Total Posts:5|Showing Posts:1-5
Jump to topic:

David Brin's Disputation Arenas

WriterDave
Posts: 934
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
4/14/2012 1:41:58 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
Great SF author and self-proclaimed libertarian (although a lot of the time he strikes me as anything but) David Brin suggested a dispute resolution mechanism some years ago that, with some adaptation, would make a really excellent debate format, I feel. He called them Disputation Arenas. I don't know if the concept would be workable on DDO, but I'd like to hear some thoughts on how it might be done.

The full article is here http://www.davidbrin.com... -- and it's worth a read in any case, but the idea is to combine the coalescing, research and organizing structures that the internet already provides for partisans of a given position with the accountability aspect that you see in other dispute resolution mechanisms, such as courtrooms and peer-reviewed science.

The salient points are these:

1) The disputants, or teams of disputants, should be of sufficiently high status in their community that they cannot be easily disowned if they make vital concessions.

2) There should also be a panel of what Brin calls "Eminent Observers" who have a reputation for asking pointed questions and dissecting arguments, and who come from a mixed background for fairness.

3) Each side submits a position statement, along with supporting material and sources. Each position statement should be subdivided into strings of logical and falsifiable statements (which I think should be numbered), and the disputants should work with each other and with the EOs to produce a paper that consists only of logical and falsifiable statements. No attention should be paid to the actual merits of the positions at this point.

4) Each side then submits a paraphrasing of the other side's position paper, where they restate their opponent's position, including each numbered statement, in their own words. Again they should work with the EOs and each other until they've produced a statement that is again a string of logical and falsifiable statements, which the opposing team agrees is a generally accurate statement of their position. Again, the actual merits are not considered at this point.

5) Once we have these four papers -- the two position statements and the two paraphrasings -- the actual debate begins. Each and every statement in the four papers is considered fair game, and can have its own line of discussion. The EOs take part in this debate by asking questions and making criticisms, but the disputants themselves carry the sole burden of refuting or conceding their opponents' points.

6) The debate continues until the issue has been reduced to a number of "core conflicts." The outcome can then be decided in any number of ways.

This is pretty complex (and it's a summary of a still more complex approach detailed in Brin's article), and obviously is better suited for a message board type of infrastructure, where a separate board is set up for each dispute and different threads can be made about different statements within the position papers and paraphrasings. Not so much suited for DDO's infrastructure.

But I'm wondering if we can create a type of debate format that is like Brin's in the relevant respects -- that is, that it places a high emphasis on accountability, logical analysis, and open-endedness.

I might have some thoughts on this simmering in the back of my mind. In the meantime, I'd be interested to hear yours.
Writer. Liberal atheist. Official "Official of the FREEDO Bureaucracy" of the FREEDO Bureaucracy.

Edit To Civilize, with FAQs: http://bit.ly...
Insult Ownership: http://bit.ly...
Haters: http://bit.ly...

"I said you are a fake, a phony, and a fraud, but that doesn't mean I think you're putting on an act." --Innomen
Raisor
Posts: 4,459
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
4/14/2012 2:15:15 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
This was an interesting read.

I definitely think there is a market for long form open ended arguments on important issues and a lot of the goals of this argument structure are appealing, namely accountability and thoroughness.

I do think discussion structures of this sort would be net positive, but I am skeptical that they would bring about any sort of radical change in building consensus on contentious issues. After all, the very institutions that these Arenas try to emulate, court rooms and peer reviewed journals, are generally unsuccessful in this respect. Supreme Court decisions are routinely derided as politically motivated and fail to inspire change in public opinion. Peer reviewed journals often fail to build consensus or change minds even of the small technical circles that follow them intently.

People are inherently bad at maintaining objectivity, even if they are making sincere efforts to do so (which I really think is rarely the case, even in people who would claim otherwise). All the problems that plague adversarial discourse will be just as present in these new Arenas as they are in the old ones.

Additionally there are problems in many of the assumptions that are built into this format, such as the requirement of falsifiability or the fact that rights rules that govern discourse structures are themselves built on contentious discourse and are therefore subject to criticism from within the system. Anyone who has done competitive policy debate is familiar with the latter problem as it manifests itself in kritiks, impromptu 3NR, controversial disqualifications, etc.
WriterDave
Posts: 934
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
4/14/2012 4:34:30 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 4/14/2012 2:15:15 PM, Raisor wrote:
This was an interesting read.

I definitely think there is a market for long form open ended arguments on important issues and a lot of the goals of this argument structure are appealing, namely accountability and thoroughness.

That's exactly what I want to emphasize in thinking about bringing something like this to DDO, accountability and thoroughness.

Additionally there are problems in many of the assumptions that are built into this format, such as the requirement of falsifiability or the fact that rights rules that govern discourse structures are themselves built on contentious discourse and are therefore subject to criticism from within the system. Anyone who has done competitive policy debate is familiar with the latter problem as it manifests itself in kritiks, impromptu 3NR, controversial disqualifications, etc.

I haven't done competitive policy debate, so I'm not familiar with that problem. Could you elucidate?
Writer. Liberal atheist. Official "Official of the FREEDO Bureaucracy" of the FREEDO Bureaucracy.

Edit To Civilize, with FAQs: http://bit.ly...
Insult Ownership: http://bit.ly...
Haters: http://bit.ly...

"I said you are a fake, a phony, and a fraud, but that doesn't mean I think you're putting on an act." --Innomen
Raisor
Posts: 4,459
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
4/14/2012 7:43:30 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 4/14/2012 4:34:30 PM, WriterDave wrote:
At 4/14/2012 2:15:15 PM, Raisor wrote:
This was an interesting read.

I definitely think there is a market for long form open ended arguments on important issues and a lot of the goals of this argument structure are appealing, namely accountability and thoroughness.

That's exactly what I want to emphasize in thinking about bringing something like this to DDO, accountability and thoroughness.


Additionally there are problems in many of the assumptions that are built into this format, such as the requirement of falsifiability or the fact that rights rules that govern discourse structures are themselves built on contentious discourse and are therefore subject to criticism from within the system. Anyone who has done competitive policy debate is familiar with the latter problem as it manifests itself in kritiks, impromptu 3NR, controversial disqualifications, etc.

I haven't done competitive policy debate, so I'm not familiar with that problem. Could you elucidate?

Basically in a structure like this you have a bunch of rules and procedures and people governing it which all carry some sort of ideological baggage or implicitly legitimize certain viewpoints. An example would be how many people feel u.s. courts unfairly privilege the rich and well educated. So if you are a poor man trying to fight the mining company that poisoned your well, you probably believe the arena is built to your disadvantage.

The point is that there will be an awful lot of people who will feel that before a substantive discussion on say Marxism vs capitalism the arena must be restructured to remove implicit sanctions of capitalism. Basically how the arenas themselves are built will be a constant topic of debate, which is problematic if you want to build Internet infrastructure to support these arenas.

Another point is that people always figure out how to game systems very quickly, to take advantage of the rules to their benefit. This why speed reading is popular in debate. This can be both good and bad (just like speed reading IMO) but the possibility for people to game the system clearly undermines the goals of the arena by delegitimizing them and building resentment toward groups that implement tactics which are technically within the rules but perceived as unfair.