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Arguing about arguing, and Defition of terms - A seemingly common Phenomena
in Philosophy

By ZeusAres42ZeusAres42 562 Pts edited October 11
Note: There are different kinds of argumentation and logic, but, generally speaking what is mainly referred to is either informal or formal logic. This post will deal mainly with informal logic and casual argumentation.

What I have noticed here among other debate sites as of late is that when a debate is started it isn't long until people move away from the actual topic and then start arguing about arguing. What's more is that I have also noticed that people quite often get lost in semantics and then start arguing about the definition of terms, and thus going more and more off on a tangent. Some sentences will be along the lines of:
  • "There is an error in your reasoning."
  • "Your logic is not justified."
  • "You've committed a fallacy."
  • "That's an appeal to emotion."
  • "That's an appeal to authority."
  • "That's an ad-hominem."
  • "That's not the meaning of Atheism."
  • "That's not the true definition of Agnosticism."
  • "That's not how you define unfalsifiable."
  • "That's not what knowledge is."

The above is just a partial list of statements that are overused, overrated, and generally only serve to annoy people as well spoil the fun out of the discussion for others, and as well as drive people to differ from the original topic of the argument.


When it comes to argumentation I think the following needs special notice:
  • An argument does not necessarily need all premises to be true, factual, or correct for it to be logically valid. Arguments can still contain false information (Premises) and still be logically valid.
  • Fallacious doesn't always mean weak, incorrect, untrue or non-factual. There are often one or more exceptions to the rules of many fallacies.
  • Beware the argumentum ad logicam (AKA argument from fallacy fallacy). https://www.logicallyfallacious.com/tools/lp/Bo/LogicalFallacies/51/Argument-from-Fallacy. This is quite a common thing for people to do when they first come across information about fallacies; I also know this from experience since I used to frequently do the same, and still at times do but very rarely nowadays. However, this doesn't just apply to information in regard to logical fallacies; it can apply to many things; sometimes when we come across things that seem novel to us cognitive biases come running to the surface, and we become prone to seeing patterns where none exist. 
  • Beware the Fallacy Bully. Unfortunately, you may find people that think they're logically superior to you, and will be quick as hellfire to point out any fallacy they suspect you have made; that's not what Critical Thinking is about and rational discourse is about! https://criticalthinkeracademy.com/courses/informal-fallacies/lectures/1106563
Note: Two points previously included in the above in regard to what constitutes as either a weak or strong argument have been omitted subject to further revision.


The above is also basically just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to logic and argumentation. Here's also some more information and with some example in reference to one or more of the above points:

Arguments need premises and a conclusion (the conclusion is also sometimes known as a premise too). Premises by the way are basically just reasons given to support a conclusion. Now, for the argument to logically follow the premises do need to be assumed true although they may be technically false. Here is an example of an argument in standard form where the information is technically untrue but logically valid:

Premise 1: "All brown haired people are bad-tempered."

Premise 2 "My uncle has brown hair."

Conclusion: "Therefore, my uncle is bad-tempered."

As you can see the above argument logically follows even though one of the premises is false.


Here's another example but one which does contain true premises but the argument is logically invalid:

Premise 1: Beer contains alcohol.

Premise 2: Wine contains alcohol.

Conclusion: Therefore, Beer is Wine.

Now, as you can see from this example the conclusion does not logically follow from the premises even though both premises are true.



Other important things to consider include the following:
  • The use of emotive language is not an appeal to emotion fallacy. It might also help us to note that we human beings are not quite like "Spock" yet; we are in fact creatures more of emotion than of logic. Furthermore, even if someone is expressing how they feel in an argument that does not automatically undermine the truth and/or validity of their argument in its entirety. All too often I have come across people that simply claim someone is making a fallacy of emotion simply because they were merely using emotive language; this is quite common among people that are new to fallacies, logic and argumentation though. In short, the use of emotive language in conjunction with a strong and logically valid argument can be highly persuasive to both the hearts and brains of many! https://www.logicallyfallacious.com/tools/lp/Bo/LogicalFallacies/29/Appeal-to-Emotion
  • Deferring to authority is not an appeal to authority fallacy. Deferring to authority is a reliable and helpful heuristic where appealing to authority is indeed a fallacy. Here's also an excerpt from a reputable source and a link to that source: Here is an excerpt from a reference on the "Appeal to Authority fallacy and the link to that reference: "Exception: Be very careful not to confuse "deferring to an authority on the issue" with the appeal to authority fallacy. Remember, a fallacy is an error in reasoning. Dismissing the council of legitimate experts and authorities turns good skepticism into denialism." https://www.logicallyfallacious.com/tools/lp/Bo/LogicalFallacies/21/Appeal-to-Authority

In regard to getting lost in arguments about the definition of certain terms it might be helpful to try:
  • If you're not the OP then try to examine the content of the main message that is being conveyed within the argument and go from there instead of changing the way the OP has defined certain terms (AKA changing the parameters). This will actually help you a great deal with your debating and argumentation skills.
  • If you are the OP and this is being done then try to agree on an idea so you can make progress with the main message that you're trying to convey. If that doesn't work, then omit the use of certain terms, try to keep it as simple as possible and continue to convey the main message. If all else fails and the other person is continuing to argue according to their own changed parameters then you are most likely wasting your time; move onto someone else who is much more able to keep on topic.
Just one other thing in regard to above is to also remember that some people will often make the Definist Fallacy when regarding certain subjects. This is done to make the position of user who is committing this fallacy much easier for him/her to defend. In addition to committing this fallacy the user doing it is also cheating themselves the potential to learn, progress, and develop their debating and argumentation skills. Reference: https://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/acref/9780199541430.001.0001/acref-9780199541430-e-846

Lastly, just to reiterate on a point I made earlier one other thing to take into account is those of us who have a deep interest in logic, psychology, philosophy, and argumentation etc is that when we come across new things' relation we may become overzealous and as a result start to see patterns where none exist. I guess the best thing here is to study the same subject material at least more than once; probably 3 or more times.


References and further resources (Some free and some Premium):







TKDBAini대왕광개토MattGould

The unexamined thought is not worth thinking.




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Arguments

  • AiniAini 32 Pts
    edited October 10
    I appreciate you for taking the time to put all this together, although i feel that's quite a list to take in.

    Incomplete list:

    (edited for clarity)
    - Arguments are arguing, not the people behind them.

    - Be clear and hold-up the other person to be clear in his definitions as well, that we are all talking about the same thing.

    - Be if you can, a child listening the other persons argument, then pause, take the time, dissect them, and then give your response.
    ZeusAres42
    I'm a non-native speaker and if my text seems weird it's because i come from a different background, among other things.
  • Aini said:


    Incomplete list:

    - Subjects are arguing, not the people.

    Thanks. Could you just tell me what you mean by this bit?

    - Be clear and hold-up the other person to be clear in his definitions as well, that we are all talking about the same thing.

    - Be if you can, a child listening the other persons argument, then pause, take the time, dissect them, and then give your response.

    I do like this and agree with you hear. This way of engaging also helps with one's own continues learning and personal development too I might add.





    The unexamined thought is not worth thinking.

  • 대왕광개토대왕광개토 165 Pts
    edited October 10
    @ZeusAres42 What you posted is spot-on and insightful. Users on this site should see your post.
    MattGouldZeusAres42
  • arguing over semantics is a waste of time the rest is perfectly legitimate
    MattGouldZeusAres42
    The passion for destruction is also a creative passion. Mikhail Bakunin

  • AiniAini 32 Pts
    Aini said:


    Incomplete list:

    - Subjects are arguing, not the people.

    Thanks. Could you just tell me what you mean by this bit?


    It could be rephrased better, but what i meant was that "subject matter is arguing" or rather "arguments are arguing" -not the people behind them. U can argue that the policies done to Jewish people in the Second world war -time era were great for keeping the population growth in check, thus giving greater chance for rest of the people to sustenance.

    And if u do so in a logical, argumented and reasoning way I'd gladly take you up on the debate.

    Debate is made to test the reasoning alone, and only it.
    I'm a non-native speaker and if my text seems weird it's because i come from a different background, among other things.
  • MattGouldMattGould 47 Pts
    edited October 10
    @ZeusAres42 Your actually wrong, a argument in order to be considered logically valid, has to be a true statements in some capacity. This is logic 101. Ask any logician and he will tell you that this is the case. So your whole argument is flawed from this point on just purely based on that one wrong point you made. Also, how can you say that truth doesn't matter when making an argument, if someone says something logically or factually wrong, it's wrong. We should all have to point that out in order to help the person making the argument understand what they are doing wrong.  

    Also, a lot of the other things you said in this statement you made are just flat out wrong. Appeal to authority is a logical fallacy. It's a fallacy because you are referring to someone else's knowledge rather than your own to justify an argument. Which shows us, the people reading the post and those that do understand logic, that you don't know what your talking about. 

    https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/
    ZeusAres42
    "If you want total security, go to prison. There you're fed, clothed, given medical care and so on. The only thing lacking...is freedom."-Dwight D. Eisenhower

    "It is not strange...to mistake change for progress."-Millard Fillmore

    "The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities."-Ayn Rand

    "To disagree, one doesn't have to be disagreeable."-Barry Goldwater


  • AiniAini 32 Pts
    @MattGould
    MattGould said:
    @ZeusAres42
    Which shows us, the people reading the post and those that do understand logic, that you don't know what your talking about.
    Before you commit a fallacy by attacking the credibility of another you can pause for a bit and try to remember it's about the arguments.
    Also, a lot of the other things you said in this statement you made are just flat out wrong.  
    It's also a good practise to quote the direct passages that are being referred. This is just to make sure that when the comment chain reaches a 10+ message length that it's still actually feasible to verify who said and what. And also to keep the interpretations to a minimum.
    ZeusAres42
    I'm a non-native speaker and if my text seems weird it's because i come from a different background, among other things.
  • @Aini first off I will admit I did commit a logical fallacy and that was wrong and hypocritical of me, and also kind of rude. So I apologize.

    secondly, I did mention what it is you said in my reply. It was your statement about the appeal to authority fallacy.
    "If you want total security, go to prison. There you're fed, clothed, given medical care and so on. The only thing lacking...is freedom."-Dwight D. Eisenhower

    "It is not strange...to mistake change for progress."-Millard Fillmore

    "The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities."-Ayn Rand

    "To disagree, one doesn't have to be disagreeable."-Barry Goldwater


  • ZeusAres42ZeusAres42 562 Pts
    edited October 11
    MattGould said:
    @ZeusAres42 Your actually wrong, a argument in order to be considered logically valid, has to be a true statements in some capacity. This is logic 101. Ask any logician and he will tell you that this is the case. So your whole argument is flawed from this point on just purely based on that one wrong point you made. Also, how can you say that truth doesn't matter when making an argument, if someone says something logically or factually wrong, it's wrong. We should all have to point that out in order to help the person making the argument understand what they are doing wrong.  

    Also, a lot of the other things you said in this statement you made are just flat out wrong. Appeal to authority is a logical fallacy. It's a fallacy because you are referring to someone else's knowledge rather than your own to justify an argument. Which shows us, the people reading the post and those that do understand logic, that you don't know what your talking about. 

    https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/
    Ok, there is a fair bit of material here, and so we will dissect it bit by bit.


    Your actually wrong, a argument in order to be considered logically valid, has to be a true statements in some capacity.

    Arguments need premises and a conclusion (the conclusion is also sometimes known as a premise too). Premises by the way are basically just reasons given to support a conclusion. Now, for the argument to logically follow the premises do need to be assumed true although they may be technically false. Here is an example of an argument in standard form where the information is technically untrue but logically valid:

    Premise 1: "All brown haired people are bad-tempered."

    Premise 2 "My uncle has brown hair."

    Conclusion: "Therefore, my uncle is bad-tempered."

    As you can see the above argument logically follows even though the premises are technically false. I will grant that there is at least one thing I could have improved here which is perhaps phrasing what I said a bit better to avoid any confusion that might have led to this particular response. My OP will be edited to try to ensure that confusion like this doesn't happen again.


    Here's another example but one which does contain true premises but the argument is logically invalid:

    Premise 1: Beer contains alcohol.

    Premise 2: Wine contains alcohol.

    Conclusion: Therefore, Beer is Wine.


    This is logic 101. Ask any logician and he will tell you that this is the case.

    Having the privilege of actually speaking with and studying a certain amount of stuff with both logicians and philosophers I can confirm that at least according to my own experience with them they don't talk like this. Furthermore, I am pretty confident they will confirm that what I have said from above is correct. However, If you do think there is a flaw in my argument here and you want to know if a Logician does too then feel free to ask one of them here: https://www.logicallyfallacious.com/tools/qa/Bo/LogicalFallacies. Not only will you find Logicians here that will be able to clarify any errors you will also experience how they actually communicate to other people.


    So your whole argument is flawed from this point on just purely based on that one wrong point you made.

    Firstly, the point being referred to here was not wrong, albeit I will grant that I could have worded things a little better. Secondly, I am not entirely sure that at least an informal argument can be concluded as completely flawed based on one minor error in detail. It just doesn't make much sense to me to generally say that "just because you made a minor error then everything you say is wrong, and your whole argument is flawed."


    Also, how can you say that truth doesn't matter when making an argument

    I have just examined my OP again and  cannot find anywhere within it that I stated or implied this bit here. 


    if someone says something logically or factually wrong, it's wrong
    If I may I would like to rephrase this is so it is more valid. So, If something (not someone says) is logically wrong or factually wrong then it is wrong. Just because someone says something is wrong does not mean it is wrong.

    We should all have to point that out in order to help the person making the argument understand what they are doing wrong. 
    No one is obliged to point out the errors in reasoning of others. With that being said I agree it is helpful to try to get the other person to see the other side that we ourselves deem to be more logical and valid. However, there are good and bad ways of being helpful in a debate; you can either be an a*hole and say something like "You made a fallacy, you're wrong, aha, one up for me!" or you can be a bit more diplomatic and civil in your approach.

    Also, a lot of the other things you said in this statement you made are just flat out wrong.
    Can you elaborate on the other things at all? And by elaboration I mean can you explain what things specifically are wrong, why there wrong, and what you mean by wrong i.e. factually wrong or logically wrong or both?

    Appeal to authority is a logical fallacy. It's a fallacy because you are referring to someone else's knowledge rather than your own to justify an argument. Which shows us, the people reading the post and those that do understand logic, that you don't know what your talking about.

    It appears that you most  Ilikely didn't read property what I actually said here. I never said that "Appeal to authority" is not a fallacy. What I said was this which you can also scroll up verify was this:

    • Deferring to authority is not an appeal to authority fallacy. Deferring to authority is a reliable and helpful heuristic whereas an appeal to an authority refers basically to making an argument based on any random authority figure.  

    Here is an excerpt from a reference on the "Appeal to Authority fallacy and the link to that reference: "Exception: Be very careful not to confuse "deferring to an authority on the issue" with the appeal to authority fallacy. Remember, a fallacy is an error in reasoning. Dismissing the council of legitimate experts and authorities turns good skepticism into denialism." https://www.logicallyfallacious.com/tools/lp/Bo/LogicalFallacies/21/Appeal-to-Authority

    The unexamined thought is not worth thinking.

  • AiniAini 32 Pts
    MattGould said:
    @Aini first off I will admit I did commit a logical fallacy and that was wrong and hypocritical of me, and also kind of rude. So I apologize.
    I just wanted to give a thumbs up for this. It displays you have character. I have to say this but you're not the only one undermining another's credibility in this thread. That is all.
    MattGould
    I'm a non-native speaker and if my text seems weird it's because i come from a different background, among other things.
  • @Aini thanks man.  :)
    "If you want total security, go to prison. There you're fed, clothed, given medical care and so on. The only thing lacking...is freedom."-Dwight D. Eisenhower

    "It is not strange...to mistake change for progress."-Millard Fillmore

    "The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities."-Ayn Rand

    "To disagree, one doesn't have to be disagreeable."-Barry Goldwater



  • @Aini first off I will admit I did commit a logical fallacy and that was wrong and hypocritical of me, and also kind of rude. So I apologize.

    secondly, I did mention what it is you said in my reply. It was your statement about the appeal to authority fallacy.

    Well, thanks for this post, but I am not Aini. I am sure you meant me when you mentioned the statement about "the appeal to authority"

    Secondly, as already pointed out in a previous post I never said that an "appeal to authority" (AKA argumentum ad verecundiam)" was not a fallacy.

    Thirdly, thanks to your response I was prompted to make some minor adjustments to my original post so it makes for easy reading, and that I am grateful for. Well, at least I hope it makes for easier reading haha.


    The unexamined thought is not worth thinking.

  • arguing over semantics is a waste of time the rest is perfectly legitimate
    If the subject itself is semantics then whether or not it's a waste of time rests on personal preference. Otherwise, yes, constantly arguing about the definition of a term and making the definist fallacy over and over is of no use any one.


    As for the other bit you said I don't know what you're referring to as perfectly legitimate?


    The unexamined thought is not worth thinking.

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