To enact linguistic behaviour designed to produce assent in one or more language users. Engagement in this behaviour by one or two or more language users is termed an argument:

There are (it would seem) two main senses:

  1. 'X, in his seminal paper Y, argues persuasively for Z'
  2. Before, we were having a rational discussion, but now you're just arguing.
But that's not to say it's always clear which sense is appropriate in a given case. One could argue that we choose sense 1. when we agree with the arguer and 2. when we disagree.

A question, therefore, arises as to what means are available for settling an argument.

Any offered criterion for settling an argument can be contested; the meaning of any term may be questioned; the argument may even degenerate into a pre-linguistic means of determining the outcome.

Because of these, and other reasons, much thought has been devoted to devising incontestable means of settling arguments, resulting in mathematics, the sciences, and, arguably, politics, law, religion, and other military technology.

Quite early on, people realised that an ad-hominem argument (or the pre-linguistic equivalent) though occasionally effective in individual cases, does not ultimately prevail. But the exact difference between a valid and an invalid argument is still an open question. What little progress has been made has largely consisted of attempts to restrict the syntax, terms and referents of the language being used (and, indeed, creating whole restricted languages in which to argue.)

This question is perhaps the proper subject of philosophy, on the grounds that philosophical questions manifest as arguments, and philosophy has no purpose other than to answer (or otherwise disperse) these questions.

Or, if that doesn't convince you: any counter-argument to the above view (a philosophical one) would necessarily also represent a philosophical position.

Ar"gue (#), v. i. [imp. & p. p. Argued (#); p. pr. & vb. n. Arguing.] [OE. arguen, F. arguer, fr. L. argutare, freq. of arguere to make clear; from the same root as E. argent.]


To invent and offer reasons to support or overthrow a proposition, opinion, or measure; to use arguments; to reason.

I argue not Against Heaven's hand or will. Milton.


To contend in argument; to dispute; to reason; -- followed by with; as, you may argue with your friend without convincing him.


© Webster 1913.

Ar"gue, v. t.


To debate or discuss; to treat by reasoning; as, the counsel argued the cause before a full court; the cause was well argued.


To prove or evince; too manifest or exhibit by inference, deduction, or reasoning.

So many laws argue so many sins. Milton.


To persuade by reasons; as, to argue a man into a different opinion.


To blame; to accuse; to charge with.


Thoughts and expressions . . . which can be truly argued of obscenity, profaneness, or immorality. Dryden.

Syn. -- to reason; evince; discuss; debate; expostulate; remonstrate; controvert. -- To Argue, Dispute, Debate. These words, as here compared, suppose a contest between two parties in respect to some point at issue. To argue is to adduce arguments or reasons in support of one's cause or position. To dispute is to call in question or deny the statements or arguments of the opposing party. To debate is to strive for or against in a somewhat formal manner by arguments.

Men of many words sometimes argue for the sake of talking; men of ready tongues frequently dispute for the sake of victory; men in public life often debate for the sake of opposing the ruling party, or from any other motive than the love of truth. Crabb.

Unskilled to argue, in dispute yet loud, Bold without caution, without honors proud. Falconer.

Betwixt the dearest friends to raise debate. Dryden.


© Webster 1913.

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