The Instigator
Daktoria
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
Jzyehoshua
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points

Personal Argumentation Is a Personal Attack

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/26/2013 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,131 times Debate No: 34216
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (17)
Votes (1)

 

Daktoria

Pro

When arguments are carried out by people, those people do not just have ideas that exist in stasis. Instead, those arguments are manifested through a faculty of reason.

However, let us consider a situation where a logical position is held through a faculty of reason. By default, if this position is contested, the contestor will check the faculty's defense. If this defense breaks down, the logical position will appear illogical even though it's not.

For example, (assuming that innocence is logical) contestors can engage in false accusations, malicious prosecution, and abuse of process by which innocents are labeled as guilty. In a society where people are treated as guilty before proven innocent, the labeled will be expected to defend against their contestors. If they cannot, then their guilt will be assumed...

...but this doesn't just apply in such a society. It also applies in a society where people are not informed of their rights. For example, perhaps we live in a society where people are treated as innocent before proven guilty, but people don't know that. In turn, when people are labeled as guilty, their defense won't know that they're entitled to keep their mouths shut, and might assume an affirmative defense. By default of not being informed of their rights, people are forced to assume the risk of making defensive mistakes.

In either society, an argument of labeling guilt is attacking an innocent party, and the innocent party's defense is being checked. Should that defense break down, one's innocence will appear otherwise.

As another example, let us assume that someone believes that 2+2=4, cat is spelled C-A-T, and the sky is blue which are all rather ordinarily logical positions.

If another perpetually claims, "Your argument is fallacious," or otherwise claims logical fallacies where logical fallacies don't actually exist, someone's defense will be perpetually checked. Assuming that people are not perfect, this will inevitably lead to the logical position appearing illogical because the defense will break down.

Therefore, personal argumentation is a personal attack. The mere contesting of one's position checks its defense, and in the case of logical positions being contested, they will eventually appear illogical.
Jzyehoshua

Con

You raise an interesting question, but I'm not sure I fully understand your argument. Would I be correct, first of all, in assuming that the gist of your argument is that an innocent or truthful side is inevitably wrongly criticized in any debate, and that they are too often wrongly blamed by the audience given their inability to properly defend themselves, incorrect assumptions by the audience, or misleading claims by the opponent?

I argue that while personal argumentation can lead to personal attacks, and unfortunately does so too often, that objective, reasonable, and blameless argumentation can prove fruitful where both debaters help one another see opposing sides without blaming one another. I suppose it depends on what you mean by personal argumentation. If you mean all debate and argumentation, then naturally that does not have to involve personal attacks since it does not have to focus on the other person with ad hominems.

So long as both debaters avoid fallacies like ad hominems/mudslinging, strawmen, cherry picking, etc., they avoid unfairly attacking the other's argument. An argument can involve reasonable people fairly disagreeing over differences of opinion where both believe what they are saying and fairly state their beliefs in search for the truth. There are so many easily-engaged-in fallacies with so few debaters who are logical enough to avoid them all that many debates inevitably occasion at least one instance of fallacious reasoning.

Ultimately though, to criticize another's reasoning is not truly a personal attack, for they are not necessarily trying to attack the other person, but reasoning they deem as incorrect. So long as they avoid the fallacy of attacking the debater rather than their debate per ad hominems, I see no reason to label this a personal attack. Ultimately we all care deeply about our cherished beliefs, the paradigms containing our most intrinsically valued viewpoints, and our apt to deem criticism of these viewpoints as personal attacks.

We feel personally about our strongest-held beliefs and it is difficult to remain objective when they are criticized, it takes effort to address the facts and ignore our emotions on the subject. However, I do believe that this ideal an attainable one that good debaters can achieve, while still respecting one another even though disagreeing on specific opinions. Ultimately, we will all disagree in some degree or another, since no one, not even twins, are true clones of one another with duplicate experiences, thought processes, etc. We can disagree with one another yet still respect one another in argumentation without engaging in personal attacks.
Debate Round No. 1
Daktoria

Pro

"You raise an interesting question, but I'm not sure I fully understand your argument. Would I be correct, first of all, in assuming that the gist of your argument is that an innocent or truthful side is inevitably wrongly criticized in any debate, and that they are too often wrongly blamed by the audience given their inability to properly defend themselves, incorrect assumptions by the audience, or misleading claims by the opponent?"

Yes. That's the gist of it. Even a merely analytic diagnostic that checks a logical side's syntax qualifies as a personal attack. For example, people have finite attention spans. They're exercised to figure out logical positions.

If attention span's exhausted to figure out a logical position, and it's afterwards contested, then a logical position will appear illogical since there's no attention span leftover to defend it with.

"If you mean all debate and argumentation, then naturally that does not have to involve personal attacks since it does not have to focus on the other person with ad hominems.

So long as both debaters avoid fallacies like ad hominems/mudslinging, strawmen, cherry picking, etc., they avoid unfairly attacking the other's argument."

To be clear, I'm not talking about ad hominems here.

"An argument can involve reasonable people fairly disagreeing over differences of opinion where both believe what they are saying and fairly state their beliefs in search for the truth."

Unfortunately, can doesn't imply must. By default, a personal argument forces the contested to assume the risk of being unreasonably checked. For example, a logical position could say something that's necessarily valid, but an unreasonable (or dishonest) person could just say, "Not necessarily!"

"There are so many easily-engaged-in fallacies with so few debaters who are logical enough to avoid them all that many debates inevitably occasion at least one instance of fallacious reasoning."

Even when this is true, it doesn't mean an accusation of a logical fallacy will necessarily match where fallacious reasoning takes place. It also forces logical debaters to be stereotyped among illogical debaters as if they're statistically insignificant.

"Ultimately though, to criticize another's reasoning is not truly a personal attack, for they are not necessarily trying to attack the other person, but reasoning they deem as incorrect."

As previous described, a contestor forces a position's holder to assume the risk of being unreasonably checked. Whether that's tried or not doesn't matter. The fact is it's unclear whether a contestor's intentions are honest or not until after experience.

"Ultimately we all care deeply about our cherished beliefs, the paradigms containing our most intrinsically valued viewpoints, and our apt to deem criticism of these viewpoints as personal attacks."

That's a very strong claim. Unfortunately, careless people exist, and when careful people are contested, they're forced to assume the risk of being contested by the careless.


Jzyehoshua

Con

Very interesting, thank you for the detailed responses. I didn't think personal argumentation with others definitely results in a personal attack, however, since you are not necessarily attacking the person, but their reasoning. By definition, an hominem is the act of attacking a debater rather than their debate, and a fallacy that is not necessarily committed.

Again, we are prone to assuming an argument against our beliefs equates to an attack against us, even though this is not the case. We feel strongly about our beliefs so when the beliefs we care strongest about are criticized, we personally feel attacked. That doesn't mean the other person is attacking us or trying to do so when they question our worldview(s). They can simply be critiquing reasoning they feel inappropriate and stating their own beliefs, and even if attacking a belief they dislike, not trying to attack those who believe it.

I argue that even if a contestor runs the risk of being unreasonably checked in any given argument, the ideal of debate is to, as Wikipedia says, "Assume Good Faith." If you've ever edited at Wikipedia, you'll know this is rarely practiced, often misinterpreted and misused by dishonest people, and in practice too often unrealistic when confronting said dishonest people. However, it is still an ideal to strive towards because one cannot assume another's intentions and motives are incorrect and that their goal is other than the truth.

I would argue that there are two actions by a contestor that indicate they are engaging in a personal attack:

(1) The use of ad hominem fallacy, using insults and, well, personal attacks to assault another's reputation in a desperate effort to make oneself appear correct and distract from a losing argument, because the dishonest contestor cares more about appearing right to the audience than being right.
(2) The use of any dishonest argumentation or other method, e.g. strawmen, cherrypicking, etc. Some debaters use these without realizing they are committing a fallacy, and use dishonest methods unintentionally, perhaps because they observed these used and thought them valid arguments. I argue that dishonesty is itself a form of personal attack since it attacks another person's ability to recognize what is true and right. In essence it attacks their ability to see truth and reason, the way the world really is, and keep them in darkness.

Ultimately however, simply engaging in persuasive conversation with another person can have the effect of helping show everyone where the truth lies so long as both debaters are honest and straightforward. As such, no personal attack is necessarily committed, and the debate can actually benefit all involved. Both sides can come away better able to argue their beliefs and understand the reasoning of both sides.

Even if one assumes the risk via debate of being carelessly checked, i.e. dishonestly and poorly accused, and this happens too often, it does not encompass all cases.
Debate Round No. 2
Daktoria

Pro

First, while it's agreed that ad hominems are personal attacks, let me reiterate that this is not criticizing the usage of ad hominems.

Second, this is not criticizing the insensitive treatment of vulnerable feelings.

Third, this is not criticizing whether or not contestors are unreasonably checked. This is criticizing whether contestors are unreasonably checking position holders.

Fourth, the notion of dishonesty is only criticized secondarily in parenthesis above.

"Some debaters use these without realizing they are committing a fallacy, and use dishonest methods unintentionally, perhaps because they observed these used and thought them valid arguments...

...Ultimately however, simply engaging in persuasive conversation with another person can have the effect of helping show everyone where the truth lies so long as both debaters are honest and straightforward. As such, no personal attack is necessarily committed, and the debate can actually benefit all involved. Both sides can come away better able to argue their beliefs and understand the reasoning of both sides.

Even if one assumes the risk via debate of being carelessly checked, i.e. dishonestly and poorly accused, and this happens too often, it does not encompass all cases."

The problem here is you've shifted duty of care onto the position holder rather than the contestor. You're saying that position holders are obligated to assume the risk of contestors claiming logical fallacies even where fallacies don't actually exist. I agree that all contestors do not do this, but the point is contesting is gray. Sometimes it illuminates darkness in held positions, but other times it darkens illumination. When illumination is darkened, persuasion will not be mutually beneficial. In fact, it can even be parasitic when contestors understand and agree with position holders, but deliberately engage in malicious prosecution anyway just to steal their ideas for use into the future.

To be clear, I am not saying that position holders must be agreed with. Contestors are entitled to freedom of assembly, rights to privacy, due process, meetings of the minds, offer and acceptance, and consent as much as anyone else. I am just saying that by default, when a position holder is argued with, it constitutes a personal attack because it checks a position holder's defense. If that defense breaks down despite having a logical position, the position will appear illogical.
Jzyehoshua

Con

First, while it's agreed that ad hominems are personal attacks, let me reiterate that this is not criticizing the usage of ad hominems.

I realize this. But I bring up the issue to show argumentation itself does not involve a personal attack by definition unless using ad hominems or other dishonest tactics.

Second, this is not criticizing the insensitive treatment of vulnerable feelings.

Naturally, that is my own point made to point out what one may consider a personal attack may not be such, but simply perceived as one. With all due respect, it seems to me you may be too broadly categorizing personal attacks to affect all argumentation.

Third, this is not criticizing whether or not contestors are unreasonably checked. This is criticizing whether contestors are unreasonably checking position holders.

Perhaps I was unclear you were giving so specific a meaning to the word 'contestor' then, my apologies. My key argument is simply that not all argumentation involves unreasonable contesting, as both opponents can be reasonably stating their beliefs on an issue of opinion. Even if unreasonable checking occurs often enough to make a position holder paranoid it will happen again, that does not mean we are justified in suspecting every contestor from then on, or that all contestors will do the same thing.

Fourth, the notion of dishonesty is only criticized secondarily in parenthesis above.

Like ad hominems, dishonesty was a point I personally made. I argued apart from ad hominems and dishonesty, the checking of a contestor is not inherently unreasonable or a personal attack, as honest, reasonable argumentation can occur separate from the personal attacks initated by ad hominems and dishonest fallacies.


Ultimately, I disagree argumentation itself is a personal attack. As I said before the attack is not necessarily against the person but their argument. The contestor isn't really checking the position holder's defense of themselves, but of their defense of a position and they defend it because they feel strongly about it. As such, it isn't a personal attack since the argument or attack can be directed at a belief/position rather than a person.

Essentially you argue we all must agree with the positions of others to avoid "attacking" them, but I believe this stems from the common, incorrect assertion of what tolerance is. As Michael Horner states you can't "tolerate" someone you already agree with, "the word implies disagreement." As Horner also says, "If we were truly intolerant we would seek to silence other points of view. But merely engaging in persuasive conversation with someone you disagree with is not intolerance. We show more respect for each other when we take our religious claims seriously than when we clothe them in a patronizing cloak of relativism."

http://www.thoughts-about-god.com...

I argue the reasoning applies here, simply questioning another's beliefs is not wrong or an attack, indeed such would be illogical.
Debate Round No. 3
17 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Daktoria 3 years ago
Daktoria
@Jzyehoshua
"Obviously neither, what is your point?"

My point is if you recognize personal argumentation as not a personal attack, then you're not protecting smart people from being enslaved by stupid people, nor are you protecting people from others who play dumb.

I explained this in R2: "If attention span's exhausted to figure out a logical position, and it's afterwards contested, then a logical position will appear illogical since there's no attention span leftover to defend it with...

Unfortunately, can doesn't imply must. By default, a personal argument forces the contested to assume the risk of being unreasonably checked. For example, a logical position could say something that's necessarily valid, but an unreasonable (or dishonest) person could just say, "Not necessarily!"...

...Even when this is true, it doesn't mean an accusation of a logical fallacy will necessarily match where fallacious reasoning takes place. It also forces logical debaters to be stereotyped among illogical debaters as if they're statistically insignificant."
Posted by wrichcirw 3 years ago
wrichcirw
@Dak:
"Out of curiosity, do you believe:

1) That stupid people should be entitled to enslave smart people, or

2) That people should be entitled to play dumb just to piss others off?"

---

You're beginning to remind me of someone that trolled this website that would play these strange semantics games.
Posted by Jzyehoshua 3 years ago
Jzyehoshua
I argued consistently throughout that it's not an attack on the person but their argument, which I stated again in the final round:

"Ultimately, I disagree argumentation itself is a personal attack. As I said before the attack is not necessarily against the person but their argument. The contestor isn't really checking the position holder's defense of themselves, but of their defense of a position and they defend it because they feel strongly about it. As such, it isn't a personal attack since the argument or attack can be directed at a belief/position rather than a person."

Again, I think you're equating checking a person's defense of a position with checking a person's defense, I don't think they are the same.
Posted by Jzyehoshua 3 years ago
Jzyehoshua
And I still honestly am not sure what your key argument is for all personal arguments being personal attacks. Not all arguments made by people can be directed AT people. If they were directed AT people they would be by definition ad hominem arguments, which is not what all arguments are. Therefore not all arguments are personal attacks. As I said in the final round:

"Like ad hominems, dishonesty was a point I personally made. I argued apart from ad hominems and dishonesty, the checking of a contestor is not inherently unreasonable or a personal attack, as honest, reasonable argumentation can occur separate from the personal attacks initiated by ad hominems and dishonest fallacies."

This is the point I made throughout the debate and I still don't really understand what your answer was to it. If I'm misunderstanding something then let me know please.
Posted by Jzyehoshua 3 years ago
Jzyehoshua
Obviously neither, what is your point?
Posted by Daktoria 3 years ago
Daktoria
Out of curiosity, do you believe:

1) That stupid people should be entitled to enslave smart people, or

2) That people should be entitled to play dumb just to piss others off?
Posted by Jzyehoshua 3 years ago
Jzyehoshua
I guess it depends on how you're defining a personal attack and personal argumentation. If you're just defining personal argumentation as "whenever an argument is made that involves a person, it's intrinsically personal." However, that doesn't really fit the common definition of personal attack that means attacking a person, in this case you'd be changing the definition to just involving a person.

I guess you could call it a "personal attack" in the sense it's being made by a person, but it wouldn't really fit the common definition of personal attack since it's not actually directed at a person necessarily, but again can be directed at their argument.
Posted by Daktoria 3 years ago
Daktoria
I'm not sure it's possible to argue without making a personal attack tbqh.

What I suggest instead is a universal burden of proof. In order to be permitted to situationally participate, you have to present the values which necessitate the situation. It's kind of like how interviews work.

The reason this is so hard to grasp is because in society, we have mandated associations like our families, our neighborhoods, our school districts, our infrastructure, and our legal system. These are mandated despite a lack of value presentation.

I'm not sure how to get around this yet, but I'm thinking about it. Regardless, the position in this debate stands. A problem doesn't need to be judged for a problem to be perceived.
Posted by wrichcirw 3 years ago
wrichcirw
So what isn't personal then?
Posted by Daktoria 3 years ago
Daktoria
wrich, whenever an argument is made that involves a person, it's intrinsically personal. The argument at hand engages the faculty of reason, not reason itself.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by wrichcirw 3 years ago
wrichcirw
DaktoriaJzyehoshuaTied
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Reasons for voting decision: see comments - on second thought I will not score this debate.