Graham Disagreement Hierarchy

Graham`s Disagreement Hierarchy: Understanding the Levels of Disagreement

Disagreements are inevitable in any kind of discussion or debate. However, not all disagreements are created equal. Some disagreements may be more productive and valuable than others. This is where Graham`s Disagreement Hierarchy comes into play.

Paul Graham, a programmer, investor, and writer, introduced the Disagreement Hierarchy in his essay “How to Disagree.” According to Graham, there are six levels of disagreement, each representing a different degree of intellectual honesty and effectiveness. Let`s take a closer look at each level.

Level 1: Name-calling

The lowest level of disagreement is name-calling or ad hominem attacks. This involves attacking the person rather than the argument. Examples of name-calling include calling someone `stupid`, `ignorant`, or `biased`. Name-calling adds nothing to the discussion and only serves to poison the atmosphere.

Level 2: Ad hominem

The second level of disagreement is also related to personal attacks, but this time, it involves attacking the person`s motives rather than the person themselves. Accusing someone of having ulterior motives or being biased is not constructive as it distracts from the arguments being presented.

Level 3: Responding to tone

At this level, the disagreement is focused on the tone of the argument rather than its content. Responding to tone involves taking offense to the way someone presented their argument or the language they used, rather than addressing the actual argument and its merits.

Level 4: Contradiction

Contradiction is the first level where the disagreement begins to become productive. Contradicting someone`s argument involves pointing out why it`s wrong or incorrect. This is one of the more straightforward levels of disagreement.

Level 5: Counterargument

At level five, the disagreement becomes more sophisticated. A counterargument is when you give reasons why your opponent`s argument is incorrect or incomplete while also presenting your own argument. This shows that you`ve taken the time to consider your opponent`s argument and are genuinely interested in resolving the disagreement.

Level 6: Refutation

The highest level of disagreement is refutation. This involves finding flaws in your opponent`s argument and then showing why their argument is invalid. A refutation must be logical, coherent, well-supported and must address all aspects of the argument.

In conclusion, understanding the levels of disagreement in Graham`s Disagreement Hierarchy is an essential step in engaging in meaningful discussions. It`s important to strive for higher levels of disagreement, where the discussion is focused on the arguments being presented rather than the person making them. By doing so, we can have more productive conversations and arrive at better solutions.