He is not arguing here

John C. Wright defends an alternative definition of argument:

An invalid argument is not an argument in the same way a cure that fails to cure is not a cure.

People use the word argument both to mean any arguments and to mean valid arguments.

Likewise, people use the word cure both to mean any cures and to mean only cures that work

You are getting worked up over a semantic argument. Which is also not an argument

To which I respond: if the word “argument” can be legitimately understood to mean only valid arguments, that meaning is nonsensical. Such a definition renders the very concept of arguing incoherent because only the correct party could be considered to be presenting an argument.

And if both parties are advocating incorrect positions, then neither party is presenting an argument, and therefore neither of them can be said to be arguing at all, which effectively destroys the language as we have no word for the not-arguing they are doing, nor do we have one for the not-arguments they are presenting to each other.

The semantics are not irrelevant here. The fact that people may use a word a certain way does not mean they are not incorrect to do so. People say “inflammable” to mean “not flammable” too, but that usage is incorrect. A faulty syllogism is still a syllogism, an incorrect or invalid argument is still an argument, and an unsuccessful medical treatment is still a treatment.

Which may explain why that limited definition of argument does not, in fact, exist. Whereas, as it happens, both definitions do exist for cure:

  • a method or course of remedial treatment, as for disease.
  • successful remedial treatment; restoration to health.
So, it is observably incorrect to say that an invalid argument is not an argument in the same way a cure that fails to cure is not a cure. To put it into purely logical terms, A cannot be Not-A, but X can be Not-Y.