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hominid's avatar

What does it mean to "win an argument"?

Asked by hominid (4530 points ) April 8th, 2014

I suppose it would help to define what you mean by “argument” as well.

This is related to this question. Everyone seemed to have a strategy they used, but I was unable to determine what the strategy was for.

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8 Answers

elbanditoroso's avatar

You never “win” an argument. If you’re lucky, you might persuade someone to change his/her mind because of the cogency of your point and the logic you bring to the discussion. But “win” – not really.

I’m not sure that “winning” is such a great goal, anyway. If you “win” then someone else “loses”, which means that you’ve made an enemy (potentially) and the person against whom you “won” now has a grudge against you. Is that really a positive outcome?

I’d rather negotiate and discuss and reach a compromise or a meeting of minds, than to “win” an agument.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Arguments are resolved not won or lost

Mimishu1995's avatar

What does it mean?

According to my high school classmates, “winning an argument” is when you, regardless which ways, manage to force the others to dismiss their ideas and agree with the your ideas, or at least prevent them from arguing with you further.

“Force”, not “persuade”

hominid's avatar

@hominid: “I suppose it would help to define what you mean by “argument” as well.”

@Mimishu1995 – Are you defining argument as a type of debate (formal or informal) within a school environment? Are there other types of arguments? And if so, does your response still hold?

Mimishu1995's avatar

@hominid Since I avoided argument before I came here, this is the only definition I have…

ragingloli's avatar

To convince the majority of the audience.

hominid's avatar

@ragingloli – Thank you.

I’m assuming we use a different term when we “argue” with a significant other, or does this still apply?

@ragingloli – In your experience, has this ever happened before? Has someone been able to convince someone or some people to change their position right then and there? In my experience, this happens so infrequently as to make it an impossible goal of argument. It seems that the best we can hope for is to plant seeds of doubt. The other person may experience a shift in their position six months or six years from now, and the argument may be one of many that contributed to the shift.

I may be naive or even unaware of my own motivations, but I find the phrase “win an argument” odd. I don’t think there is anything I could call a desire to “win” when I am in an argument about something. Sometimes I argue positions that are not necessarily my own just to try them out and see where they go. I have learned so much from argument – and have changed positions many times due to the fact that I realized that my position was unable to withstand legitimate argument.

Anyway, it seems that the concept of “winning” an argument poisons argument’s utility, and turns it into a pointless game. If I were to find that “winning” was my intention, I suspect I would immediately see it as “losing”. And depending on what we call an “argument”, bickering with a spouse about some nonsense might technically be a two-loser situation.

Seek's avatar

Arguments are presented, not won.

Changes in thought or belief are within the individual, and occur upon thought and reflection, possibly quickly enough to be considered instantly, and possibly not for hours, days, or even years.

The intent of a well-formed argument is to make the opposition and/or the audience think. If you have achieved that goal, bully for you.

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