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Arguing: Good and Bad Faith

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Philosophical argumentation aims at establishing the truth of a claim.  The goal of persuasion is to get the audience to believe a claim whether it is true or false. Philosophical argumentation requires that one argue in good faith; persuasion does not. This is not to say that persuasive techniques are forbidden when arguing philosophically. You can and should use persuasive techniques to make your arguments more interesting, but you should not use them as substitutes for arguments. Arguing in good faith is not the same thing as making a good argument: a person could make a terrible argument or use false premises in good faith. This is because arguing in good or bad faith is primarily a matter of intention. That said, arguments made in bad faith will tend to be bad arguments. To use an analogy, a person can prepare a turkey in good faith with the intention of making it safe and delicious. But the turkey could turn out badly or could even give the guests food poisoning. Preparing food in bad faith, to continue the analogy, would aim at deceiving guests about what they are really eating or even aim at intentionally poisoning them. As the analogy suggests, just as you would want to avoid bad faith cooks you would want to avoid those who argue in bad faith. They will not be serving up anything you should consume. When a person argues in good faith, they intend to argue that a claim is true by using good logic and true (or at least plausible) evidence and reasons. Arguing in good faith does not require that a person believe the claim they are arguing for, but they do need to be honest about this. A person can advance an argument they disagree with as part of a good faith discussion. For example, philosophical argumentation often includes considering objections against one’s position and these objections can (and should) be made in good faith. As another example, when a philosophy presents the views of a philosopher they disagree with, they should present the arguments. . .

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News source: A Philosopher's Blog

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