Good Books on Argument Theory?

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by Telefonica, Feb 26, 2011.

  1. Telefonica

    Telefonica Senior member

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    Any suggestions for good reads on argument theory and how to construct an effective argument (i.e. effective use of evidence, proper use of assumptions, argument structure, argument logic and fallacies, etc)? Bonus points if the book is focused around written arguments. Also, I'm not a PhD on the topic so I'm looking for a book that discusses things in lay terms and is not an academic treatise on the subject.

    I guess good persuasive writing books would fall into this category.

    The problem I'm having is that most books are geared towards high school students. I'm looking for something that would be more useful to working professionals, college and graduate students, etc.

    Thanks.
     
  2. Bentley

    Bentley Senior member

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    I don't have any good suggestions on argument theory. What are the circumstances of your situation, though? Can you describe the circumstances that you want to apply these principles in?
     
  3. Telefonica

    Telefonica Senior member

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    In the fall, I'll be attending a graduate school (b-school) that uses the case method. A case is given to the students for each class; the case is read before class begins; students must choose a position and be prepared to defend it in class. Exams work much the same way.

    I was hoping to do some reading before classes begin to be more effective at choosing a position and defending it using the evidence in the case.
     
  4. Matt

    Matt [email protected]

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    Art of Manliness is running a great series on rhetoric that I have really enjoyed. It just put out its latest article on it today. Give it a read...
     
  5. steinwaytony

    steinwaytony Well-Known Member

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    I read Jay Heinrichs's Thank You for Arguing to prep for law school. Very accessible, almost to a fault. I can definitely recommend it as a jumping-off point.
     
  6. v0rtex

    v0rtex Senior member

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    A well constructed argument is not necessarily an effective one. Are you interested in the theory, or do you just want to win negotiations? Watching 10 minutes of US political news is good proof that the great majority of people are swayed by arguments that have little basis in fact or logic.

    Similarly, the 6ft linebacker at the bar who calls you a douchebag is unlikely to back down when you invalidate his argument on the grounds of it being an ad hominem attack.

    Conversational Terrorism (http://www.vandruff.com/art_converse.html) is a fine document from both sides of the aisle - it tells you what not to do, but in doing so also gives you a nice toolbox of evil you can you use to win (or at least derail) arguments with the majority of people.

    Robert Cialdini's "Influence", along with "Getting to Yes" and "How to win friends and influence people" are great books on practical persuasion and negotiation.
     
  7. Mr. Clean

    Mr. Clean Senior member

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    Art of Manliness is running a great series on rhetoric that I have really enjoyed. It just put out its latest article on it today. Give it a read...
    +1 Good website overall with quite a few interesting reads. If you are interesed in the methods of argument on an introductory level, you may want to check out The Philosopher’s Toolkit by Julian Baggini. It's very extensive in its coverage of various concepts, if not too deep.
     
  8. Bentley

    Bentley Senior member

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    I don't have a good book to recommend. In my experience, though, the people who tend to have the most influence over group decisions are:
    a) funny/charming/witty;
    b) speak with great passion and conviction about what they are saying;
    c) believe that their side of the argument holds the moral high ground;
    d) believe (and convey) that those who disagree with them are morally reprehensible.

    Usually seems to work pretty well.
     
  9. rjakapeanut

    rjakapeanut Senior member

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    i took a logic class as a freshmen in college and the book we had was great. i can't recommend it because i don't have it anymore and it was actually written by the teacher himself, we didn't have to buy it. but it was perfect. seriously perfect. i'm sure any philosophy intro logic book will be similar, though.

    that's just going to teach you about fallacies, though. you won't learn to argue from that.

    for that i would actually recommend a book like How to Win Friends and Influence People just to get a good base of information on how people think -- that book is real damn accurate. then i may try something neat like How to Argue and Win Every Time.
     
  10. Mac

    Mac Senior member

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    Gerry Spence is perhaps the greatest lawyer of all time—reputed to have never lost a criminal case before a jury in his life. His book "How to Argue and Win Every Time" is excellent for how to argue effectively.

    Also, the movie "Thank You For Smoking" and the TV series "The Practice".

    However, everything I learnt about arguing was from "Boston Legal". Alan Shore and Denny Crane—leaders of men with bullseyes on their asses.
     
  11. Telefonica

    Telefonica Senior member

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    Thanks for all the suggestions everyone! I'll definitely look into them.


    However, everything I learnt about arguing was from "Boston Legal". Alan Shore and Denny Crane"”leaders of men with bullseyes on their asses.


    Hahaha... "Denny Crane....."; "I Denny Craned her in the coat room."; I love that show. Wish it were still running.
     
  12. Reggs

    Reggs Senior member

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    Art of Manliness is running a great series on rhetoric that I have really enjoyed. It just put out its latest article on it today. Give it a read...

    Love that site. More people should read it.
     
  13. Reggs

    Reggs Senior member

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    Also, the movie "Thank You For Smoking"


    I really enjoyed that movie.
     
  14. Mr. White

    Mr. White Senior member

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    Business has nothing to do with logic. It's all about stealing as much money as you can while the victim is staring you in the face.

    Businessmen are basically ass kickers/kissers. They don't need logic. They need to be born without a conscience.

    You could go into law. Law has absolutely nothing to do with logic, good presentation, or personal charm. It's all about which side has the most money.

    The laws themselves are a much-reworked mess of mutually-contradicting and self-contradicting euphemisms. Stare decisis is based on bass ackward rulings on cases that are the least-representative examples of cases disputed under those laws. (What is it? About 99% of lawsuits don't end in a judge or jury ruling? Those that go all the way are the iffiest ones that can't be settled out of court.) Isn't almost all activity done on computer forms, by paralegals using Lexis Nexis? Isn't almost all of this activity around motions to remove, motions to dismiss, motions to limit discovery, and motions to exclude affadavits/exhibits?

    Lawyers are basically salesmen or PR men who smooch up to clients. They don't need logic. They need strong livers and ear plugs.

    Or you could go into politics, which is the above two combined. Good luck!
     
  15. Don Carlos

    Don Carlos In Time Out

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    Having done a few hundred cases in my bschool days, let me tell you this: you don't need to be a brilliant orator, rhetoritician, or arguer. You just need to read the darned case -- which, every so often, will be a serious challenge, given other pressures on your time -- and prepare for the discussion in class. This means working through the case prior to discussing it. The discussion itself is the least of your worries if you're well prepared.

    Not sure what school you're going to, or how that school handles case discussions in class. But at most schools I've visited or attended, the discussion isn't a heated argument. And, even though most cases are intentionally ambiguous, you'll soon realize that most ot them are fairly cut-and-dried, with a clearer "right" answer than you may have been expecting. This was one of the great disappointments of bschool for me, but I digress.

    Tl;dr: just do your homework on cases, and you will be fine. Preparation trumps eloquence on these assignments 10 times out of 10.
     

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