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Socratic Methods[edit source]

Thanks for providing this interesting learning project. Perhaps students who are not yet ready to present arguments in the formalized style of the Wikidebate platform would like to sharpen their skills the old fashioned way, using Socratic Methods. Mention of the courses on Socratic Methods and Practicing Dialogue in the description of the Wikidebate project might be helpful. Thanks! --Lbeaumont (discusscontribs) 12:29, 25 November 2016 (UTC)[reply]

YesY Done --Sophivorus (discusscontribs) 14:17, 25 November 2016 (UTC)[reply]

Recognizing Fallacies[edit source]

The course on Recognizing Fallacies can help debaters more clearly identify and describe unsound arguments. It may be helpful to mention this resource in the section on "How to object effectively." Thanks!

YesY Done Please feel free to edit the page yourself in the future! --Sophivorus (discusscontribs) 14:17, 25 November 2016 (UTC)[reply]

Explicate the Syllogism[edit source]

As you point out, a sound argument is of the form: evidence -> premise -> conclusion. In natural language certain words or phrases, called “conclusion-indicators” are often used to introduce the conclusion of an argument. See: Taming Wild Fallacies

Perhaps it would be useful to provide a “macro” that marks the premise, conclusions, and supporting evidence implied by these indicator words. For example, the sentence

Because you promised to wash your car every Saturday, and today is Saturday we can conclude you have washed your car.

Would perhaps be marked as:

Because you promised to wash your car every Saturday, and today is Saturday we can conclude you have washed your car.

Where I have (quite arbitrarily) used bold to mark indicator words, underline to mark evidence, and bold underline to mark the conclusion. (Background colors might provide a more effective mark.)

The book The Logic of real arguments by Alec Fisher introduces such a markup scheme (better suited to pen and paper than text macros) that might be inspiring here.

I recognize this is an ambitious proposal that is only half baked, but it might inspire some thought and more dialogue if you are at all interested.

@Lbeaumont: I think that developing a markup macro is too difficult, because it implies a lot of natural language analysis, which is a particularly difficult thing to do. Marking "conclusion indicators" and other logical terms may be doable, but marking propositions is way, way more difficult, because they may take a myriad different forms. Natural language analysis is one of the hardest branches of computer programming, as far as I'm aware, so the benefits must be huge in order to justify the effort. Also, whatever macro we develop will only work for English, and I hope to extend Wikidebate to Spanish and other languages soon. However, a much more doable (and multilingual) approach would be to create guidelines for a markup system, and then mark up the arguments manually. What do you think? --Sophivorus (discusscontribs) 19:22, 26 November 2016 (UTC)[reply]
What I have in mind is much simpler than natural language analysis. For example, there might be a "macro" called "because" that would take two arguments, the premise and the conclusion. So, using the above example, the syllogism would be written as because(you promised to wash your car every Saturday AND today is Saturday, you have washed your car) (The "Because function" takes two arguments, the premise and the conclusion, each separated by a comma. The "AND" is another keyword in the syntax). I hope this clarifies and simplifies the proposal. --Lbeaumont (discusscontribs) 00:42, 27 November 2016 (UTC)[reply]
Perhaps these two ideas can be beneficially melded. Consider creating "markup primitives" such as: evidence(), premise_indicator(), premise(), conclusion_indicator(), and conclusion(). Each would take a text argument as input and output marked up text according to some simple markup convention. This could help clarify the structure of the argument to the reader, as well as the author. --Lbeaumont (discusscontribs) 03:49, 2 December 2016 (UTC)[reply]

@Lbeaumont: Maybe some optional parameters on the Template:Argument, so that it can be called like so:

|premise1 = All humans are mortal
|premise2 = Socrates is human<ref>Evidence</ref>
|conclusion = Socrates is mortal

I think the "evidence" is more fit for footnotes than extra parameters. What do you think? --Sophivorus (discusscontribs) 12:53, 3 December 2016 (UTC)[reply]

Technically the right conclusion would have been "you have promised to wash your car today". AP295 (discusscontribs) 17:33, 4 April 2021 (UTC)[reply]

A different take[edit source]

This edit kind of rescopes a debate to have a third "no one knows" option. Kind of an interesting change. —Justin (koavf)TCM 16:15, 3 October 2019 (UTC)[reply]

@Koavf Indeed, several debates are evolving towards more numerous and precise sections, rather than just yes/no dichotomies (latest example). I think this is a most desirable development! Sophivorus (discusscontribs) 16:21, 15 March 2021 (UTC)[reply]
Agreed. To visualize it branching somehow could be good. I also think that the way that these should be drafted are that they have individual arguments being refined and responded to (possibly with branching responses) rather than piles of new arguments that are weak. (Just thinking out loud.) —Justin (koavf)TCM 17:56, 15 March 2021 (UTC)[reply]
@Koavf Not sure I understand your suggestion. Could you explain a bit more, maybe with an example? PS: please check out the new topic below! :-) Sophivorus (discusscontribs) 16:30, 16 March 2021 (UTC)[reply]

Should we change the title convention?[edit source]

Currently, wikidebates are titled as questions (e.g. Should cannabis be legal?). However, I'm thinking that maybe we should rename them after the main topic of the debates, and move them as subpages of the main wikidebate page (e.g. Wikidebate/Cannabis, Wikidebate/Capital punishment, etc). The main reason for this is that as debates grow, they tend to go beyond simple yes/no answers. For instance, the debate about cannabis already has 5 different possible answers, so the current title is no longer appropriate. More complex debates are likely to develop even more possible answers. I think the current title convention doesn't scale and we should change it. However, on the other hand, I suspect much of the current traffic comes from users searching the current titles on search engines, as can be seen by comparing with the traffic of the Spanish version. Changing them to more generic ones may reduce traffic. Thoughts? Sophivorus (discusscontribs) 15:44, 16 March 2021 (UTC)[reply]

@Sophivorus: I like the question format. A question doesn't have to have a yes-or-no answer. This might sound strange, but I feel somewhat put upon when the media or a website insists "these are the difficult issues" or "this is what is important". They build this nebulous ethos of social priorities and issues. There always seems to be an odd, tacit insistence behind it, as though there's no way to settle such issues except to pick a side and tow the line. On the other hand, a question is just a question. We can often settle them (or come up with better questions) using measured dialectic. I'll think of a better way to explain this when I have more time. AP295 (discusscontribs) 12:15, 3 April 2021 (UTC)[reply]
To sum up, it would be better to present these debates as a set of queries than as a set of imperatives. To present them as imperatives is presumptuous, and it seems to put people in the wrong frame of mind. An imperative is a problem that must be dealt with. It primes the reader's flight-or-fight response. An amygdala hijack. At that point, dialectic becomes difficult. I'm not saying that this is or was your intention. Unfortunately, it seems that we're conditioned to approach political issues in this manner. It's a flaw that has been introduced into our culture by the media. Let's not perpetuate it though. AP295 (discusscontribs) 12:56, 3 April 2021 (UTC)[reply]

Collaboration with the Canonizer[edit source]

The canonizer is a separate on-going project that shares a similar conceptual architecture with Wikidebate. It seems useful to explore collaborations with the canonizer with the intent of improving, or perhaps even merging, both projects. Thanks! --Lbeaumont (discusscontribs) 11:40, 3 April 2021 (UTC)[reply]