I already knew that I was more tenacious in arguments than many. I also knew that I more interested in using argument and inquiry to undercover truth. Of course, I also knew that most commenters on the internet have neither the vigor nor the fairness to follow through on the paths their arguments take. Yet knowing all this, for the first time I attacked another commenter for pivoting away from an argument, and called him to come back to it. This is what I wrote (minus the fake expletives):
Why won't you stay on the topic, thrash it out completely, and find out if you're right or wrong. It's so maddening to argue with some people. If you really care about the issue, stay to the end and really go into the argument, don't bail out.This is what I really think. If you care about an issue, you go as deep as you can. You keep arguing, and keep listening to all the counterarguments, until you figure out what is strong and what is weak, what is right and what is wrong. The real answers are worth doing this for. If you don't want to go this far, and don't want to make the commitment to following where the arguments lead, you shouldn't be arguing at all.
If, on the other hand, you really care, then you do follow the argument to the end. And sometimes the end is painful. I find I've been wrong for years, or that the world can't be the way I wish it could be.
I know that some of this sounds like self-congratulations, but I think it's more than that. It's a commitment to rigorous thinking, rigorous inquiry, honesty, and acceptance of the truth that's discovered. That's a big commitment, but I mean every bit of it.