本帖最后由 lila 于 2013-12-17 07:05 编辑 |
Claim: The best test of an argument is its ability to convince someone with an opposing viewpoint. Reason: Only by being forced to defend an idea against the doubts and contrasting views of others does one really discover the value of that idea.
The author opines that the merit of an argument resides in its ability to change the opinions even of those with dissenting views. I however believe, that the strength of an argument is ascertained not only in convincing others to agree but also in an ability to listen to and reconcile opposing perspectives. Socrates emphasized the importance of seeking the truth of the matter as opposed to the ability to win an argument. This view characterizes an openness of thought and the willingness to acknowledge that one’s initial ideas could be expanded and developed or in fact be completely wrong. This process of seeking the truth is fundamentally based on a dialectical process seeking reconciliation amongst different points of view and has in its ethos the larger goal of enriching the outcome.
Admittedly, whether the merit of an argument can be accepted as an idea of great value and importance depends on whether its points of view are convincing and persuasive enough. Component parts of arguments, like their inner logic and supporting evidences, must be factually and logically reliable in order to deal with doubts and skeptic challenges from various perspectives. In the realm of science, for instance, theory innovations though having its genesis in disagreeing with the existing principles would not be made solid and sound by a few talents proposing ostensibly and allegedly imaginative and attractive perspectives, but instead the reliable outcomes of careful and thorough calculations, or at least logically reasonable extrapolations, are necessitated for the arguments to have the ability to convince challengers and defend the core values of the innovations. A government policy, to be popular with and accepted by the denizens, also need to be capable of persuading at least the majority of representatives of the citizens to authorize their approval. Otherwise, any argument or idea that the government possesses could be of little use than some wasteful nonsense proposed by hypocritical demagogues.
However, compared with an argument’s convincing power, its ability to accommodate and reconcile opposing perspectives is the most powerful part lying in the core competitiveness of this argument. Although it has been mentioned above that for science reliable and solid evidence and logical reasoning are of great scientific importance, the truly great and game changing innovations, such as the principle of relativity created by Albert Einstein, are indeed some elegant combinations of the knowledge acquired by predecessors and the newer perspectives of more recent ways of thinking. In the process of creating this theory, Einstein himself was engaged in years of discussion through many exchanges of letters and ideas with others who held different or even totally opposing points of view. His persistent belief that a better, more unified theory can reconcile all the existing theories of physics helped him in this epic discovery. Preclusion of one view over another would not have created a synergy with the total exceeding the sum of its parts.
Any single view is also likely to reflect the sentiments only of the puissant and tends to be limited and even distorted. If socialists and leftists do not question the government; vested interests of the capitalists and the mercenary gain the government can derive from them would become the sole considerations for promulgating policies, which would be detrimental to the interest of the proletariat. Examples of such scenarios abound in real life and a latest incident in India where a raging media debate between the government, industrialists and the laity concluded in the industrial house relocating to another location in order to safeguard the interests of the farmers, is testimony to the fact that the ability of an argument to reconcile dissenting ideas better serves the majority. In situations like these, trying to convince all stakeholders towards a common viewpoint could result in an impasse which can be avoided through a discussion where each party tries to see the perspective of the other and willingly arrive at a common decision.
A rich and lively debate amongst people of dissenting opinions also stimulates the progress of all concerned stakeholders. Through complete discussion, the participants develop critical thinking skills and empathy that enables them to view the situation from different points of view of the others. By seeking to transcend differences, they can develop their own beliefs more thoroughly and by critically evaluating various views of others they can nurture the cognitive skills to identify fallacies and weaknesses in the ideas of both theirs and their opponents. Additionally, listening to counter arguments is the fastest way to promote learning and indeed many educational institutions worldwide use debates as means to pique the interests of students to explore, research and get into the depth of the topic. All these skills are of life importance and enable debate participants to make huge contribution in great width and depth.
In conclusion, it has been highlighted that the merits and values of an argument lie not only in its ability to convince others with solid evidence and logical reasoning, but also in whether it harbors enough room for reconciliation of dissenting and even opposing perspectives, and discussion amongst different opinions in depth and width is the most effective way to ameliorate and improve an argument.