Objectivity in Arguments:
Posted by khuram on August 30, 2006
Objectivity in Arguments:
The purpose of reasoning is to support a claim with appropriate reasons. Argument is that reasoning which is practically put to another person in order to ‘convince’ that other person on the issue in question.
In order to ‘convince’ other person about the truth of the claim, the supporting reasons have to be such that the other person is already convinced about the truth of the reasons. It means that the other person is not already convinced about the truth of the claim, he is just already convinced about the truth of reasons.
Here a question may arise. If the other person was already ‘convinced’ about the truth of reasons then why he was not aware about the truth of the claim which is just the necessary outcome of these reasons. In other words, why was it necessary to put to that person such an argument, the truth of whose reasons were already known to that person.
On the other hand, argument (with context to its ‘convincing’ ability) has to be such reasoning that the supporting reasons are already known to be true by the person who is put such an argument.
The reason behind is that the ‘claim’ contained in the argument is supported by a ‘particular combination’ of reasons. The component reasons of that ‘particular combination’ may already have existence in the mind of the person to whom the argument was put. The ‘component reasons’ may already have the existence but the ‘particular combination’ of those component reasons may be absent in the mind of that person. It also may happen that the person previously was convinced about the truth of only one component reasons. In this case, the person was already aware about the truth of one of the component reasons and during the argumentation, he is made convinced about;
i. The truth of other component reason/s.
ii. the truth of the whole ‘combination of reasons’ and;
iii. the truth of the conclusion i.e. it is validly derived out of above mentioned combination of reasons.
Objective Element in Arguments:
As we have seen that at least one-component reasons has to be already considered to be true by the person to whom the argument is put. This can be done in the following ways;
i. By giving quotation of written material from some reference book etc. This written material is such that the other person already considers it to be true. In this case, that written material is the ‘objective element’ in the argument.
ii. By quoting some scientifically proven fact in the argument. In this case, the scientifically proven fact is the ‘objective element’.
iii. By putting other person’s own statement in the argument. Since the other person already considers his own statement to be true – so it is also ‘objective element’ in this case. This referenced statement may be subjective in nature for the other person but for the arguing person, it is objective in nature because he is putting the ‘same’ words as already stated by the other person.
iv. By referencing some scholar’s statement. In this case the other person is the follower of that scholar so he would consider every statement of that scholar to be true. The usage of that scholar’s statement in the argument, for the arguing person, is objective in nature.
Definition of argument in the context of its ‘convincing ability’:
We can define argument, in this context, as a “written or verbal tool whose purpose is to convince other person/ party, about the claim contained in the argument – with the usage of at least one objective element, as supporting reason.”
In more simple words; “An argument is an objective convincing tool.”
There may be situations, however, where only subjective ideas are conveyed to other persons and the other persons become convinced. For example the ‘convincing strategies’ used by the spiritual and political leaders are mostly subjective in nature. They just convey their subjective ideas in impressive style and other people become convinced. These leaders may not give any supporting reasons for whatever they convey to other persons. Actually even in these cases, the people become convinced due to the reason that the ideas are put to them by their leaders so the personality of the leader is the ‘objective evidence’ of the subjective truth. We can conclude therefore, that to convince other people always require objectivity in some form.
We have seen that, in order to be ‘convincing’, an argument must contain objective element. If the objective element is in the form of some written material as referenced from a book or is a statement of some scholar. And the statement is such that it does not come up to the common sense rational standards e.g. if it is stated that a king in the historical times was 95 feet tall and he lived for 16000 years. Such a statement does not come up to the rational standards. If such a statement is used in an argument then that argument would not be a rational argument. But it is still an objective argument because such a statement would be considered to be true by the other person due to referenced book etc.
Pure rational arguments may not contain any referenced material. These arguments contain such reasons as can easily be verified using rational efforts. Apparently rational arguments seem to be subjective in nature. The other person will not become convinced about the truth of claim just as a result that the argument is conveyed to him. In fact the argument is objective, in this case also. The rational reasons are rationally verifiable. The verifiability of the supporting reasons makes these arguments objective.
The other person shall be convinced about the truth of the claim in the way that first he would verify the rational reasons in rational way. When verified to be true, then he would be convinced.
Rational verification of new ideas or information is also an analogical process. This is an act of imagining the outcome under similar (already known) situations.
The standard for the rational verification of new ideas (may be any new information put to us in the form of rational argument), may be (already known) impartial subjective data or it may be any objective data.
For example we are given information that in some historical times, there was a king who was 95 feet tall and he lived for 16000 years. What would be the rational verification in this case?
The rational verification in this case is the imaginative comparison of this new information with the already known physical world. Since we know that in this physical world, no person can be 95 feet in height and no person can live for 16000 years and we also know that existing persons are just the descendents of the historically existed persons and we already know that descendents have to be similar in characteristics to the predecessors. So in this way we ‘rationally verify’ that the new information given to us in fact is wrong.
In case we are given new information that in historical times there was a king who was 6 feet in height, he was very brave and he lived for 75 years.
Now ‘rationally’ it is ‘possible’ that such a king might really lived in that historical time. Our rationality cannot deny the possibility of the truth of such a story. But to decide about the truth (i.e. not just the possibility of it being true) – our rationality would defiantly require some objective evidence in the form of some historical document etc.
In the first case where only the imaginative comparison of the told story and the real situation revealed that the story was rationally wrong – in this case, our rationality may even not require any kind of objective evidence for the final decision about the falsity of such a story.