How to Argue

Suppose you’re in an argument or debate with someone, and they dismiss your ideas without providing valid reasons in return – what do you do? Assuming the debate is real–in other words, both parties are conversing in order to get to the truth, and not for the sake of winning an argument–you can easily focus the discussion by asking the other party to state your case for you: ask them to repeat your own argument.

This will ensure you’re talking about the same thing and the other party understands your position clearly. If they don’t, you can correct them. If they do, they’ll have to refute your idea at some point using a valid reason. Of course, if they’re not interested in the truth they likely won’t do this, especially if they doubt their own position. If this happens, don’t waste your time, there’s nothing to gain here.

February 2010