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The Best Test Of An Argument - With A Free Essay Review

“Claim: The best test of an argument is its ability to convince someone with an opposing viewpoint. Reason: Only by being forced to defend an idea against the doubts and contrasting views of others does one really discover the value of that idea.”

The ability to convince someone with an opposing viewpoint is sometimes a good way to test an argument, for being able to defend contrasting ideas requires both deep understanding in the defender and cogent logic in the argument itself. However, I do not think it is always the case, for there are several factors which leave a doubt in determining whether this way is the best.

First, opponents of an argument may not be hard to convince for their own personal reasons. Many times there are those who claimed to be opposed to a theory are not actually so opposed, or they are used to going from one theory to another frequently, because they do not actually have their own ideas on such and such problems. And if an argument which can simply convince people like this, people, let's say, who do not think themselves but just follow others to decide what they support and what they oppose, I do not take it as a good indicator of the value of the argument itself. In fact, in this situation, it is very likely that it's not the argument that convinces them, but the lack of thoughts among people themselves who make them give in.

Second, it is not objective enough to test an argument by seeing whether it can convince its opponents, because some opponents can even not be convinced by certain arguments at all due to some emotional reasons. For instance, it is hard for a Jew to be in agreement with a Fascist's idea, even if the idea itself has some value. Since the best way to test an argument, in my point of view, should be at least objective and equal to every argument regardless of its proposers, the way mentioned in the claim is certainly not the best in this respect.

It is true that through defending an idea, one can certainly discover the value of it better, but each argument has its own defects, and when one discovers its value one could also learn more about its defects. So I think to convince someone with an opposing viewpoint is not the best test of an argument, but is the best way to improve an argument. One who is for the argument can have a deep and insightful look at both its advantages and disadvantages, and it helps to judge and fortify the argument. In my opinion, the reason given in the prompt just digresses a little from supporting the given claim; instead, it gives us a good reason to believe why trying to defend contrasting views is important in the development and improvement of an argument.

So, even though I cannot point out what should be the best test of an argument, I do not believe that its ability to convince its opponents is a good one, for the above-mentioned factors have some influences which cannot be ignored on this so-called "test".


Essay Review

This is generally a good essay, so my comments will perhaps be brief.

Note that the first sentence is contradiction by the actual argument of your essay; in fact, the first sentence has the same problem as the original argument (the prompt) has in your view. The reason you give, like the reason given in the prompt, in fact supports a different claim from that it is purported to support. Since you point out this problem with the original argument at the end of your essay, it presumably came to you in the course of writing the essay. It often happens that an introduction needs revising once the essay itself has been written so, given time, it is a good idea to revise your introduction as necessary when you have worked out your complete argument.

The first part of this argument claims that often the ability to convince depends not on the merits of the arguments but on the defects of those to be convinced. Your articulation of this argument is a little less than concise, and even so could be clearer, but it is a very compelling argument.

The same is true (in both the negative and positive respect) of your second argument, which focuses on a different kind of possible defect in the person one tries to convince.

But note that the list of possible defects (this is probably not the best word, but it will do for now) is not comprehensive. Some will not be convinced by any rational argument, or be convinced by an irrational one, because their position is determined by a belief that is, by definition, beyond rational engagement (I'm thinking, for example, of certain beliefs grounded in faith). Others may not be convinced by an argument because of a psychological resistance of which they themselves may be unaware. Presumably there are other possibilities.

You cannot be expected to list every possibility, but you might be expected to make the general claim (which covers all possibilities) while only specifying a few instances of that general claim. (Like this: General claim: The ability or inability to persuade a person might be due to a problem with the person and not the merits or demerits of the argument itself. Specific claim: For example, people without ideas etc.

Best, EJ.
Submitted by: Juliana

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