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    The Middle Cat Factor

    Here’s a perfect illustration of the difference between a fight and an argument. In a fight, you try to dominate the opponent and win on points. (Or, in this case, get the whole piece o’ meat.) In an argument, you try to achieve your goal: improve a relationship, get out of a speeding ticket, or (in the case of the littlest cat) nosh some juicy steak. Feline argument at its best!

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    Reader Comments (2)

    That's excellent. A lot of people confuse arguing with fighting. Like my relatives, they send me a political cartoon and whatnot, then when I make a counterargument, they quickly reply, "I don't want to start an argument." That frustrates me.

    I'm guessing an example of a argument is the Socratic method. But then again, how many poltiical debates are that civil. Also, this raises the question of where does debating fit into this. Because, isn't the purpose of a debate to win points. Therefore, it's considered fighting.
    May 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMarco
    The Socratic method is a form of dialectic, Marco--a dialog that seeks to discover the capital-T "Truth." Aristotle, on the other hand, advocated rhetorical, deliberative argument, which debates a choice--the "advantageous" thing to do under particular circumstances.

    A useful political debate has to do with choices, and deals with the future. Most debates in politics aren't "political" in the Aristotelean sense. Politicians blame each other, talking in the past tense; or they speak in terms of values, which exist solely in the present. Choices have to do with outcomes, which exist in the future. That's where the useful debate lies.

    If all this seems complicated, it is. For a more thorough explanation (ahem), see my book, Thank You for Arguing.
    May 5, 2011 | Registered CommenterFigaro

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