Revisiting a post I made a long time ago...
It is effectively true that ALL arguments IRL, and most arguments in academia boil down to the following form.
Person 1: A and B, therefore C, D, therefore X
Person 2: P and Q, therefore R, S, therefore NOT X.
The two arguments are entirely unrelated...but they lead to opposite conclusions. The next part of the argument goes like this:
Person 1: Your premise Q is untenable because of Y, Z
Person 2: Q isn't really necessary, You can substitute in premises M, N, which gives even a stronger NOT X.
Note: What's happening here is that the argument has become about the conclusion. Person 1 doesn't like conclusion NOT X, and so he's trying to tear down the argument against X. Person 2 likes the conclusion NOT X, and so is trying to bolster the argument.
If I were to descend to psychologizing...most folks internal positions go:
Person 1: X is an attractive position....now, what are some reasons for X.
Person 2: NOT X is an attractive position....now, what are some reasons for NOT X.
Arguments can have 3 goals:
1. Try to convince (Opponent or bystanders or self), irrespective of the truth
2. Try to discover truth
3. Try to understand the other side.
My assertion...effectively all argument is position 1.
As evidence, I'd offer up the last 2 months of my arguing with RSF (mostly) about immigration. In general, the argument follows the progression described above beautifully.
As far as I can tell...the argument for immigration is 2-fold
1. Shooting people who want to come trade with us sucks. (Freedom)
2. Gain to the immigrants is insanely high. (Harm-care)
3. Economic impact is a/the huge/primary issue. (Econ)
4. Having the government do MORE is horrid. (Libertarianism)
As far as I can tell...the argument against immigration is
1. Paying welfare to foreigners is BAD. (Ingroup/Freedom)
2. The impact on us (minor) and our descendents (large) of low IQ immigrants is BAD. (HBD)
3. The impact to our polity of unacculturated subgroups (of immigrants) is BAD. (Conservativism)
A sane thinker reading this list will say: Damn...sounds like a hard topic, where the moral case is hard, and the practical case more so. A human being, on the other hand, will immediately begin attempting to dismantle one list or the other.
UPDATE: I hope I was clear in NOT attempting to lay blame on only half the participants in the argument.