Argumentation and Debate
DeborahTannen`s book the ‘Argument Culture’ is an informative bookespecially to the young generation who apparently lack debatingskills. The book is about the war like atmosphere we develop as aresult of poor communication skills during arguments. A debatedoesn’t have to be a time of the war of words, and the Americanculture of problem-solving was an epitome of an ideal problem-solvingtendency. The American culture of problem-solving was lost, and wehave slowly turned to acquiring the argumentum culture. The argumentculture urges us to attack the world with an adversarial frame ofmind. It gives us the idea that the best way to get things done isthrough a fight, but this is not the case (Wexler 23)
Tannen`sPrimary Claim and How She Supports this Claim
Tannen’s main claim is that our debate skills have changed andany argument is a conflict. She claims that even the way we interactwith our friends and colleagues at work sounds like an argument withour spouses at home. Everything is a fight. There are alwaysconflicts in our public interactions. The current argument culture iscontrary to what could be expected because a perfect argument takesplace from the point of view and not by having a fight (Tannen 4).Almost everything is taken as a battle, including politics becausehaving the argument culture shapes the way we think and do things.She gives the example of Nancy Kerrigan Toya who was attacked at hisknee and the new stories only looked at the antagonism between twoskaters instead of looking at Kerrigan as the casualty of theaccident. An evidence of Tannen`s claims of how debate skills haveturned out to be a source of conflicts is evident in the story ofRobert Gallo, the scientist who co-discovered the Aids virus. So manyyears were wasted in an argument between him and his fellowscientists. There were allegations that he had taken the virus fromanother scientist. The antagonism went on and on for around fouryears, and Robert says that the four years of antagonism were themost painful days of his life (Tannen 6). The reason as to why thedisagreement turned out to be painful is because nasty words wereexchanged and they still linger in the minds of the people involvedthis is an evidence of how arguments these days have turned out to bea source of conflicts. Criticism and opposition are the most evidentin the argument culture whereby, people argue by criticizing what theother person says or thinks and opposed to their ideas andprinciples. At every one time, people have to disagree, and the bestway is to disagree using a point of view. The argument culturedisagrees with everything because suggested by another person with noabsolute point of view or facts. Criticism and opposition are claimedto be the automatic reaction of any proposal. What happens is thatwhen another party says or mentions something, however, true it is,the reaction of the other party is an automatic criticism. One of themajor concerns of Tannen is that people try to solve any argumentusing a fight while there are much better ways they can use to solveconflicts such as discussions and negotiations. She questions theidea that everybody has that everything should be solved bypolarizing issues (Tannen 6). And the question that is always askedon several occasions in the book is, fight the ultimate solutions toall arguments?
Theforms of Reasoning Utilized by Tannen
Thetype of reasoning used by the author is the butterfly logic. Itbasically explains how people handle arguments. The reasoning Tannenwants to bring in the picture is if we really bring any solutions byfighting about issues. She questions if it is necessary to spend timeand energy fighting over issues that could be otherwise sorted outusing better ways. She points out that when someone is talking,instead of listening carefully to what another person is saying, mostpeople concentrate in the mistakes that are made to come up with abackground to fight. Instead of listening to someone’s response thething people are interested in is listening to weakness. Tannen gavean example of an old couple who have lived together for years, ant atone point, the husband wanted to sign a saving scheme for theirmedical cover which would mean that their doctor who they are used towill no longer be attending to them. The wife feels that she is morecomfortable with her current doctor because she not only feelscomfortable with him handling her, but she also likes the way hecalls her by her first name. On the other hand, the husband bringsout an argument saying that the doctor has no rights to call them bytheir first name because he is younger than them and that line alonecaused a huge argument. The wife had a point by saying that she wascomfortable with the old doctor because they were used to each other.But the husband was just looking for weaknesses in her point of viewto be able to attack her. The result of such fights with absolutelyno basis is that there is no relevant solution to the issue becausethere is no basis (Tannen 9). The parties end up being so hurt for noreason. Fights are not useful they make relationships with peopleturn out to be difficult. The ability to argue in a realistic mannerchanges so much. According to metaphors, we are what we speak, butaccording to me, this is nothing but a fallacy because during thetime of an argument, tempers rise and individuals do not speak intheir right minds. It is not always true that we are what we speak.This is a fallacy. Sometimes people speak out of anger, and furryother times people say things out of mere excitement, and this isthings they do not mean. We are not defined by what we speak but whatwe what to become at the end (Wexler 23).
To conclude, the definition of a good argument as suggested byLazare`s is an argument one that has a strong and valid point of viewand at the end, the preferred solution is the best that could havebeen reached to because the sentiments of both parties have beenconsidered. In my opinion, Tannen`s book, "The Argument Culturemet this definition because the book strongly recommended thatarguments don’t have to be a completion. It suggests that in anargument it doesn’t matter who wins and who does not what mattersis that the parties involved are comfortable with the result of theend results.
Tannen,Deborah. Theargument culture: Moving from debate to dialogue.Ballantine Books, 2012.
Wexler,David B. "Therapeutic jurisprudence and the culture ofcritique." (2013).
No related posts.