Difference between revisions of "Issuepedia:Arguing"

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(moved guidelines to their own subpage)
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::2b. [[/challenge/responsibility|responsibility]] for resolving a challenge rests with the person who made the assertion.
::2b. [[/challenge/responsibility|responsibility]] for resolving a challenge rests with the person who made the assertion.
:3. '''[[/clarity]] of arguments''': Responsibility for making an argument clear lies ''on the arguer'', not the respondent.
:3. '''[[/clarity]] of arguments''': Responsibility for making an argument clear lies ''on the arguer'', not the respondent.
[[File:Our-Discussion.jpg|thumb|related guidelines from a different source]]
The following are informal guidelines for engaging in debate; see [[project:Structured Debate]] for a more formal set of rules.
''I have cross-posted these guidelines to [[lwwiki:User:Woozle/debate guidelines|LessWrong wiki]] in hope of sparking further refinement. --[[User:Woozle|Woozle]] 15:58, 10 September 2010 (UTC)''
For more specifics, see:
===things to do===
* [[/guidelines]]: valid and invalid argumentation techniques
[[File:Graham's Hierarchy of Disagreement.svg|thumb|Statements higher on this hierarchy generally trump lower ones.]]
When arguing against another person's statements:
:1. DO '''[[address the content|address the ''substance'']]''' of the argument you are disputing.
:2. DO '''be [[/clarity|clear]]''' about what you're trying to say.
:3. DO '''take a position''' before [[position dancing|attacking the positions of others]].
:4. DO '''offer arguments''':
:* for why the other debater's statements are unlikely to be true.
:* to support what you think is correct.
:5. DO '''respond to every point you wish to oppose'''.
:* Failure to respond to a point does not make it untrue.
:* If a point remains unanswered, it is reasonable to consider it true.
:6. DO '''draw attention to any unanswered points'''.
:* Others may assume or erroneously believe that unanswered points have actually been defeated.
:7. DO '''be willing to reiterate''' your claims, when asked, even if just in summary.
:* While it may be clear to you where and how you made some particular point, but others may see your arguments as irrelevant (due to their own bias, your bias in making them, or some other reason).
:* See, for example, discussion between Woozle Hypertwin and lorenei on [https://plus.google.com/u/0/102282887764745350285/posts/21wL6MNoGCB this thread].
:8. DO consider that sometimes perfect evidence isn't available, and [[Hierarchy of evidence|it may be necessary to accept lesser evidence]].
===things to avoid===
It generally '''does not strengthen your position''' if you:
# ...[[ad hominem|attack the other person's credibility]] (expertise, credentials, personal habits, age, affiliations, etc.).
# ...assume the other person has bad or dishonest intentions
#* For example: claiming that someone only wants to block you because they disagree with you
# ...[[straw man|attack things the other person didn't actually say]].
# ...attempt to [[emotional argument|emotionally manipulate]] the other person or the audience.
# ...attempt to [[guilt by association|associate the other person's views with shameful actions they do not support]].
# ...use vague statements in place of a clear argument.
# ...simply [[argument by contradiction|contradict]] the other person without any further substantiation.
# ...cite a work of myth or [[scripture]] as an authority on non-doctrinal questions.
#* Do not assume that any authority or source will be accepted without question; the only valid [[argument from authority]] is one where all parties accept the authority as valid.
# ...misrepresent other people's arguments.
# ...attack positions taken by others [[position dancing|without taking a clear position yourself]].
# No position is perfectly correct; the challenge is to find the position that is the ''least wrong''
# ...tell the other person to "go look it up yourself" when asked for evidence. If you do not provide a specific source, this is an indication that you do not actually have the evidence you claim to have.
Within the context of social media, Issuepedia considers repetitions of any of the above to be sufficient grounds for blocking. The "you only want to block me because I disagree with you" claim in particular ([https://plus.google.com/u/0/102282887764745350285/posts/LRRu7mn9FpL the Haithem offense] is sufficient ground for ''immediate'' blocking.
===source accuracy===
When disputing the accuracy of a source, or of an argument based upon a fact stated in a source:
* DON'T simply claim that the source is unreliable.
* DON'T simply claim that the fact is wrong.
* DO '''identify better sources'''.
* DO '''offer correct information'''.
===source dependency===
When outside material contains extensive information relevant to your argument:
* '''[[/clarity|Spell out]] the point it makes''' – rather than expecting others to read it. ('''No [[bookstop|required reading]].''')
** Otherwise you are counting on your opponent to not only ''understand'' it but ''agree with you'' as to its applicability to the discussion.
** If you can't defend your own point in your own words, then perhaps you don't understand what you're arguing -- or perhaps you don't understand what you're arguing against, and are hoping that something somewhere in the required reading will suffice as a rebuttal. ('''Sources are not arguments.''' Claiming that a source makes your point is not the same as making your point. '''No [[spaghetti-throwing]]'''.)
** Pasting quotes is acceptable, but summaries are better -- especially if written to be specific about the matter under discussion.
** If the source's argument is complicated, state the conclusion it draws and summarize the general nature of the arguments used. You need to give others at least enough of a basis upon which to frame further counters (or, hopefully, questions).
* '''2014-08-20''' [https://plus.google.com/u/0/+PaulaRizzuto/posts/VowoDwjm5xV Etiquette for Science posts]
* '''2012-02-17''' [http://thalespress.blogspot.com/2012/02/figuring-out-truth-rules-of-thumb-to.html Figuring Out the Truth - Rules of Thumb to Live By]

Revision as of 01:32, 29 December 2016


Unlike other reference projects, Issuepedia welcomes personal opinion.


  • Any opinion is an assertion of fact.
  • Any assertion may be challenged.
  • A challenged assertion that is not defended with a rational, evidence-based argument need not be taken seriously.

Also, attempts to undermine other debaters by use of logical fallacies and other rhetorical deceptions will be called out.


1. /assertions: An assertion that has not been challenged may be assumed to be true.
2. /challenges: When an assertion is challenged,
2a. if it remains undefended, it must be assumed to be false.
2b. responsibility for resolving a challenge rests with the person who made the assertion.
3. /clarity of arguments: Responsibility for making an argument clear lies on the arguer, not the respondent.

For more specifics, see:

  • /guidelines: valid and invalid argumentation techniques