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GRE Issue 34: In Any Situation, Progress Requires Discussion Among People Who Have Contrasting Points Of View - With A Free Essay Review

Instructions: "Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the statement and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, you should consider ways in which the statement might or might not hold true and explain how these considerations shape your position."

The statement claims that in any situation, progress requires discussion among people who have contrasting points of view. Whereas in some cases, I agree that progress necessitates discussion with people with contrasting points, I cannot fully favor the statement due to the “all or nothing” impression it gives.

It is true that sometimes discussion among people having different points is indispensible for progress because the view of one side might be partial and incomplete. By discussing among people with distinct perspectives, people are likely to be aware of weaknesses of their ideas and thus revise their previous decision or plan for the sake of desirable progress. Take the local government in my hometown for example. In order to improve the local economy, the local government decided to construct several plants in wilderness areas where large amounts of valuable and bizarre floral and fauna lived. Local environmentalists opposed this project, arguing this not only was detrimental to the environment, but also might put an end to wildlife. Then, both sides with contrasting points got together to discuss this complication and finally made a win-win decision that the government would construct an ecological park, which was likely to promote the economy as well as protecting wildlife. This thing made great progress in my hometown since the government understood it should avoid any development at the expense of the environment henceforth. So, sometimes, progress needs discussion among people with different points of view.

By contrast, under some circumstances, progress requires discussion among people with the same points rather than those with contrasting points. In scientific fields, especially physics and astronomy, scientists always have distinct opinions about one phenomenon. For example, some scientists are in favor of the big bang theory while others use another theory to explain how universe originated. In this case, discussion together might not make a conclusion, but end up quarrelling with each other. Under this circumstance, the better way for astronomers is to discuss and cooperate with those with similar opinions as so to prove their theory. Therefore, discussion among people who have different perspectives may lead to quarrel instead of positive outcome. In this situation, progress is likely to occur when people with similar opinions discuss together.

In addition, if the contrasting points of other people are wrong, discussion with them not only wastes our time but also could lead us down the wrong track. Take me for example. When I was a junior student, I decided to go to the rural areas to teach poor students in my summer vacation. A lot of my friends discussed with me and tried to persuade me to abandon this plan because I would not receive any salary and the environment of the countryside would be tough and severe. Although their reasons were persuasive, I did not discuss with them anymore. After teaching these poor students, I made great progress in myself. On the one hand, I experienced something that could not be obtained from books. On the other hand, teaching others made me more mature. Thus, if some people’s opinions are wrong, discussing with them is a waste of time and may cause us to give up the right views.

In conclusion, under different situations, the answers to whether the statement holds true or not may become different. Sometimes, people with contrasting opinions motivate us to think things comprehensively and deeply, whereas they also can mislead us to abandon right thoughts. In some cases, progress can happen when we have discussion with others with same opinions.



Your argument ought to be convincing enough in its own right, without recourse to examples. Examples will help you elucidate your point, and can also serve as evidence, but the argument, in principle, ought to be clear and compelling enough that a reader could understand it without the help of the example, and, ideally, could then come up with her or his own example, if pressed.

The first argument is close enough to being of this sort, although the example is not really an example of progress being enabled by discussions among people of different viewpoints. It's really just an example of what compromise can achieve, which is a different matter.

If you look at your second argument, regarding the need sometimes not to avoid discussion of a topic among people who have contrasting points of view, I think you will find that the argument is fairly weak on its own. As it happens, in this case, I don't think the specific example you offer to support the claim really helps very much, though perhaps it would help if the significance of the example were clarified, by saying, for example, that scientists would just be wasting their time if they listened to religious folk explain why they believe in creationism).

In your next paragraph you do raise the point that discussion can just be a waste of time. Here again the burden of the argument is carried by the example. It's a nice example, but I think you need to do a bit more work to explain its significance. It seems to me to be an example of the need sometimes just to trust one's own judgment.

I'm not sure that overall you have got to the heart of the issue with this response. So, again, I would advise you think of the general issues first and then of examples that really help to elucidate them.

Let's say you want to argue that discussion can sometimes be a waste of time. That might be important in cases where time actually matters. There may be a limited time in which to act if progress is to be made, for instance. There may be cases where it is important to act decisively and quickly. There may be cases where any delay means opportunities are irredeemably lost. Perhaps in such cases one person, a leader say, needs to take responsibility for making a decision and acting without having a conference first to listen to alternative views.

There's nothing very clever or difficult about what I've just written, and it's not even much of an elaboration of an argument. But if you write something like that, even if it’s not very sophisticated, you can still probably rely on your reader to understand the point and to be able to think herself of examples that might justify it: a person dying in an operating room; some event on a battlefield to which an army must respond; falling stock prices with ten minutes to go before the market closes; and so on. There are countless examples.

Best, EJ.
Submitted by: hahaxiao66

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