Blog Recommendation: Mediation Channel
Lawyers spend a great deal of time working on argument, and students do as well. The problem is dealing with the point at which argument merely becomes persuasion. It is all fine and well to go out with the aim of convincing a judge about the moral rightness of your submission but if you learned colleague across the bar decides to be tricky and asks you to argue on the law then you may be sunk.
I picked this up by way of Baby Barista’s Blawg Review, I’m still not in it but give it time, and I think it’s an extremely interesting section – on the first Monday of each month the writer intends to post a discussion about bad arguing styles. Last month’s was the strawman argument – something we’ve probably all succumbed to in one way or another but very dangerous when brought out in serious discussion. Debates about the rationality of religion seem to be particularly at risk to this.
False analogies are a serious problem in today’s discussions. I encountered a serious case of it while discussing the implications of the Sky News IT repair investigation. Computers are a particularly difficult place for analogies and things like “files” which you’d think are pretty comparable to real life files just aren’t. It’s all metaphorical already. The post links to a New York Times article about the decision to stop covering analogy in the American SATs – the article claims that being able to recognise poor arguments is an essential skill in a citizen. The article’s right.
I’m going to keep watching this section for my own interest and I’d certainly recommend it to others.