For instance, nothing would make me happier than to be able to reply to the nth discussion regarding the idea that "the GPL is freer than the BSD licence" with a universal fully-qualified link to every argument for and against the idea. Or "For software engineers, open-plan offices lead to greater productivity than individual offices".
While it may appear that this would lead to some sort of _Futurological Congress_-esque situation where we respond to people in paragraph numbers, it has many advantages:
* No longer will people be misled by a correct statement poorly argued for.
* No longer will message boards be polluted by the nth iteration of the same argument.
* Undiscovered lines of argument will be universally available.
Of course there's the disadvantage that you'll get less participation, and there's value in just having some number of comments even if they're repetitive: at the least, the desire to respond to that may bring people who later on make novel arguments.
This seems like a fine UI to do that. Deep link to the relevant sub-graph, and let the collective intelligence of thousands do your arguing for you. I like it.
I think the biggest challenge is UI and user education (most people don't know what a fallacy is, let alone how many there are and how often they likely make them).
Then you further need to relate those back to the original statement by clarifying how different subjective target functions will have you come to a different final conclusion. (Not to mention that the "GPL is freer than BSD" or vice versa discussion is itself merely a sub-part of the larger "GPL is better than BSD (for my purpose)" or vice versa discussion.)
So my point is that it is possible in principle to provide a fully qualified link to a non-subjective presentation of arguments on that particular issue (and any other issue). I agree with you that the real challenge is UI, and probably moderation more than user education.
I've played around with UI ideas in the past. I think you need a nested structure, which can ideally be generated by the users (but would need to conform to the basic rules of logic [to whatever extent it has been defined]). Any argument will be in some knowledge domain, until you get to some "ultimate high level domain" (which probably doesn't exist -- not sure how you'd represent this in the UI; probably just the superset of all your as-yet-undomained arguments), so the nesting of domains should be reflected in the interface.
I think the UI problem is related to the data modeling problem. In my view, it seems like the UI should directly expose the data model. If that is the case, then the question is, "What is the right data model?".
For that, I think it's primarily directed graphs showing the relationship between the arguments. Of course there is more needed, as you'd need to annotate the arguments with various meta-arguments (eg. argument's conclusion is assumed as premise).
I do agree that one can probably come up with solutions for handling subjective arguments relatively well, I just think it might be difficult to come to a "this will handle all cases" solution. If someone says a particular argument is fallacious, why should we believe them? What happens when your database gets spammed with tons of bogus info? How do you make sure it stays out (or at least, can somehow be "excluded" from what you normally see)?
For "For software engineers, open-plan offices lead to greater productivity than individual offices" we don't need arguments but experiments and science.
If you had 5 studies regarding open-plan offices, you still need to check which ones are the most trustworthy, find out if and why they disagree, decide which outliers you ignore, etc.
I just wrote a comment about this, responding to global warming debate. Perhaps what this platform needs to address that is an ability to separate facts (that is, sources) and opinions (that is, synthesis or analysis of the sources).
IOW, I suggest such a system simply moves the problem from answering virtually the same question over and over to the problem of which level to ask a question at. Perhaps, in the name of progress, a step forward, or perhaps not.
None. For any area, there will exist numerous levels of perspectives such that people will argue over which level matters.
"This is basically about framing issues"
People will move to arguing which frame is relevant.
I worked on something very similar as one of my very first projects which got me into programming. I wanted there to be a debate website where anything could be debated using arguments. I've found that the debates I would see on TV or in everyday discussions would not be good enough, because:
- There was space for people to diverge off of the discussion
- When the discussion would fork, the participants might forget some previous arguments that were made
- It would be difficult to come back to a previous point.
- People would have a bias towards the arguments made by the most prestigious side of the sides discussion a certain matter.
- It was possible to make some claims without backing up proofs/sources.
- Emotions could become a factor. The discussion can heat up.
I thus wrote a small website where one could post an idea as a node, and others could reply in favor of, against the idea or under a neutral position. The users could also vote for some nodes. The website would then become a collection of trees. As I see it, it could be used to discuss any matters! However, I've never really pushed the idea forward.
I've always thought about picking the project back up as I was passionate about the idea. I've never really got around doing so (I would love to discuss on how to get projects pushed forward). Through the years, I thought about this website, and I've found some problems that could arise:
- There would have to be a good user base. My perception was that people would have less incentive to discuss where no one would listen.
- How do you simplify ideas as much as possible? Some texts can be summarized or shortened (and some connections like relationships to other nodes could be added) and still have the same idea. I'm guessing this would be done using moderation. I think this is somewhat relevant because if you're browsing a tree of ideas, you want to do so seamlessly such that you do not lose interest in providing your input.
- For some, it is tiring to undergo a proper debate where the claims made need to be backed up. A lot of people like to discuss freely, in a comfortable setting. The usual reply system works for that.
- How do you report an improper report?
- I have found that many people like to stick with their beliefs more than with research. (This point applies to debates which need evidence. Many philosophical debates would be fine without the need for evidence.)
- It would make sense to have some nodes point to many parent nodes. How is that managed?
- The users need to learn about the possible relationships between the nodes.
- If a node would get too big, it would contain more than one idea. There has to be a system to split nodes apart.
- How do you deal with merging nodes?
- How do you manage spam and moderate node creation? (I did not have a good understanding of how to achieve these)
- How do you deal with nodes that have been edited? I've found a way to deal with this, but it's not as pretty as I would have liked it.
- Watching websites like Reddit and Facebook, I realized the reply system was enough as it allowed people as much room as they needed to make their point, using text. The only issue is organizing the ideas properly in this case. Hacker News had the reply system and people were using it to lead great discussions.
I've also thought about extending relationships to not just logical relationships. The reason I was looking to do this was that I wanted to find the simplest and most elegant solution that could apply to many use cases (not ALL the use cases though). It fitted (and still somewhat does fit in) how I think about writing good software (please someone correct me if I am wrong). The relationships would be akin to: Grows from, Follows, Is of type, Contains, etc.
I thought that this would essentially grow into a database of everything, a little bit like Wikipedia. Although Wikipedia does not allow much discussion (As far as I know).
Also look into Toulmin - claim, warrant
makes me think i should dust it off..
I have a question: When using because/but/however, do they apply to the hypothesis or to the premise? It would seem logical that they apply to the premise, however the count on the homepage is slightly misleading. I thought some people were "becausing" a lot to a subject, when in fact it counted the becauses on the "buts," too.
Also, the design could be improved, but it's usable as it is.
P.S: Gosh, my sentence is confusing.
Is there already a community/location for meta discussions? Maybe a Slack/Discord/Discourse/irc something or other.
E.g. I would like the ability to say 'I need more evidence to accept this premise', but I wouldn't want to just make a pull request if it's not something the community wants.
The fallacies reported should all be linked to a thorough discussion of each, and it should be possible to contest a fallacy report.
One problem I see here is people wrapping too many ideas into a single premise, which then makes arguing for or against it too difficult. Each should really be as small and isolated as possible.
You can think argument mappings as visual hierarchy mappings.
Arguman.org’s aim is arguments to be mapped successfully by many users.
(I do think its a great platform)
They agree, and do so quickly. See http://www.scottaaronson.com/blog/?p=2410 for an explanation of Aumann’s Agreement Theorem.
I think it could be useful if we forced the opponent in the debate not just to present argument, but also to reveal their model of the world. That way, they couldn't just poke holes into the argument from an inconsistent position.
Inject enough irrelevant counterarguments and you get the same quasi-controversy with the same amount of confusion for the layman.
Someone is yet to post a good refutation to it there.
The weakness is in allowing those who disagree to throw a tantrum, be impolite, use curse words, and attack other participants, such as this post:
"What the fuck has this to do with global warming?? electric currents and your shitty plasma have nothing to do with this, literally 99% of your spam quotes are irrelevant quotes"
When it's obvious from the "spam" arguments posted that the Earth sits within a system that is 99% plasma.
The problem with this system is that you will get many participants Skissor (author of the above-quoted pearl) asking for arguments to be censored or removed. This is the major problem that forums everywhere have yet to solve - when enough of the majority deem the minority's point of view as "trolling" as asks that it be censored, there is no real debate.
But yeah, the debate here lacks some good arguments. For example, one of the main reasons why we know global warming is not caused by the sun (aside from direct observation) is the fact that nights/winters/poles are getting warmer than days/summers/tropics, and that stratosphere is cooling.
Perhaps the weakness of the platform is that it doesn't distinguish between rational (thoughts) and empirical (facts) arguments?
It would be nice if one could source other statements, it could integrate with it quite well.
A UI suggestion: how about make the list view in HN nested comment style? If an argument gets too much items (like this one: http://en.arguman.org/there-is-no-such-thing-as-global-warmi...), it's a little mess in tree view. The list view style is more clear, but you have to click each item to see the sub-item. How aout make them nested with indentations? So one can see all items in one place.
No idea how to install it, but take a look :)
I like this implementation though. Really cool.
But ultimately I wonder if it will be useful or really gain traction.
Maybe you can see it with really popular, hot questions, and get some social media buzz.