General Resolution Debating

This is a thread about James S Saint’s proposed Resolution Debating (flowchart) as a method to resolve social issues, seek truth, agreement, differences, and wisdom.

The proposal was outlined in a flow chart and normally requires something called a “Logic Arbiter”, LA (since is it entirely about logical debate not merely arguing what is preferred by anyone). And Magnus Anderson and I are going to see if we can manage the same kind of thing through mutual consent moderating – an experiment. We intend to first attempt it on the issue of whether “1=0.999…” just as a trial run and try to follow the flowchart guide as much as possible. We’ll see how it goes.

There is another blog post of James’ that I think will give a good start on understanding what is required for “logical argumentation” –

The process is proposed to seek out agreements as well as differences so agreeing on definitions seems the best place to start. We will be trying it out on the Science and Maths forum.

On this thread we intend on ironing out precisely how we are going to carry it off and I’m confident that we will stumble quite a bit.

Our first concern is how we moderate

I am thinking that either of us can simply post “PoO” during the debate on the Maths Forum – for Point of Order and try to assign a sequence number – PoO## so that we can then take up the issue back on this thread and iron out how we are going to address it.

I think a serious stipulation is that of stating each small thought at a time and waiting for agreement or disagreement to be announced by the other party. That means it might take quite a while merely for it to get started. Although perhaps the relevant definitions and declarations as premises can be stated all at once then agreed on (would save some time).

So to begin, Magnus – anything to add before we attempt a beginning?

I have some work, wife, and wealth to get back to - so don’t wait up. :smiley:

I don’t think there should be any time limits. Take as much time as you need. I will do the same (:

For the benefit of others, I suggest having a link to the flowchart in your OP.

Here’s the link: … wchart.jpg

We already agree that (1 = 0.\dot9) is false, so there is nothing to debate here (: We need to find something we disagree on. (The goal of resolution debate, after all, is to resolve disagreements.) I suggest something related to (1 = 0.\dot9) such as your belief that (999\dotso = \sum_{i=0}^{i->\infty} 9\times10^i). We can start its own thread in Science, Technology and Math sub-forum. If you agree, the next step would be to choose who’s going to start it.

Alright, let’s see if I understand you correctly.

Whenever one of us (the participants) suspect the other is violating one of the rules of the debate, we should stop the debate and present our case here in this thread.

Also, when presenting a case, we should assign it a number and a name based on that number. For example, if the case number is 1, the case name should be something like “PoO #1”. I am also assuming that we should post a link to our case in the debate thread.

The problem right now is that the set of rules that we have agreed upon so far is pretty limited. There isn’t much we can object to during the debate.

There are two ways to solve this problem:

  1. come up with a thorough set of rules

  2. grant every participant the right to pause the debate and bring the discussion here in this thread with the aim to express that they find the other person’s contribution to the debate unacceptable in some way (and thus in need of some sort of correction if the debate is to be continued)

If you don’t want to plan everything ahead, (2) should be your friend (:

The irony being that James would not agree to an arbiter for any disagreement. He was the sole authority. You had to either accept his argument or he would start explaining it to you from the beginning.

For example, we could not go to a physicist to settle our arguments about physics because anyone who disagreed with his version was some corrupt ‘priest’ of the science ‘religion’. The same also applied for mathematics.

That’s a different subject. I would suggest starting a different thread for it.


It feels strangely good to be able to just say “agreed” and move on but in the debate we have to be careful to ensure that we fully and precisely understand what the intent of the other was anytime we agree else I can foresee that confusion, argument over proper use of words, and starting over might be the consequence of our neglect.

Yes. I don’t know how I buggered that up. The first link in the OP was supposed to be pointing to that chart. I edited the post so it is corrected.

Agreed. I see your point. I will make the statement on that thread. That will take us down to the third line down the chart where you post whatever part you agree to (if any) and state why you think my statement was wrong (be sure to quote my statement in your response). After that we both consider the OoP option and go from there.


I’m not sure about that. The chart defines the rules already (assuming an arbiter). All we have to do is adjust for mutual consent arbitration (which we now have done - our OoP is what allows the debate to suspend until arbitration here is settled) and try out the chart directives with an example. Which I am about to go do. :smiley:

In this debate I will be the “Proposer” and you the “Respondent”

After your disagreement, on that same post, state your reasoning so I can then respond to your counter reasoning.

I think you are still confusing James’ insistence that people think for themselves with the idea that he was proposing to know everything.

Nullius in Verba - take no one’s word - no faith in authorities - reason it out for yourself.

The logic arbiter must be very careful to look ONLY at the consistency of the language (James’ definition of “logic”) - not what some physicist or maths professor claims to be truth. The logic arbiter cannot defer truth to any authority. He is not there to adjudicate truth - only consistent language and proper process.

Misunderstandings are to be expected, so there must be a mechanism in place that determines what to do when a misunderstanding is suspected.

Should one leave the debate or should one make an effort to verify their suspicion, and if it proves to be correct, to resolve the misunderstanding? That sort of thing (:

Perhaps we should make sure we interpret the flowchart the same way before we start the discussion? Or maybe you think we should deal with that through Points of Order?

Alright, so you will start the debate.

By the way, I’d recommend starting a new thread. Let (1 = 0.\dot9) be about what it was meant to be about (:

Expected - not invited. After each response - just request an RfO - a Request for Clarification - followed by a statement of what isn’t clear. I don’t see a need to leave the debate forum. It isn’t a movie production.

I think we should begin the game (and is only a game at this point) and let our effort guide the way to discovering if anything extraordinary is required.


Too late. :smiley:

Let’s play with it where it is for now until we can grasp how much formality is really required.

Hey, you were the one who came up with the idea to leave the thread (and come here) each time participants suspects the rules of the debate (as set out by James’s flowchart) have been violated (: I merely assumed the same applies to suspected misunderstandings. If it were up to me, I’d do everything in the same thread.

Alright. (I like the word “game”, though, and I’d like to use it even for serious debates between trained debaters (:slight_smile:

I don’t think it’s too late. You can still start a new thread. The benefits are numerous. First, we get to preserve James’s thread. Second, we end up with a discussion that is easy to read (no interceptions by other members discussing other subjects.) Third, it’s better organized.

But since you’re insisting, let’s just do it there.

Alright, I’m going to respond in that thread now.

I consider requesting clarification to be a part of the process. Having to clarify our process of mutual consent is not a part of the process but rather just us trying to work out what the process is to be.

I’ll move it over to another thread if it gets too messy where it is.

Point of Order #1 … 0#p2804498

I thought (and think) that is what a rebuttal is - stating the disagreement and explaining why.

Other than giving the mistake a name - “non-sequitur conclusion” (seemingly implied by agreeing to everything but the conclusion) I thought what I gave was sufficient - “Disagree” followed by explanation.

You concluded that because of prior assertions the two values could not be the same. I thought about just saying - “I disagree. They can be the same despite your assertions”. But then you would have to ask “why?” And then I would have to give the very same argument as I did. I merely saved the time of you having to ask for the only next step possible. What else could you have said at that point?

Ok so how would you suggest?

I agree with that. But maybe the flowchart wasn’t supposed to be interpreted that way. And if it was, perhaps James made a mistake.

Let me show you what I want you to do using a simpler argument.

  1. All men are mortal
  2. Socrates is mortal
  3. Therefore, Socrates is a man

This is an instance of a logically invalid argument i.e. an argument where the conclusion does not follow from the premises.

The question is:
How would one explain the mistake made in the process of deriving the conclusion from the premises?

Most definitely not by arguing against the conclusion. If you’re supposed to argue against anything, you are supposed to argue against its logical validity.

One way to make it more apparent that an argument is logically invalid is to change it such that it becomes logically valid.

For example:

  1. All men are mortal and all that is mortal is a man
  2. Socrates is mortal
  3. Therefore, Socrates is a man

Does that make sense?

In that example you injected a knowingly false condition (premise/assertion) in order to justify the conclusion (all that is mortal is NOT man).

What kind of response would you expect? - “That isn’t what I said! I didn’t say that all that is mortal is man. You are putting false words in my mouth.”

Then you would have to explain that your insertion would have to included in order to draw that same conclusion. Another argument might pursue.

But there is an important difference between our example and that one.

In our example, your conclusion wasn’t merely a misdrawn conclusion - but a false misdrawn conclusion. So am I supposed to inject some kind of false assertion to make your false conclusion become true? That seems tricky.

Then I would have to disagree with (5a) and give the exact same explanation as I did to show how (5a) is false?

And remember that me merely proving that your argument was not sound does not prove that my proposal IS sound. What I provided does both.

Correct. And that is allowed. It is allowed because the point is to show what the argument lacks in order to be valid. The fact that noone agrees that “All that is mortal is men” is irrelevant (:

That’s a possible response. But note that it fails to understand my point. One could respond to it by saying “Yes, you didn’t say that. And I did not claim you did. I merely claimed that your argument is invalid and I tried to make that apparent by showing what kind of thing your argument lacks in order to be valid.”

There might be a better way to argue against the validity of an argument though.

What I’m asking you to do is to present an argument in favor of your belief that my argument is logically invalid. That’s not what you did. What you did you is you presented an argument against the conclusion of my argument. There’s a difference between the two, it’s just that it’s a subtle one (:

And one way to argue that my argument is logically invalid is by showing what it lacks in order to be logically valid. You are free (and even expected) to inject a false premise. By injecting a false premise, you’d end up with an argument that is valid but unsound. In other words, you wouldn’t prove me right. You can’t prove anything with an unsound argument (:

(I will respond to your addition of “5a” statement once I’m done processing it.)

Although I don’t object to doing so, I guess I am not seeing the requirement to presenting your argument with corrections injected. And I don’t think that is an error in the flowchart. A rebuttal is - “I disagree with this one statement and this is why…”. Where is the requirement to present your argument with corrected logical sequence to only then give the same reason I disagree with it?

If I merely presented a corrected version of your argument, I would still have to prove that my original proposal is correct. You giving a single argument against the proposal doesn’t mean that is the only possible fallacy in the proposal. I merely prove that you did not disprove the proposal with that one argument. So you still might not agree to it. It stays an unresolved assertion that you might disagree with later after thinking of another way to argue against it.

But if I present my argument as to why the proposal is correct (after pointing to what was wrong in your argument) I will have given the chance for you to agree that my logic is sound - issue resolved.

Because the only error in your argument was the conclusion, not the premises, the opposite of the conclusion is the only thing for me to explain. And that is what I did. The need to go back and show what you would have to add into your argument seems a additional task that might help you, but I don’t see that it is needed merely to refute one of your statements - especially a non-sequitur conclusion.

I think the only actual logical requirement is to show why ONE of your statements was incorrect - not try to inject some additional statement into the argument sequence to make your sequence proper.

I agree that the word “rebuttal” means “I disagree with this and this is why”. But when presented with an argument, there can be more than one thing you disagree with. You can disagree with one or more premises, for example. You can also disagree with the conclusion. But also, you can disagree that the argument is logically valid. Given everything you disagree with, what should be the first thing to argue against? Should it be an arbitrary choice? I am not so sure.

In the case that one agrees with all of the premises but thinks that the argument is invalid, it is my position that the best thing to do is to argue against the validity of the argument. We can debate this here in this thread, but if you don’t want to, we don’t have to.

Though I actually want you to present an argument against the validity of my argument, if you find it difficult or otherwise undesirable to do so, I will accept the rebuttal that you already presented and respond to it instead. But in such a case, I will have to note, here or elsewhere, that you refused to argue against the validity of my argument.

Note that you’re not supposed to present a corrected version of my argument. That’s not the best way to describe what I’m asking you to do. It gives the false impression that you’re supposed to argue in favor of my position.

What you’re actually supposed to do is prove that my argument is logically invalid. Showing what can be inserted in my argument to make it valid (but not necessarily sound) is merely one way to do that.

And one of the reasons I want you to prove that my argument is invalid is because by making an attempt to do so you might end up realizing the opposite is the case.

Correct. But also, if you tried to prove that my argument is invalid, you’d have a chance to realize that my argument is sound – issue resolved (:

Not really. You suspect two errors. You think that the conclusion is false, but also, that the argument is logically invalid. So it’s far from the only thing left to explain.

I suspect you didn’t fully understand my reply.

Ok I could have said - “non-sequitur” for the invalid logic process before I continued.

But the rest of my rebuttal was directly addressing that last conclusion that you made (not the manner it was derived).

I was showing how two different infinite number representations can be equal in value - the opposite of what you stated. If it had been one of your premises, I would have said the same thing - "Ir is not true that two infinite values have to be presented the same way in order doe them to be equal - and specifically the two we were debating about.

Back to wife, work, and wealth for me - :smiley:

I thought about this in a different setting -

Imagine that you are a witness in a courtroom setting.

You have made a statement in defense of the defendant. Then the prosecutor, wishing to depose or discredit you says - “But isn’t it true that… this and … this … and this … and this … and this … and this are all true which means that your statement is a lie?”

In response you explain a little backstory showing that your statement is actually true. But at that point the prosecutor registers an objection claiming that you are being unresponsive (you didn’t answer his question).

Then the judge instructs you that you must untwist the prosecutors chain of reasoning and insert a statement that would make his reasoning logically valid before you propose a defense of your statement.

What happens if the witness isn’t clever enough to figure out the logic requirements needed to rectify the prosecutor’s reasoning? Or what happens if you, the witness, manages to insert the right statements to correct the validity of the prosecutor’s reasoning but the judge or jury doesn’t understand how that all works out? The witnessing has shifted from being the witnessing to having to depose the prosecutor as a witness and prove that he is the one who told a lie. The problem is that he is a professional and you are merely trying to explain what you witnessed. Suddenly you, the witness, would have to hire an attorney just to defend your statements - maybe bring in other witnesses - maybe they end up having to hire attorneys. You have become the subject in a trial merely because you witnessed something. That seems a very untoward encumbrance on a witness and the court having to hear all of it.

Meanwhile the actual defendant sits idle hoping that you or your attorney and support witnesses and their attorneys and witnesses can prove your statement and must wait with the rest of his defense of the original accusation in stasis. And if the jury or judge finally decides that maybe the one of the witnesses’ statements really was false, that indication of guilt makes the defendant’s case even more suspicious than it would have been if the witness had never said anything.

So I think that actually I am not in favor of the idea of encumbering the defendant with correcting the logic of the prosecutor as a necessary role in witnessing or in defense rationale. I don’t think it would hurt for the witness or defendant to explain the prosecutor’s error in logic if he could. But it certainly shouldn’t be a requirement. The original issue might get completely forgotten.

The defendant has his own logic and it is up to the prosecutor to show that it is the defendant’s logic that is flawed - not to just provide an alternative narrative that must be disproven (although if simple enough it wouldn’t hurt otherwise let the prosecutor figure out his own errors as long as the defendant has sufficient logic for his own statements).

The debate started by you stating what you believe to be the case. You didn’t present an argument, you merely made an assertion.

(I suppose that’s precisely what James’s had in mind when he said “Propose Idea”. The reasoning being, I believe, that one should not waste time coming up with an argument if noone in the Coop disapproves of the proposed idea.)

It was me who presented the first argument in the debate, and because of that, it is up to you to show that it is unsound.

And since you agreed with every premise of my argument, the only way left for you to show that my argument is unsound is by arguing that it is invalid.

By choosing to argue against the conclusion of my argument, you ignored my argument.

I have nothing against the idea of me arguing against the soundness of your arguments (I will eventually do it) but if you’re not going to argue against the soundness of mine then it is a one-sided debate.

Imagine what would happen if we were allowed to address each other’s arguments by simply arguing against the conclusion. You’d simply be presenting arguments for, and I would simply be presenting arguments against, the idea that (999\dotso = \sum_{i=0}^{i->\infty} 9\times10^i). That would be a pretty pointless debate, sort of like what we already have on this forum.

Here’s an example of such a debate:

Socrates is a man

(The Initial Argument)

  1. All men are mortal.
  2. Socrates is mortal.
  3. Therefore, Socrates is a man.

(Rebuttal #1: Argument against the conclusion of The Initial Argument)

  1. Men die young.
  2. Socrates is not young.
  3. Therefore, Socrates is not a man.

(Rebuttal #2: Argument against the conclusion of Rebuttal #1)

  1. All philosophers are men.
  2. Socrates is a philosopher.
  3. Therefore, Socrates is a man.

(Rebuttal #3: Argument against the conclusion of Rebuttal #2)

  1. All men are warriors.
  2. Socrates is a philosopher.
  3. Therefore, Socrates is not a man.[/tab]

Do you agree such a debate is undesirable? The reason I think it’s undesirable is because the participants won’t start arguing against the soundness of each other’s arguments until they have presented all of the arguments they have for or against the subject of the debate.

If we agree that such a debate is undesirable, it follows that we cannot allow participants to respond with ANY kind of rebuttal of their choice. There must be rules in place restricting what kind of rebuttal they can present.

The following is a set of rules that I suggest be put in place:

  1. If the participant thinks the argument is invalid, he should argue against its validity

  2. If the participant doesn’t think the argument is invalid, he should argue against one of the premises (which one is up to him)

So not only are participants required to argue against the validity in case they agree with the premises, but they are also required to prioritize arguing against validity over arguing against the premises.

I don’t think the courtroom setting is a good analogy.

In a courtroom, the participants are supposed to convince the judge. Here, the participants are supposed to convince each other.

The debate starts by someone presenting a belief they hold to be true and someone else voicing their disagreement.

Each side can have any number of arguments in favor of their position. And for each argument of one side the other side can have any number of things they disagree with. And for each disagreement, they might have a number of arguments to back it up. And so on.

For example, you might have (5) arguments in favor of (999\dotso = \sum_{i=0}^{i->\infty} 9\times10^i) and I may have (3) against it. And for each one of your arguments, I may have a number of things I disagree with. And the same goes for you. And so on.

The question is merely: in what order should the arguments be presented and disagreements addressed?

This is how our debate went:

  1. You stated a belief.

  2. I stated that I disagree with your belief and presented an argument against it.

  3. You did two things: 1) you stated that you agree with every premise in my argument but that you disagree with the conclusion, and 2) you presented an argument in favor of your belief.

What’s the point of me presenting an argument if the only thing you’re going to do is state what you agree with and what you disagree with? Aren’t you supposed to argue against its soundness?

Note that I am not saying that you should refrain from presenting your own argument until you convince me that my argument is unsound (or even worse, until you convince me that your belief is true.)