Relationship between Truth and Argument

When asked the relationship between truth and argument I began to think, for an argument to be effective does it have to be true? At first, I would have said that for an argument to be made it has to be backed up by truthful facts – to give the argument credibility.  Credibility is usually crucial for an argument to be accepted.  However, after some class discussion, my viewpoint changed. From my communication classes, I have learned that persuasion and rhetoric are only as persuasive as the audience is receptive.  If one wants to persuade someone they have to frame their argument so that it appeals to the audiences emotions, needs and goals. A speaker or writer could present the exact same information to the same audience, in the same setting, but, only some will be persuaded and others will have unchanged opinions – they may not be interested, they may be set in their ways or they may be so programmed to follow their own truth.

With that being said, one must use rhetoric, and find the right appeals in order to be persuasive, however, I do not think that these arguments have to be truthful.  For example, in class we talked about truthful knowledge vs. public opinion.  There could be scientific evidence to support an argument but if someone believes that it is not real than there may not be any convincing them otherwise – even if the scientific evidence is presented – they will either chose to avoid listening to the evidence (to avoid contradicting their beliefs), or they will not see it as convincing because they are too firm in their belief system.  With this being said, I do not think that an argument needs truth to be successful, I believe that the argument needs the correct rhetoric and appeals to the needs of the audience to be effective.


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