In discussing many different facets of argumentation, we were forced to look at the many different nuances that comprise an argument. For something as relevant as an “argument,” it would seem fairly simple to pin down the purpose and reasoning behind its utility. However, putting such analysis into words is not as easy as it initially appears. As a continuation of this analysis, I would like to address three questions posed in class regarding argumentation:
1. Is there an instance where argument is necessary?
Though argument has its logistical inefficiencies (in that it is incredibly difficult, and in some respects impossible, to change someone’s mind when they are already entrenched in their own personal predispositions), I believe it has its place in democratic politics. The foundation of a democratic society is that all individuals can have a voice in determining the way they are governed. While arguing different beliefs may not serve a great purpose in convincing people to believe similar thoughts, it certainly serves a purpose in airing individual concerns and ideas. Arguing different ideas inadvertently brings many perspectives to the forefront of society, and in turn, creates a situation where a diverse array of thoughts can be adapted and utilized in contemporary policy.
2. Is there an instance where argument is a mistake?
One thing that becomes immediately apparent to anyone who has ever been a part of an argument is that perceptions are hard to change. In instances where ideas are divisive and completely ingrained in individual thinking, argument ultimately fails to serve its main purpose. Most would say that the whole point of argument is to convince someone else that your thinking is right, but if neither side is willing to budge in their perceptions, what is the point in even having the argument in the first place? I think that these issues inevitably become problematic when neither side is necessarily wrong but unilateral action is needed urgently. Such an example of this would be in times of national emergency or national disaster, when different political parties disagree on how to fund aid efforts. Both sides agree that aid is needed, but no one can agree on how to do it. In situations such as these I find that argument creates unnecessary problems.
3. Is it possible to have a situation where argument is both necessary and a mistake?
I believe discussions on the limitations of Earth’s natural resources fall somewhere under this category. It is very apparent that we need a way to quickly curb our dependency on limited resources such as oil and coal, but it is also apparent that we have become so dependent on these things that we can’t just phase them out entirely. Consequently, I think that it is appropriate to have an argument on the different ways we can go about fixing this. There isn’t one perfect solution to this problem, so hearing a spectrum of opinions and ideas can only benefit efforts working toward a solution. Though this discourse isn’t always efficient (as mentioned above), it is one of the few ways in which we can work toward compromises that will eventually benefit everyone.