Cover of book The Art of Being Right by Artur Schopenhauer
The Art of Being Right

38 Ways to Win an Argument

Author: Artur Schopenhauer

“The Art of Being Right” by Arthur Schopenhauer is an interesting exploration of rhetoric and the art of winning arguments. In this work, Schopenhauer outlines 38 stratagems for convincing opponents and prevailing in debates, often irrespective of the truth. His analysis is rooted in the belief that people are more interested in winning arguments than seeking truth.

The central outcome of Schopenhauer’s work is the detailed exposition of tactics people use to win arguments, revealing how rhetorical techniques can manipulate and dominate discussions. Schopenhauer’s focus is not on ethical or logical correctness but rather on the effectiveness of these tactics in persuading others and securing victory in debates.

Confronting the Present Approach to Negotiation

  • Principled Negotiation: Modern negotiation often emphasizes principled negotiation, as outlined by Roger Fisher and William Ury in their book “Getting to Yes.” This approach focuses on finding mutually beneficial solutions, separating people from the problem, and focusing on interests rather than positions.
  • Win-Win Solutions: The current trend in negotiation is to seek win-win outcomes where all parties feel their needs and interests are addressed.
  • Ethics and Integrity: Ethical considerations and integrity play a crucial role in contemporary negotiation practices, promoting honesty, transparency, and fairness.

Does Schopenhauer’s Approach Still Work?


  • Schopenhauer’s tactics can still be effective in certain scenarios, particularly in competitive environments where winning the argument is paramount, and the focus is more on persuasion than on finding a mutual agreement.
  • Techniques such as appealing to emotion, distracting the opponent, or using reductio ad absurdum can influence audiences and can be seen in political debates, legal battles, and competitive business negotiations.


  • Ethical Concerns: Schopenhauer’s approach often conflicts with the ethical standards of modern negotiation. Manipulative and deceptive tactics can damage reputations and relationships, leading to long-term negative consequences.
  • Collaborative Environments: In collaborative environments, such tactics can be counterproductive. Building trust and fostering cooperation are crucial for successful long-term relationships, which Schopenhauer’s strategies may undermine.
  • Focus on Interests: Modern negotiation’s emphasis on addressing underlying interests rather than surface positions can lead to more sustainable and satisfactory outcomes for all parties involved, a goal Schopenhauer’s strategies may not support.


While Schopenhauer’s “The Art of Being Right” provides insightful and sometimes amusing strategies for winning arguments, these techniques are often at odds with contemporary negotiation practices that prioritize ethical behavior, collaboration, and mutual benefit. While his methods might still work in specific adversarial contexts, they are generally less effective and desirable in negotiations aiming for long-term, ethical, and mutually advantageous outcomes.

For me it’s valuable to be able to identify, if anyone would like to use such tactics on me, rather that to use them on my own.