Discussion debate and argument - what's the difference | INFJ Forum

Discussion debate and argument - what's the difference

Discussion in 'Relationships and Sociology' started by arbygil, Jul 2, 2016.

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  1. arbygil

    arbygil Passing through

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    It's something that's been on my mind lately. I feel that these three are different, but others may see them as synonymous. To me, discussion is simply discussing the topics of the day in a fact-based manner, with all people in agreement with the discussion, without inflammatory rhetoric. But the problem is what may be perfectly innocent for one may be inflammatory to the other. When that tipping point occurs, I think we run into argument. Debate (to me) is similar to discussion, except the two (or more) sides are on opposite sides of the discussion.

    But what do you suppose the "goals" are for all three? Is it necessary to "win" a debate or an argument, or do either of those communication styles have merit? Can we go away satisfied from a discussion, if we don't debate or argue? I'm curious for curiousness' sake. I have a feeling that the answers may depend on how people view arguments, debates, and discussions. Maybe it's a personality thing too, but it could be an individual's mindset too.
     
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  2. Matt3737

    Matt3737 Similes are like songs in love.

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    There is a lot of overlap between the terms, but there is certainly some categorical distinctions between them as well.

    Discussion is the broadest term which is synonymous with talking, discourse, conversation, or dialogue. Argument and debate are both types of discussion and so can be synonymous with discussion, but not all discussions are necessarily arguments or debates without a certain amount of persuasion involved.

    Argument and debate can be used synonymously or not. 'Debate' typically includes formality as a distinction from 'argument,' but this isn't always recognized. In these cases, a new distinction is being created between formal debates (which is a bit of a rhetorical tautology such as a "free gift") and informal debates which correspond with 'debates' and 'arguments' respectively.

    The word 'argument' can be used to refer to a specific side's proposal or to two or more arguments taken together as a whole by their relevant relation to each other. Two sides of an argument may be considered to be engaged in the same argument so long as they are relevant to each other. This distinction is a bit convoluted because the relevance should be considered obvious by definition, but it's not necessarily. Say the one person presents a particular stance that they wish to persuade another person to agree to and the other side presents their stance on an entirely unrelated topic in response. In this case each side has presented an argument for consideration but their irrelevance might seem to disqualify them from engaging in an argument or simply be seen to be arguing for argument's sake.

    The goal of discussion, broadly, is the sharing and exchange of information (emotions may be included within the category of 'information'), whereas argument and debate are persuasive forms of discussion. They tend to be emotionally charged because we have a very strong aversion to being incorrect, wrong, or even the perception of such. This is likely the byproduct of evolutionary selection that favors efficient and accurate reasoning.
     
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  3. Gaze

    Gaze My word . . . hmm
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    Agree with Matt3737.

    Discussion seems less intense and less goal oriented than argument. Discussions can go in any direction and may not be focused on one subject or issue. People in a discussion are not necessarily invested or committed to a particular position. They may simply be there to toss around ideas. The purpose of which may be to simply talk about a topic or issue, explore different perspectives, etc. The goal of discussion is mostly understanding, not necessarily convincing someone of a particular view.

    Argument is meant to be convincing, and can often be one-sided, meaning the goal of each person simply be focused on convincing the other person the position they are arguing is right or correct while their opponent's views is not. People in an argument may be lesslikely to consider a variety of perspectives, and maybe more focused on advocating for or supporting a particular agenda or position because they strongly believe it or want to argue the other side for it's own sake. Arguments expect conclusions and are directed towards a final position or outcome to be accepted in the end.

    In a discussion, nothing has to be decided or determined as a final answer. A discussion doesn't require a win or lose. An argument, however, assumes someone should concede or accept the conclusions drawn from a supposedly well presented argument.
     
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    #3 Gaze, Jul 2, 2016
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2018
  4. invisible

    On Holiday

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    There are already great approaches I think on this thread, and basically, I broadly agree with what has been said by Matt and Gist. So I will just add my thoughts that I had about this before I had read their responses (my ways that I developed previously of thinking about this) in case these thoughts of mine can add anything.

    I think discussion is like something that you have like when you are in a tutorial or seminar class at university, when everyone is combining their understandings to reach a greater understanding; acknowledging different perspectives on an issue, and finding out what can be gained.

    I think an argument is maybe like a more or less formal set of propositions that combine to advance a preference for a certain perspective. The propositions combine to give a conclusion which "says something" about the topic, something "conclusive", I guess involving some level of discrimination or judgment. This is kind of like what you would do in an essay format.

    I think debate is like a discussion, but it is competitive. It is like when two arguments as described in the sense that I just gave of arguments are played off against each other. It's an approach that selects a winner and a loser on the basis of how the arguments are presented - whether the arguments are coherent, and how convincing the propositions are, and how effective the rebuttals are.

    I think that a problem with the debate format is that what goes along with this "winner and loser" thing is this implicit sense that the "winner" of the debate has presented the perspective that is more "right", and the "loser" has presented the perspective that is more "wrong". And like this is very problematic because it's not necessarily the case at all.

    My personal idea about this is, that I think that discussion is the ideal format. But it really takes a lot of discipline to achieve this kind of exchange. Like by which I mean, formal, scholarly, academic discipline. This is easy in a classroom because there is usually a teacher person there leading the discussion who is not an adjudicator exactly, but who is very experienced in handling diverse perspectives, and approaching these things as aspects of truth rather than trying to obtain a truth that can be described as final, ultimate, or conclusive (assuming that the teacher is a good one). It is also the case that, well, even in the classroom, but as well much more so outside that type of disciplined environment, people are very passionate about their personal beliefs, and tend to lose sight of the variability of truths...

    (There are also much more informal senses in which these terms are used... for example, "argument" is informally used to describe a quarrel... "discussion" is informally used to describe a chat... and "debate" is informally used to describe a heated discussion.)
     
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  5. Wyote

    Wyote ○●○
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    This is sort of a tangent but bear with me because I think it is pretty important for people to grasp, particularly with regard to online engagement.

    Now we have these three areas or modalities or whatever way you want to categorize them. Discussion is communal, debate is intellectual and argument is emotional.

    People get different amounts of satisfaction from each of these modes. Some people are highly charged by communal communication which makes them good at bonding, some people are inspired by intellectual communication which makes them good at discernment and some people truly enjoy emotional communication which makes them great at progress. This is a rudimentary blueprint but you get the idea. People are genuinely predominately interested in one mode. Sure we all get in to each at times but generally one method is more enjoyable.

    So, a lot of difficulty in communicating online is actually a result of each person not realizing or empathizing with another person's preferred mode. It's much easier to pick up and adapt to offline. You probably don't even realize people are going around with different modes unless you stop and think about it. Somebody is always super chatty and overly friendly (communal) and some other person is always trying to "get at you" for some unknown reason (emotional). Meanwhile you're trying to avoid the debater because being wrong all the time feels bad.
     
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  6. OP
    arbygil

    arbygil Passing through

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    To everyone who has responded so far, thank you - I like deconstructing definitions because they tend to change depending on the environment (or on time). Given the parameters of the definition from your own perspective, what are your communication preferences? Do you prefer debate, discussion or argument, or do you prefer a combination of two or all three?

    For me, I prefer discussion, but if the goal of it is to learn from another's perspective and the rules of questioning are clearly set, then I'm okay with debate. I don't like arguing, however. Arguing frustrates me, because it feels like an unreasonable and pointless manipulation tactic (to me).
     
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  7. Wyote

    Wyote ○●○
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    To sort of springboard off my own previous statements, I am definitely a discussion oriented type of person. I think it is probably likely that most people are discussion oriented and switch into argument and debate for specific purposes. I'd like to say that debate is my follow up but honestly, I am a poor debater and arguing can be a lot of fun given the right circumstance. I grew up with friends who all argued for the sake of amusement and it definitely rubbed off on me. It's incredibly satisfying to one up a friend or get them off balance emotionally i.e. massively confusing them, but only if you know it doesn't affect them in some deep hurtful way. We now live in an age of being hyper offended so argumentation has become taboo in a way, but I think people have just lost sight of its merits and also how to argue properly. Proper arguing does not cause harm, it is merely a device for swaying opinion. The thing about debate is that people want to debate and have good intent in attempting to debate rather than argue but most everyone is terrible at real debate and once they run up against somebody who is better at debate they will just fall back into discussion or argument which is unfair to the nature of debate and the person still operating in that mode. I won't bring gender into this because that has also become a source of ridiculous hypersensitivity, but I will say I think there are gender differences regarding preference.
     
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  8. Pin

    Pin "Magnificent Bastard" / Ren's Counterpart

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    Debates are structured and polished.

    Arguments be ratchet.
     
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  9. Asa

    Asa Resident palindrome

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    Great post.
     
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  10. Wyote

    Wyote ○●○
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    Thanks! I still stand by all of it!
     
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