Handling Opposing Arguments

If you cannot identify specific counter and opposing arguments for your thesis and each of your claims in support of that thesis, then you do not have an argument. By definitions, an argument needs opposing arguments. In fact, your ethos depends in large part on how you respond to those opposing arguments. Fair and intelligent people respond reasonably and civilly.

Unfair and cowardly arguers respond to opposing arguments viciously and uncivilly. You can easily identify the cowards by how they respond to those with whom they disagree.

  • Do they interrupt the person?
  • Do they create similar but unrelated arguments (red herring fallacy)?
  • Do they oversimplify the arguments with which they disagree–often by latching onto highly charged “key words”–and then attack the oversimplified argument (straw man fallacy)?
  • Do they seem angry?

The following presentation is designed to give you some tools and strategies for anticipating and responding to counter and opposing arguments: