Awesome SSC blog post on skillful rhetoric

Daniel M. Ingram, modified 3 Years ago.

Awesome SSC blog post on skillful rhetoric

Posts: 3214 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts

 sound exploration of rhetoric and food for thought as we attempt help, discuss, and debate skillfully.

Thanks, SSC!

Rick Lee Nuthman, modified 3 Years ago.

RE: Awesome SSC blog post on skillful rhetoric

Posts: 92 Join Date: 4/22/18 Recent Posts

I've only scanned it so far, but will read thoroughly. The pyramid hierachies are great!

This lines up with a frustration that I've always felt while watching people debate. I've never been able to articulate it well. My observation is that debates way more often than not begin with a topic that is not well enough defined. The issue becomes that neither side is really talking specifically about the same exact thing. You see this in religious/atheist debates where neither side has really ever agreed what God is to start with, so how can either argue their position?

Another kind of problem that arises is where both sides understand their position, but misunderstand their opponent's position. Well, this could just be another symptom of the first problem, but an example would be the pro life/pro choice debate. Both sides can often have ridiculous ideas about the motivations of their adversaries.
Andromeda, modified 3 Years ago.

RE: Awesome SSC blog post on skillful rhetoric

Posts: 393 Join Date: 1/15/18 Recent Posts
Good stuff. Skillful rhetoric is exceptionally challenging.

I recently learned about something called the principle of charity which is kind of implied in the SSC article but only gets an explicit mention in the user comments. Basically, you interpret a speaker's statements in the best, strongest, most rational way and use that as a starting point for debate. It's so easy to instead just tear into someone's argument when we disagree with it because we like to score points and be right! 

Related to this is the idea of steelmanning, the opposite of attacking a strawman: addressing the best form of the other person's argument, even if it wasn't really the one they presented. Much harder to do, as you have to really listen and understand the person, summarize but improve upon their argument, and then effectively debate against that stronger position. But this can elevate the level of discussion to the top of the pyramid, disputing the central point, when otherwise you would be lower down the hierarchy.