The Relationship Between Truth and Argument, Persuasion and Ethics

In our first class, we were asked to think about the relationship between truth and argument as well as persuasion and ethics. On the first topic, I do not believe there is necessarily any direct relationship between truth and argument. An argument can be made even for something that is false. An example of this would be in court where there are lawyers defending both sides of a case whether what they are defending is actually the truth. False convictions as well as a failure to convict the guilty show that sometimes even untrue arguments may prevail. Another instance in which an argument can be convincingly made for something that is false is in the realm of peer pressure. Many adolescents are often pressured into doing something because their peers convince them that doing it will make them cool. While this argument is certainly not based in truth, it is often effective and convinces someone to act differently.  Additionally, people may believe in different “truths”. An example of this would be the man we talked about in class who convinced himself having an affair with a married woman was okay because marriage is “just a social construct”. While this is the truth to him, many people would see this viewpoint as entirely false and thus reject his argument.

I also don’t believe that there is a definite connection between persuasion and ethics. I believe that persuasion can be both ethical and unethical depending on the specific circumstances. An example of persuasion being unethical would be purposely omitting facts that would hinder the argument. Despite this possibility, persuasion is a very integral part of our everyday lives in various situations where it is not unethical. For example, trying to convince your friend to go to a certain restaurant for dinner and presenting your reasons would be an ethical and everyday example of persuasion.

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