The Five Buttresses of Jaminism (part 3): Argumentation

Jaminism is the best religion in the world. It is supported laterally by the Holy Five Buttresses of Jaminism. These Buttresses are Journey, Perfection, Argumentation, Moral Growth, and Honesty. These are the immutable laws of reality as determined by Jaminology and will remain so until somebody convinces me otherwise. In this article we’ll be debating the Buttress of Argumentation.

To the Jaminist, Argument is the process of testing the validity of ideas and personal opinions by engaging in a process of good faith informal debate. The goal of Argument in this context is to improve the clarity with which ideas are expressed and to also open these ideas to be challenged. To this end, Jaminists will enter arguments with an attitude of dispassionate compassion; understanding that while emotions may fluctuate during a discussion and steps should be taken to accomodate this and maintain a dialogue, they do not ultimately define reality. Argument should therefore be engaged with the goal of all parties coming away with a better understanding of the topic rather than declaring ether side to have won.

Competitive Learning

In an argument, a Jaminist aims to capitalise on the competitive nature of the conflict to encourage other participants to present their ideas in a format which is accessible not only to themselves but also to third parties who may be observing the discussion but not directly participating. To the same end, the Jaminist also aims to present their own argument in a manner which can be clearly understood and engaged with by all parties. A Jaminist does not seek to be seen to win a debate by throwing around unverifiable facts or demanding that a person read entire books to qualify to engage with them. Any matter which you do not understand well enough to defend in simple terms to somebody without having them read entire books is one you don’t understand well enough to assert.

A Jaminist engages in argument to learn and to educate. With this as the goal, the methods applied will adapt to promote honest engagement. A Jaminist places all of their views as stakes in any conversation. If a they encounter an idea which convinces them that the position they held was incorrect, they will change their position without reservation (acknowledging that they could still be convinced back to their previous position with the right argument).

Bad Faith Arguement

It is a common experience to encounter people who will try to waste your time by arguing from a position they have no intention of examining, or using rational arguments to support a view which are not the genuine reasons they hold that view. Sometimes this will be in the form of “playing devil’s advocate”. While this practice is generally held to be undesirable, this does not mean that an argument with this person cannot be profitable. When engaging with somebody who is acting in bad faith in a public forum, a Jaminist will patiently and methodically address their stated arguments in a way that refines the Jaminist’s ability to present their opinions in a concise and understandable manner, addressing their comments to the bad faith actor yet with their intended audience as the third party observers. A Jaminist will only engage those who engage in debate in bad faith in public settings where observers may benefit or, if in private, only for the purpose of practicing the art of argumentation. Since a Jaminist does not argue to win, knowing that the person you are arguing with has no intention of examining their own views does not negatively impact desire to engage in a dialogue.

Jaminists arguing with Jaminists:

While arguing with anybody has the benefits of being an opportunity to test the validity of your ideas, improve your ability to present your ideas, and learn from people who may know the topic better than you; arguing with another Jaminist provide the added advantage of both sides of the argument being in alignment of the desired outcome of the exchange being mutual improved understanding of the topic. Using the techniques which will be outlined below, Jaminists prevent the argument from becoming tiresome so as to prolong the experience and gain a greater benefit for all parties, when both/all participants are using these techniques the process does not become exhausting and they can happily argue for many hours.

To argue like a Jaminist, simply follow the following strategies.

Jaministic Argumentation Strategies:

If you have a thought or idea that you aren’t sure about, state the idea as fact to somebody who is likely to have strong opinions on it. People are far more likely to give you useful information about a topic if you give them a starting point to refute than if you simply ask them to tell you about a topic. this isn’t simply learning by trolling, the format of an argument does encourage thoughtful communication in terms of tailoring information to the recipient that is not present in other communication styles. Don’t wait until you are certain about something to open a new idea to criticism, as by then you’ve already become committed to the idea.

"To determine the true rulers of any society, all you must do is ask yourself this question: Who is it that I am not permitted to criticize?" -Kevin Strom (often falsely attributed to Voltaire)

Be willing to challenge assumption and to ask the questions that society tells you not to ask. In fact, it is often the things that you are forbidden to question which are the most deserving of being questioned. Questioning whether imitating a person’s individual aesthetic is really cultural appropriation isn’t going to win you a lot of friends in the knee jerk fringes of woke culture, but that’s okay. Sometimes questioning the unquestionable is necessary. In fact, identifying what ideas you are not permitted to question is the fastest way to identify the questions that need to be asked.

“To determine the true rulers of any society, all you must do is ask yourself this question: Who is it that I am not permitted to criticize?”

Kevin Strom (often falsely attributed to Voltaire)

Practice intentional detachment from the ideas you seek to test through argument. The purpose of the argument is to reveal truth, not to win. So present your argument honestly and release any attachment you may have to winning the debate. While this strategy is primarily selfish, in that you benefit most from an argument by losing and having your ideas improved, this detachment from the outcome is something which will encourage the people you are arguing with to remain involved. People who argue because they find pleasure in winning will be willing to invest a lot more of their time in debating with you if they see there is a reasonable chance of getting the dopamine hit they crave if they can defeat your points. People who argue to win will become frustrated if they perceive that they are arguing against somebody who will not back down even if their ideas are refuted. If you do find yourself in an argument with a person who is seeking validation through winning, it isn’t a bad idea to take a more extreme position than what you normally would and allow them an early victory convincing you that some of your more extreme positions are false. By giving them the sense of victory they crave early in the argument, you provide them with a small taste of the experience they crave and they will work harder to educate you about their position to try to have that feeling again than they would without an early taste of victory.

Judge the idea on its own merit and make no connections between the argument and the person making it beyond what is necessary to understand the cultural assumptions which are foundational to the idea itself. Your goal in an argument is never to achieve a feeling of moral superiority. That is just lazy self gratification at the expense of the other. You don’t gain anything of lasting value from that.

Argue with consent. If you make a statement of fact in a public forum, like if you are visiting a new city and post in a local foodie group that the hotel you are staying in has the best authentic Italian-Mexican fusion cuisine in the area, the avalanche of alternative options have been provided with consent. There may be an element of deception involved to provoke this interaction but the people in this forum are consenting to this conflict simply by participating. There are contexts where this is not the case. If somebody tells you they don’t plan to have children, that is not necessarily an invitation to attempt to persuade them to change their mind. If you are unsure of whether a person is indicating an interest in having an argument, you can simply ask. As long as they aren’t pushing their ideas onto others people are entitled to hold opinions which differ from yours. Sharing an experience that differs from your own is also not an invitation to debate. They are even able to be incorrect without you needing to intervene. As soon as somebody is trying to persuade other people of their position in a public forum they have opened that door and invited critique of their ideas. When in doubt, you really can simply ask if they are open to having their ideas challenged. Don’t worry about ruining the mood. There is no context where obtaining unambiguous consent ruins the mood more than proceeding without consent.

  1. Open your ideas to criticism before you commit to them
  2. Ask the questions you are discouraged from asking
  3. Argue without becoming attached to your arguments
  4. Argue without attaching others to their arguments
  5. Argue with consent

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