Debate mapper

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About

The debate mapper, aka truth mapper, is software designed to provide a user-friendly graphical/web interface for structured debate.

Structured debate provides a system for keeping track of the status of every point and counterpoint that has been raised in a debate.

The Debate Mapper module allows multiple participants to make contributions simultaneously (which would not be possible in a spoken debate), permitting much more thorough fact-checking than in other forms of debate and ensuring that all positions have an opportunity to assert their objections to any given conclusion.

Ideally, the end result would be that everyone could agree on the correct (best, most likely, most reasonable) answer to any given question. In practice, of course, there will be a few people who refuse to recognize illogic (or insist that correct logic must be wrong, probably because it leads to answers they don't like); there are multiple ways of dealing with this conflict.

The fact that the debate is reduced to a cascading set of simple premises and conclusions should help minimize unintentional illogic.

The debate mapper is just part of a toolkit which is intended to be assembled and interconnected into a sort of expository ecosystem which will generally help promote rational decisionmaking:

  • Flat-out erroneous logic, as well as deliberately misleading – i.e. bad faith – arguments, will need to be handled with a reputation system. For use within a trusted group, however, the debate mapper alone should be a valuable tool for getting to the truth of complicated matters.
  • Actual decisionmaking based on the outcomes of structured debates is intended to be made via the liquid agenda module.

Pages

Premises

The design of the debate/truth mapper is based on the following premises about truth:

  1. There exist methods of reasoning which are more likely than others to produce results in accordance with reality, despite observer bias.
  2. In general, scientific methodologies have been shown to be better at this than any others currently at our disposal.
  3. Training oneself to take the determinations of scientific methodologies seriously, rather than allowing any of many possible biases to override them when forming our beliefs, is a matter of individual training.
  4. The same is true whether we're talking about subject traditionally considered "scientific" (physics, chemistry, maths) or those of a more humanistic nature (psychology, sociology, politics).

Process

  • Anyone may start a debate at any time; debate starts with an assertion of fact (the "prime assertion"), preferably defended by supporting arguments.
  • Anyone may add counterarguments or additional supporting arguments to this assertion at any time.
  • Each supporting or countering argument is itself an assertion, and may be further supported or countered at any time.
  • Debate continues indefinitely.
    • If new information is discovered which affects the debate, this information can be added immediately, with the potential to immediately change the debate's outcome (and hence the outcomes of any other debates which depend on this one, if others are linked to it; see #Ecosystem Features).
    • The design currently presumes that the final state of the prime assertion will eventually settle down to being true or false for long periods of time, as nobody will have any additional points to add; in practicality, decisions based on the debate's outcome will need to be made at specific times, and debates should be held in such a way that the final state will be likely to have settled down by the time any decision must be made.
    • There should probably also be a minimum amount of time between the last state-change and the actual decision, so as to negate the effects of last-minute /counterpoint spamming.

Individual debate venues may wish to make changes or additions to the procedural rules in order to accommodate their specific needs and circumstances.

Links

History

  • The debate mapper was inspired in part by the (fictional) decision duel concept.

Notes

To be checked (from here):