Student Op-Ed: Argumentation is Good

Taylor Kruse, Op-Ed Contributor

As your fellow student, I would like to remind you all that argumentation is beneficial.

In this age of political polarization, it often feels difficult to speak about anything controversial, especially in settings where you are unsure of the beliefs of those around you. Aggression, lack of respect for ideas and fear of negative responses make what would be productive argumentation unproductive.

Opposition is crucial to the development of ideas. There is an idea in argumentation called “clash.” According to Jeffery P. Mehltretter Drury, the author of “Argumentation in Everyday Life”, productive clash creates mutual respect between arguers, refines ideas, generates creative and informed solutions to complex problems and helps individuals grow (176).

I’m currently in an argumentation class in the Communication Studies department here at Winona State. In this class, I am confronted with opposing viewpoints, asked to examine arguments I don’t agree with and even asked to construct arguments on behalf of ideas I don’t personally believe in. While it has been challenging and even frustrating at times, it has forced me to examine what I believe, why I believe it and the places where my logic has room to grow. It has given me a deeper respect for the arguments I do not agree with and the people who hold those beliefs. Most of all, I am a more critical thinker, conscious of values that are deeper than the outward beliefs people hold. To be a community of learners improving our world requires not just hearing but listening to our fellow community members.