How To Argue And Win Using Logic

April 24, 2018

Use Logic In Your Next Argument

Part One

We all can benefit from thinking logically, but logical thinking is seldom taught in any school. Logic is all about the way you make and support an argument. An “argument” not necessarily an angry shouting match, although it can be. Think of it as a just point of view backed by evidence or reasoning.

For instance, consider the argument, “Smoking makes one die earlier than they otherwise would.” The argument that smoking is so unhealthy it limits one’s life expectancy is often met with all kinds of responses. Many have logical fallacies in them. Fallacies are errors in reasoning. You might win a swearing match or make someone look bad, but you can only truly win arguments, if you address the argument.

 ARGUMENT 1: “Smoking makes one die earlier than they otherwise would.”

RESPONSE A: “Who are you to be talking? You are lazy, sick, overweight and very unhealthy yourself!!” or

RESPONSE B: “Oh sure, you are all “healthy” now that you quit smoking, Mister High and Mighty!!”

These are examples of the fallacy that attacks the opponent, and not the argument. This is known as “Ad Hominem” which is simply Latin for “against the man.” In the smoking example, an opponent being obese does not affect the truth of the matter asserted. In particular, this type of Ad Hominem is called “Tu Quoque,” Latin for “you too.”  It is an appeal to hypocrisy, or, as Grandma Peel used to say, “It’s the pot calling the kettle black.”  (But the kettle can still be black.)  In Response B, someone being a recent non-smoker has nothing at all to do with whether the argument about smoking is true or false. In these fallacies, the fingers are pointing at each other, and not the arguments.

ARGUMENT 1: “But, Mom, you smoked when you were even younger than me, so you cannot warn me it’s dangerous and tell me not to!” (Tu Quoque Fallacy)

ARGUMENT 2: “You know, I smoked when I was a teen, it was dangerous then. And it’s dangerous now. That’s why I never want you to make my mistakes.”  (No fallacy)

The hypocrisy claim becomes a fallacy only when the arguer uses some (apparent) hypocrisy to neutralize criticism and distract from the issue of his own problem.

Mr. Peel seeks justice for those injured in motorcycle, truck and car accidents, disability and medical malpractice. He often addresses churches, clubs and groups without charge. Mr. Peel may be reached through wherein other articles may be accessed.

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