Summary of Winning Arguments

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Winning Arguments book summary
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Rating

9

Qualities

  • Innovative
  • Applicable

Recommendation

Don’t expect to learn how to win arguments by reading law professor Stanley Fish’s treatise. His main premise is that arguments pervade every aspect of life, never truly end and, therefore, cannot have a victor – at least, not a permanent victor. If you accept the certainty of argument and embrace it as all encompassing, you have clear motivation to get better at “argumentation.” At the least, you might learn to avoid the most fruitless of all arguments – those with your partner or spouse. Fish writes more about the philosophy of argument than practical techniques, but if the way discourse unfolds intrigues you, getAbstract – while always politically neutral – thinks you’ll enjoy his compelling exploration of why and how people disagree.

About the Author

Award-winning professor and former dean Stanley Fish teaches law at universities in New York and Florida. He also wrote the bestseller How to Write a Sentence: And How to Read One.

 

Summary

The Natural State of Argument

People may strive to get along and cooperate but, eventually, argument prevails. Even when parties reach a resolution, their agreement rarely lasts. International agreements, peace accords, trade deals and other covenants, no matter how solemnly undertaken, exist only until one of the parties sees an opportunity to get more of what it wants. Small differences grow into large ones. Human beings never reach a state of “universal agreement”; conflict is the normal state of being.

You can’t avoid argument, so you might as well master it. Learn the art and techniques of rhetoric – the manipulation of words and appeals – as well as when, where and how to use them. Such knowledge gives you awesome power, far stronger than “sticks and stones,” tanks or missiles. Rhetoric and argument lie at the foundations of democracy, the rule of law and the heart of war. Words and arguments don’t merely hurt; they can tear a person in two and destroy worlds.

In John Milton’s Garden of Eden in Paradise Lost, Satan convinces Eve to eat the forbidden fruit by first sowing a smidgen of doubt in her mind about what God really meant when he warned ...


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    A. J. 1 year ago
    Perhaps the title of the content is an intended psychological tactic for "top-of-mind" effect due to the perceived conflict some have between it and the contents. I agree that it could be finessed to better reflect the intent of the author.

    Interesting nonetheless.

    Thank you.
  • Avatar
    D. I. 2 years ago
    The book might be about winning the arguments, but I couldn't find any tips on this subject in this summary, only descriptions of different types of arguments.
  • Avatar
    D. C. 2 years ago
    Liberal garbage...
    I'd like to know what Bible translation the 'writer' uses. I've, literally, read the Bible dozens of times and have never read of Adam and Eve arguing over Eve's independence. RIDICULOUS liberal garbage...
  • Avatar
    Y. A. 2 years ago
    OK - so now I know the various types of arguments... now how do I win them? Not a helpful book at all.
  • Avatar
    N. M. 2 years ago
    The summary seems almost repetitive. I'm grateful for the summary if it's a reflection of the book. Perhaps the author should not have used that title. It clearly is misaligned to the expected content.
  • Avatar
    N. M. 2 years ago
    The summary seems almost repetitive. I'm grateful for the summary if it's a reflection of the book. Perhaps the author should not have used that title. It clearly is misaligned to the expected content.
  • Avatar
    E. R. 2 years ago
    I think the problem isn't that the abstract doesn't reflect the title, but that the title doesn't entirely reflect the book. The abstract is a reflection - in fact, a summary - of the contents of the book. We agreed that the title suggests that the book offers help with triumphing in an argument, which is why our recommendation begins, "Don’t expect to learn how to win arguments by reading law professor Stanley Fish’s treatise." This is, as several readers note correctly, a book about argument, itself, and types of arguments, not about how to achieve a victory in an argument. We appreciate your comments - no argument there. Erica Meyer Rauzin, Senior Managing Editor, getAbstract
  • Avatar
    A. P. 2 years ago
    The abstract is not a reflection of the title of the book
  • Avatar
    A. G. 2 years ago
    Expected more skills...!
  • Avatar
    R. P. 3 years ago
    Agreed with the posts
  • Avatar
    J. C. 3 years ago
    Not helpful.
    • Avatar
      John Paz 3 years ago
      Agreed. Instead of actually describing what works, as the title suggests, after reading the abstract it feels like this book is more concerned with identifying the different types of argument, and expectations to participate in said arguments.
    • Avatar
      Daniel Carbary 2 years ago
      Second...or third, that!