificity
    Somewhat related to the previous point, your evidence may be questioned on its relevance to the specific claim you are making. Evidence can only count as evidence if it connects to the claim made. And the stronger the connection the better.

    Objections to Reasoning

    Your reasoning may be objected to on several grounds

    • Logical objections
    • Objections of strength
    • Objections of relevance

    Logical Objections
    Logical objections focus on the form of reasoning, which may include logical structure and implications either within a single reason (intra-consistency) or across several reasons (inter-consistency). Logical fallacies, of which there are many (a few of the more common ones are listed here) are typical objections in this sphere.

    Objections of strength
    Objections of strength may focus on whether or not, despite consistency, you have enough reasons to support your claim. Very broad claims may require a large network of supporting reasons to make them compelling, whereas narrower claims may be compelling even on the basis of a single well-supported reason.

    Objections of relevance
    Though your reasons may be logical and plentiful enough, they may be objected to on the basis of how relevant they are to the actual claim, and if that is a possibility then you should prepare a warrant to help strengthen the connection between your reason and your claim.

    THE WARRANT

    The warrant is probably the part of preparing an argument that is least familiar to most people and is probably best dealt with through example.

    Let’s take the claim we focused on above:

    Systemic racism still exists in the United States.

    The reason given (and we’ll stick to one for simplicities sake) was:

    Racial minority groups in the US, such as Blacks and Hispanics, are imprisoned at higher rates than Whites.

    The evidence provided showing that the above is true was taken from here:

    https://www.issuelab.org/resources/695/695.pdf

    That’s all fine; however, the link between the reason and the claim may be questioned. It may be accepted that there is irrefutable evidence that Blacks and Hispanics are imprisoned at higher rates than Whites, but consistently denied that this represents systemic racism.

    A warrant can provide the link needed to overcome this objection (and show that the reason is warranted ).

    For example:

    When it comes to sentencing, Black and Hispanic convicts are treated more harshly for similar crimes than their White counterparts.

    If this general principle can be established then the higher rates of imprisonment are contextualized as an instance of the racially discriminatory practice outlined.

    In other words:

    • The warrant must be a fact (there must be racial discrimination in sentencing).
    • The reason must also be a fact and an instance of the warrant (higher rates of imprisonment for Blacks and Hispanics must happen and be an example of this discrimination).
    • The claim must be part of the consequence of the warrant (systemic racism must be at least partially a consequence of racial discrimination in sentencing).

    Potential Issues with Warrants

    Warrants obviously aren’t a guarantee of a good argument and may be attacked for similar reasons as other parts of your argument. They may be considered unjustified due to a lack of evidence, ungeneralizable, or limited in some other way. Again, you may have to go through a process of buttressing your warrant against attack with more levels of reasoning and evidence in order to make it strong enough to carry your claim. And the more formal your argumentative context, the more likely the inference from general principle to specific instance in your warrant is likely to be challenged and solid evidence is more likely to be sought after (with the balance of hard evidence and reasoning required also dependent on the field in which the claim is made and the type of claim made).

    SUMMARY

    Putting all this together: When you go about constructing an argument, make sure you focus both on the necessary elements of the argument and the many potential objections that may be made to it in terms of its form (e.g. is it logical?) and its substance (e.g. is it well-supported?). Do not dismiss objections on the basis of what may seem obvious to you. Instead, work on the supposition that your reader will demand as much clarity as possible as to what your claim is and how you are supporting it and as much quantity and quality of support as you could reasonably be expected to give.

    So when forming an argument:

    • Make a clear and significant claim which you are able to support.
    • Include reasons/evidence and a warrant where necessary to back up your claim.
    • Provide reliable and relevant primary and/or secondary sources.
    • Take the perspective of someone doubtful of/antagonistic to your claim.
    • Imagine as many objections to your claim as you can.
    • Strive to meet them all using reasons, warrants, and hard evidence where possible.

    Sources

    College, E. (2019). LibGuides: Research Skills Tutorial: Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Information Sources. Subjectguides.esc.edu . Accessed 7 Nov. 2019.

    Turabian, K. (2003). Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations. (7th Edition): Univ. of Chicago Press. Chicago.
  • Baden
    8.7k
    (Thought this might be useful for the learning centre and @Amity asked me to do it. So, there you go.)
  • fdrake
    2.8k
    This is some good shit. Recommend pinning it.
  • uncanni
    338
    This is great information. I have a question: How to respond to people who make irrelevant or intentionally trollish attempts to derail your initial argument?

    If the response is irrelevant, one can get caught up in a labyrinth of trying to steer someone who doesn't really understand the initial premise back on track; as for trolls, how do we get them to go back into the woodwork and stay there?
  • praxis
    1.7k
    I listened to a lecture series about argumentation awhile back and in it a point was made that in many disputes that lead to argumentation a clear resolution is elusive, and therefore the value of persuasion (rhetoric and appeals to emotion) should not be overlooked.
  • Artemis
    1.5k
    An example of an unreliable source could be Wikipedia where information can be changed quickly and by anyone. The site does have some failsafe mechanisms to avoid high levels of misinformation, and it can provide some limited support to an argument, but it can’t be considered reliable enough for academic purposes and would certainly be challenged in that area.Baden

    I would not cite Wikipedia in an academic article, perhaps, but it's been proven to be quite reliable for information: https://www.nature.com/articles/438900a

    I certainly think it's an adequate source of information for a forum discussion, especially when you're trying to do something basic, like prove that foxes are not felines, or that Pluto is considered a dwarf planet, or that Kant was German.
  • Baden
    8.7k
    This is some good shit. Recommend pinning it.fdrake

    Cheers bro', will pin it in resources.
  • Banno
    6.5k
    Yes. well done.
  • Baden
    8.7k
    How to respond to people who make irrelevant or intentionally trollish attempts to derail your initial argument?

    If the response is irrelevant, one can get caught up in a labyrinth of trying to steer someone who doesn't really understand the initial premise back on track; as for trolls, how do we get them to go back into the woodwork and stay there?
    uncanni

    Give a shot at clarifying it. If that doesn't work, ignore them because no matter how much of a failure these people are at argumentation, they are likely to still succeed in frustrating you and wasting your time (which—if they are a troll—is their main goal anyway). On here, you can always use this, temporaily or permanently, as required: https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/5738/ignore-list-browser-extension . And then concentrate on those who are offering sincere challenges or requests for clarification.
  • Baden
    8.7k


    Thank you, oh purveyor of Bannoism and all things goatish.
  • ZhouBoTong
    557
    I would not cite Wikipedia in an academic article, perhaps, but it's been proven to be quite reliable for information:Artemis

    thank you for that. studies have already addressed this misconception. It is not that wikipedia is perfect, but that "reputable" sources like encyclopedia Brittanica are similarly imperfect. And the wildly inaccurate additions are quickly fixed on wikipedia.
  • ZhouBoTong
    557
    Argumentation at its bestBaden

    I am not sure this thread is the place for this (just say so - or ignoring me always works, haha), and I certainly like the way you have laid out arguments; however, I can't help but wonder about the word "best". Is the "best" argument the most logically/structurally sound, or the one that is most likely to convince the other side? Your post almost suggests they are the same thing, but I would struggle to accept that for most people I have met (it works for me though :grin:).

    I am a bit over-literal and under-emotional so I can struggle with rhetorical appeals (hence I like the style of argument you described), but there are times where other people can be quickly convinced with, for example, an emotional appeal. Take the average person having a bad day, I can use logic and reason to show them that they are in control of their own attitude, and try to convince them to be happier. I have tried this many times, and it almost never works. But then I see other humans have success where I failed. What was their reasoning? They walked up, gave the person a big hug, and empathized. A few minutes later, the other person feels better. Every time I see it, I get mad at myself for forgetting that simple option (not that I could do it anyway, but I should be aware of the solution). I get the situation I described hardly counts as an argument, but it shows the potential power of rhetorical appeals.

    Just wondering your thoughts...
  • 180 Proof
    382
    Effective arguments tend to include the following elements:

    • A Claim
    • Reasons and Evidence
    • A Warrant

    [ ... ]

    SUMMARY

    Putting all this together: When you go about constructing an argument, make sure you focus both on the necessary elements of the argument and the many potential objections that may be made to it in terms of its form (e.g. is it logical?) and its substance (e.g. is it well-supported?). Do not dismiss objections on the basis of what may seem obvious to you. Instead, work on the supposition that your reader will demand as much clarity as possible as to what your claim is and how you are supporting it and as much quantity and quality of support as you could reasonably be expected to give.

    So when forming an argument:

    • Make a clear and significant claim which you are able to support.
    • Include reasons/evidence and a warrant where necessary to back up your claim.
    • Provide reliable and relevant primary and/or secondary sources.
    • Take the perspective of someone doubtful of/antagonistic to your claim.
    • Imagine as many objections to your claim as you can.
    • Strive to meet them all using reasons, warrants, and hard evidence where possible.

    Sources

    College, E. (2019). LibGuides: Research Skills Tutorial: Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Information Sources. Subjectguides.esc.edu . Accessed 7 Nov. 2019.

    Turabian, K. (2003). Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations. (7th Edition): Univ. of Chicago Press. Chicago.
    Baden

    Excellent. Not quite a troll-killer app, but well done nonetheless. :clap: :clap: :cool:
  • Amity
    867
    (Thought this might be useful for the learning centre and Amity asked me to do it. So, there you go.)Baden

    It is more than useful, it is bloody brilliant.
    My original request can be found here:
    https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/22/currently-reading/p23
    A: I think you should write an article on 'How to Write an Article'.
    B: Actually, I've started a blog on various aspects of writing on my site, including how to write academic articles. What I might do here is write an article on argumentation (claims, reasons, warrants, and evidence etc).

    Baden - well, words fail me. He actually killed 2 birds with one stone - hmmm, perhaps rephrase that.
    No avian cruelty involved.

    The OP is a masterpiece in Effective Writing.
    How do I know that ? Apart from the obvious joy in reading information so well structured and understandable...
    Well, from following his Sources link and then some.
    The leads include various handouts on writing e.g. like composing effective paragraphs. Worthwhile downloading.

    College, E. (2019). LibGuides: Research Skills Tutorial: Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Information Sources. Subjectguides.esc.edu . Accessed 7 Nov. 2019.Baden

    https://writing.wisc.edu/handbook/process/

    What wowed me even more was how Baden applied the lessons learned by using a significant example.
    Currently on my mind, from TPF discussion and the travelogue series 'the Americas' - racial discrimination and imprisonment.

    Examples of Claims
    Sociological (broad): Systemic racism still exists in the United States.
    Significance and Relevance of Claims

    If the goal is to have people engage with your claim then it must be of some significance to them. There’s little point in making claims that are generally accepted or are of so little import that nobody cares that you made them.
    Baden

    So, thank you for this. This inspirational piece makes me come over all aspirational and smiley :cool:
    The Learning Centre is a wonderful TPF resource. I wonder if it should be given a more prominent place.
    Let it fly high !
    :100: :sparkle:
  • StreetlightX
    4.3k
    This is really good stuff! I especially like the section on warrant, the use in this context which I'd not come across before. It's nice to have a name for something so important. I'd suggest two additional principles as well, which I tend to employ alot and think useful:

    (1) Establish your 'enemy' early (even an idealized one, if there isn't an existing one). The claim should be counterposed early on with it's opposite or competing claim, so as to -
    (2) Establish the stakes of the claim: what difference does the claim make? Against the counterclaim, what would be different or what implications would follow if either one were true or untrue? If we can establish the motivations for why this claim matters, it becomes alot easier to follow lines of argumentation.
  • Baden
    8.7k


    Hey thanks! It could do with a little more exemplification here and there, but I feel like it was an afternoon well-spent anyhow. It was either that or Cheetos, grits, and the ball-game with @Hanover. It's fine placed here for the moment but I'll talk to jrob about getting the article section of the site active again.



    @praxis made a similar point and his use of the word "persuasion" is key. A distinction can be made here. Persuasion can primarily be judged by immediate results, and, concerning method, is highly contextual and psychological. Argumentation can primarily be judged by good general practice, and is more fixed and logical (especially in an academic context). That could be the subject of an article in itself. But I'll leave it there for now.
  • 180 Proof
    382
    I'd suggest two additional principles as well, which I tend to employ alot and think useful:

    (1) Establish your 'enemy' early (even an idealized one, if there isn't an existing one). The claim should be counterposed early on with it's opposite or competing claim, so as to -
    (2) Establish the stakes of the claim: what difference does the claim make? Against the counterclaim, what would be different or what implications would follow if either one were true or untrue? If we can establish the motivations for why this claim matters, it becomes alot easier to follow lines of argumentation.
    StreetlightX

    Oh yeah, then we'd really be cookin' with grease! :100: :party:
  • Chris Hughes
    178
    Would the choice of example (systemic racism) have anything to do with your recent tussle with ubertroll Nosferatu on the colourblind thread?
  • Amity
    867
    I especially like the section on warrant, the use in this context which I'd not come across before.StreetlightX

    Yes. I hadn't heard of this before and have had to read it a few times. Still not completely sure of it.

    Establish your 'enemy' early (even an idealized one, if there isn't an existing one)StreetlightX

    Yes. You can be your own best 'enemy'.

    If we can establish the motivations for why this claim matters, it becomes a lot easier to follow lines of argumentation.StreetlightX

    Yes. Also, question motivations in choice of material. There can be an inclination to push own agenda by omitting contrary evidence.

    https://writing.wisc.edu/handbook/process/revisingargument/
    A downloadable handout with 8 specific strategies for revising an argument. No.6 might be the most challenging: Look for dissonance.

    A key to strengthening a paper through considering dissonance is to look critically—really critically—at your draft. Read through your paper with an eye towards content, assertions, or logical leaps that you feel uncertain about, that make you squirm a little bit, or that just don’t line up as nicely as you’d like. Some possible sources of dissonance might include:

    • logical steps that are missing
    • questions a skeptical reader might raise that are left unanswered
    • examples that don’t actually connect to what you’re arguing
    • pieces of evidence that contradict each other
    • sources you read but aren’t mentioning because they disagree with you.
  • Amity
    867
    I'll talk to jrob about getting the article section of the site active again.Baden

    Articles, Essays or Reviews.
    That would be good.
    A Book Review article might act as a complement to the 'Reading Groups' section.
    Then again...
  • bongo fury
    160


    I disagree.

    You have potentially an excellent forum for point/counterpoint, marred mostly (not entirely) by people writing essays at each other. And now you actually encourage them to lengthen and fortify these essays against all imagined objections, so that anyone who disagrees must be wrong, e.g. incapable of reading or otherwise misinformed, and the author will be in an even better position than they currently typically are to provide a 5-times-longer counter-objection... and so on.

    I prefer it when it seems to be about trading ideas. As opposed to persuasion, which never happens and always defaults to posturing.

    Still, whatever... but how about at least a word limit?
  • Baden
    8.7k


    This comment has virtually nothing to do with what I wrote either in terms of its intention or its substance. Short enough for you?



    :point: :up:
  • Baden
    8.7k
    Look for dissonance.Amity

    I like that. Very often a dissonant twinge can reveal a hidden premise or some other logical (or otherwise) fault or omission if we're paying proper attention. Extremely important to root these out in an academic context, whereas there is a danger of getting too granular in more informal situations.
  • Baden
    8.7k
    Oh yeah, then we'd really be cookin' with grease!180 Proof

    I bring the potatoes. Street adds the gravy. :razz:
  • 180 Proof
    382
    Oh yeah, then we'd really be cookin' with grease!
    — 180 Proof

    I bring the potatoes. Street adds the gravy :razz:
    Baden

    Along with raw onions & my dram, fellas, we won't starve anytime soon. :cool:
  • bongo fury
    160
    This comment has virtually nothing to do with what I wrote either in terms of its intention or its substance.Baden

    Admirable caricature of the standard defense of an essay fortified against all imagined objections, so that anyone who disagrees must be wrong.

    Although they might just be suggesting looking from a different angle.
  • Terrapin Station
    13.8k
    Still, whatever... but how about at least a word limit?bongo fury

    That's what I'd like to see. And it's why I prefer chat. (Actually I'd prefer conversations in person, and then via a telephone or video conferencing or something like that.) Something like a 100 or 150 word limit would be plenty. It would encourage conversations rather than people ramblingly "lecturing" at each other.
  • Baden
    8.7k


    No, really. I wrote an article on argumentation, in a general academic context, by request. I put it in resources for reference purposes (also because the article site isn't active at the moment). I didn't write this as a template for an OP either in terms of length or complexity. And I am not advising people to write essays at each other in place of regular posts so that they can presume the other person is wrong and not listen to them. Re post limits: there won't be arbitrary word limits on posts here. We mod on post quality, and excessive length is just one potential consideration in judging quality. Lastly, I'm sure there are real openings for objections to the substance of the article if you want to make them. But quote me if you're going to do that.
  • Harry Hindu
    2.5k
    Potential Issues with Warrants

    Warrants obviously aren’t a guarantee of a good argument and may be attacked for similar reasons as other parts of your argument. They may be considered unjustified due to a lack of evidence, ungeneralizable, or limited in some other way. Again, you may have to go through a process of buttressing your warrant against attack with more levels of reasoning and evidence in order to make it strong enough to carry your claim. And the more formal your argumentative context, the more likely the inference from general principle to specific instance in your warrant is likely to be challenged and solid evidence is more likely to be sought after (with the balance of hard evidence and reasoning required also dependent on the field in which the claim is made and the type of claim made).

    SUMMARY

    Putting all this together: When you go about constructing an argument, make sure you focus both on the necessary elements of the argument and the many potential objections that may be made to it in terms of its form (e.g. is it logical?) and its substance (e.g. is it well-supported?).Do not dismiss objections on the basis of what may seem obvious to you. Instead, work on the supposition that your reader will demand as much clarity as possible as to what your claim is and how you are supporting it and as much quantity and quality of support as you could reasonably be expected to give.

    So when forming an argument:

    Make a clear and significant claim which you are able to support.
    Include reasons/evidence and a warrant where necessary to back up your claim.
    Provide reliable and relevant primary and/or secondary sources.
    Take the perspective of someone doubtful of/antagonistic to your claim.
    Imagine as many objections to your claim as you can.
    Strive to meet them all using reasons, warrants, and hard evidence where possible.
    Baden
    This is the best part of the whole post.

    In other words you might have to take the time to make your argument concise and detailed and have to answer difficult questions that might require that you re-work position. Calling people trolls and blocking them would the anti-thesis of the OP.


    This is great information. I have a question: How to respond to people who make irrelevant or intentionally trollish attempts to derail your initial argument?

    If the response is irrelevant, one can get caught up in a labyrinth of trying to steer someone who doesn't really understand the initial premise back on track; as for trolls, how do we get them to go back into the woodwork and stay there?
    uncanni
    If they are irrelevant points to your position, it should be simple to point that out and shouldn't require any leg-work at all. Use the guidelines listed in the OP. Don't be lazy. Go about showing how it is irrelevant rather committing the very first logical fallacy - the ad hominem - by calling them a troll.
  • tim wood
    3.3k
    rhetorical trickeryBaden

    *sigh* As noun substantive, sure. But Rhetoric is the name of a kind of argumentation that is a) real, b) has its own proper area, c) is co-equal with argumentation that is correct in other areas. Perhaps like Metric, English, Whitworth and even more obscure standards for measurement and the tools that use them. The right tool for the job, the wrong tool an error and mistake, no matter which.
  • praxis
    1.7k


    I like the way @ZhouBoTong talked about the “best” argument. A successful argument gets others to see something your way. Logic seldom accomplishes that because people are not entirely rational beings. We have conflicting values and purposes. Anyway, rhetoric and logic are not mutually exclusive. They can be used in tandem.
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