Rational debate

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Rational debate (RD) (or truth-seeking debate) is a form of debate in which the participants view the process as a mutual search for truth, rather than a competition. Arguments must either support or oppose a position related to the central issue under discussion, and must use valid forms of reasoning to reach conclusions from stated premises (evidence).

In RD, non-rational forms of argument are not only considered invalid, but may also cause the user to lose credibility – which would not be relevant under ideal circumstances where the time and energy available for debate is infinite, but in practicality other participants may decide to eject a user whose credibility has droppped below some arbitrary threshold.

Ideally, a rational debate:

  • allows unlimited iterations (responses to responses to responses...) and branching (multiple arguments for/against a given conclusion)
  • allows unlimited time for consideration (research, analysis) before responding to an argument
  • tracks all significant premises (i.e. those whose truth-value affects the ultimate outcome of the debate) to make sure they are either accepted or answered


  • Structured debate is a methodology which attempts to support conditions for rational debate that are as close to ideal as possible.