Did I argue this correctly?


I decided to post this here but also in the Apologetics forum.

My friends and I just finished a heated debate and needless to say they probably aren’t happy with me.

I was originally discussing an interesting point I learned from my psychology professor about alcoholism across cultures: in Western culture alcoholism is seen as a bad addiction that some people have and which needs to be promptly addressed. But Asian cultures, who strongly associate alcohol with celebration, do not see alcoholism as a problem; if they encounter it it is perceived as being a good thing (“if so-and-so is drinking so much he must be celebrating, so his life must be wonderful!”). The point I argued is that there exist objective criteria (alcoholism is a bad thing) but that certain societies will always blind themselves to this objective criteria either purposely or, in the case my professor mentioned, unintentionally.

My friends disagreed, saying that what constitutes an addiction will vary across countries and the thresholds for what is considered an “addiction” might be lower in one country over another. I disagreed with this saying that despite perceived differences in what constitutes an addiction in, say, the US versus China, there nonetheless exist objective criteria that clearly define what the thresholds are for alcohol addiction, even if ultimately one country places it’s own thresholds higher than what has been medically determined.

To further make my point I offered up the issue of pedophilia. I showed how some cultures either traditionally (or even still to this day) view it as perfectly normal and acceptable despite the fact that (I wouldn’t be surprised) psychology, etc. has shown pedophilia to be very damaging to the psychological and emotional development of children. They once again disagreed saying that while one culture may view it as harmful another may view it as perfectly acceptable and thus it will be perfectly fine for that culture to engage in pedophilia, since one cannot apply foreign understandings of what is bad or good to another culture because of the differences in understanding of right and wrong. We wrangled with this issue over and over until my friend, clearly fed-up with me, left the room to brush his teeth, etc.; it was clear that I was mostly being ignored from that point on. I continued to argue my point, though, even though I knew I was being ignored.

I finally finished with a third example: that of child marriage and child-rearing. I argued that science has shown that it is not medically safe for girls who have just hit puberty to be bearing children since their bodies are not yet developed enough to handle childbirth. But, as I noted, some cultures still practice child marriage and still see it as socially acceptable for young girls to bear children. I argued that there exist objective criteria that proves that it is bad for very young girls to bear children and that this criteria remains true and completely correct even if a specific culture decides to ignore it and continue to allow young girls to have children. I finished here and left the room.

Now this ordeal actually has me shaking even though I have had these types of heated debates before with these same friends; I think (and hope) that my logic was sound and that I made my points correctly. I basically want to know: were my points logically sound, and did I do anything wrong by continuing to argue my point despite my friend’s objections and ultimate refusal to hear me out? Was I perhaps too arrogant?

It is important to note that I am a practicing Catholic and my two friends are non-religious, so that certainly affected how the discussion went.

Pax Tecum!


Arguing after your friends express annoyance and start ignoring you is imprudent. You are definitely not going to convince them of your point of view by continuing to talk at them after they expressed the desire to switch subjects.

If a liberal atheist came into your room and started presenting arguments that Jesus never existed, and even after you asked him to stop he continued giving you more and more arguments would you be listening, and trying to see his point of view?

The best you can hope for in these kinds of discussions is for the other person to make a sincere effort to understand what you’re trying to say. There no scoreboard there, and no winner.


Any time a discussion with a friend gets heated to the point of argument you are pushing the acceptable limits of that discussion. If one side gets frustrated and doesn’t want to continue the discussion and the other continually goes on with their side of the argument it is definitely crossing the line. It is disrepestful and rude. Things like that can ruin some friendships. Just like when you argue politics, it is extremely rare to change anyone’s views and the more you argue the more you alienate the other person or drive them away. A discussion/difference of an opinion with a friend is not a debate team practice or classroom environment - it should not reach that level of intensity and it isn’t a zero sum game. You don’t need a winner and loser.

In addition, you used two comparative examples that may make some people uncomfortable to talk about.


You did the right thing. Being a real friend means not letting them bury their heads in the sand. When people avoid topics or let “uncomfortable topics slide”, these issues simply fester and seethe underneath. What good are these “friends” if you don’t share your views about important moral values?


[quote="Nec5, post:4, topic:187243"]
You did the right thing. Being a real friend means not letting them bury their heads in the sand. When people avoid topics or let "uncomfortable topics slide", these issues simply fester and seethe underneath.


I don't see how not letting them bury their head in the sand is applicable to this situation. This not a critical moral issue of any sort. They were simplying discussing and then arguing over a topic that really is very trivial. I don't see any value in arguing your point to such an extent it angers a friend and creates unncessary hostility and potentially irreversible damage to a friendship. Assuming you are good friends, you need to determine if it is worth winning an argument vs. damaging a friendship.

[quote="Nec5, post:4, topic:187243"]
What good are these "friends" if you don't share your views about important moral values?


What moral values were at stake here? They disagreed on how cultures define alcoholism/addiction. What I am saying is, this argument was not important to argue with such intensity as to make other people mad or not understand when to let an issue go.

The drinking age varies in the world, as does the legal BAC limit for driving. People can argue that one set of 'rules' is best over and over, but is it worth it? Not if you will lose a friend in the process.

Knowing when to keep arguing and when to just settle on the fact that you both will disagree is important.


You weren’t really arguing about cultural standards of alcoholism.

You and your friends have diametrically opposing views of the world because you see the dignity of the human person through the prism of faith and belief in God and God’s law. They are atheists and to them right and wrong is relative. THAT is really what you were arguing about, if you think about it.

And you didn’t drop the argument. You have to ask yourself if at heart you can really have friendships with people who do not see the world as you do. If you can, stop arguing with them and enjoy their company. You will only bring them to your point of view by your charity and actions. If you cannot tolerate their view of the world and the human person and their relativistic notions, then hang around people who believe as you do.

But the other posters are correct, you do not win anyone to your point of view when you keep hammering at a topic when they have asked you to stop.


Just sort of a minor point about alcolism as seen in Asia versus Western Cultures..

I have been to a few Chinese weddings. I may have been told incorrectly, but a Chinese friend of mine pointed out that all the alcohol that is displayed on the tables... is merely a display. You eat the 10 course meal, and then you basically go home. You aren't really supposed to touch the alcohol... or if you do, it is at the very end when most people have left. He made it sound shameful to have a drink. ?? But maybe that is just his own particular family or culture.

From all the different people I have met, mostly from China, hardly anyone drinks. At least compared to my European family where they even drink schnapps for breakfast!


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